'I pray we win the Cup for Tendulkar'
With the World Cup trophy being the missing feather in Sachin Tendulkar's dazzling cap, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha hopes that tournament favourites India win it this time as a special tribute to the milestone man.
For 37-year-old Tendulkar, who has scored more than 32,000 runs and 97 centuries in international cricket, it will, in all probability, be his last chance to lift the Cup.
"I will follow the Indian side. My best wishes are with the team. I hope we win the Cup for Sachin paji. I pray that we do it for him. His contribution to Indian cricket is immense, with World Cup being the only missing feather from his cap," the Hyderabad spinner said from Visakhapatnam.
"What can I say more about the great Sachin Tendulkar. Anything said or written about him will be very less. I will keep it with that," added Ojha, who could not make it to the 15-member World Cup squad. He is currently playing in the Duleep Trophy final between North Zone and South Zone.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'The whole team is like a force'
Emphasising that India are firm favourites to win the trophy, the South Zone spinner said, "We are the favourites and well-prepared for the tournament. We have an excellent side, with the likes of Dhonibhai, Yuvibhai, Bhajjipaji, Yusuf, Raina, and others who can change the course of the game at any point of time.
"We have got a lot of match-winners in the side. We have some outstanding cricketers and we would not have to depend on anyone in particular. The whole team is like a force. We have a great chance to win the World Cup," said the 24-year-old, adding that playing at home will also be a big advantage.
Ojha said Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co are experienced enough to tackle the pressure situation.
"Cricket is religion in India and everyone will be following the matches. But we have matured cricketers who have been playing for quite a long time now. Everyone in the team is smart enough to tackle these pressures."
Image: Indian team celebrates after winning a match
'Australia are one of the strong contenders'
Speaking about four-time World champions Australia, Ojha warned that the Aussies cannot be taken for granted despite their loss of form in the recent past.
"Australia are one of the strong contenders. They always fight back and they do it with ease, which makes them one of the title favourites," said Ojha.
He, however, added that most of the teams in this World Cup will be very competitive.
"Every game will be important. Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan all know the conditions well. They have good spinners who can be really effective in this tournament."
Image: Australian team
'Kirsten is an outstanding coach'
Meanwhile, praising skipper Dhoni, Ojha said: "From personal point of view, I feel he gives you freedom and space to perform. He backs you up and gets the best out of you. That's why he is so successful."
He further added that Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten compliment each other well.
"He (Kirsten) is an outstanding coach. It's really nice to have him on board. He understands the players well, takes their feedbacks. I played under his coaching and he has been great."
Image: Gary Kirsten