'Best teams have the tendency to come under pressure'
It is a unanimous opinion that India is the hot favorite to win the 2011 World Cup. Experts and players feel that India has the talent, potential and the form to win the title trophy.
But Pakistan's 1992 World Cup winning captain, Imran Khan has a word of caution for the fans.
"Going by its present form, India definitely is the hot favourite to win the 2011 World Cup. But I would like to caution the fans not to get their hopes too high. The best teams have the tendency to come under pressure during the World Cup. Look at the West Indies in 1983. They were hot favorites to win, but they lost. I know how desperately Indians wants to see their team holding the World Cup, but we must remember the team that handles the pressure the best will win," Imran Khan told rediff.com in Delhi on Thursday.
Image: Team India
'India often panic in front of their crowd'
Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga believes that rather than being an advantage for India, playing at home could be a plus point for Sri Lanka.
"I have seen India play at home. Very often they panic in front of their crowd. Sri Lanka has been performing very well recently and they are also favorites to win the title. Moreover, if India panics at their home ground, that will be advantageous for Sri Lanka.
In addition, the matches that are going to be played at Sri Lanka will be held at new stadiums, which have new pitches. So it is like playing away from home for them as well," Ranatunga said.
Image: Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara
'India are under a lot of pressure'
Kapil Dev, who led India to their only World Cup triumph in 1983, feels that too much cricket prior to the World Cup may actually be a matter of concern for the hosts.
"If India beats South Africa in South Africa that will be of great advantage. I personally feel that India should not play so much cricket before the World Cup because there is a fear of injuries. If any of the big guns suffer injuries, that will be bad news for the Indian dream," Kapil said.
Imran Khan countered this and said that India should play as much cricket as possible before the World Cup.
"Injury is a part and parcel of cricket. Even if India does not go to South Africa to play under the fear of injuries, then injuries can still happen during net practice. I think India should train their hardest before the World Cup," Imran Khan said.
West Indian legend, Sir Vivian Richards said that being the number one team, India is under a lot of pressure.
"India are under a lot of pressure to maintain their number one spot. But what will be triumph indeed is if India goes to South Africa and beat them at home and then come back and win the title," Richards said.
Image: Team India
'Pakistan cricket is facing its biggest crisis'
Tainted by match-fixing allegations, Pakistan is in a state of disarray.
With their winning opening bowling pair, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir under suspension for alleged match-fixing, Pakistan's chances at the World Cup hangs by a thread.
"You are asking me about match fixing, I am more worried about fixing the country," Imran told Rediff.com, when asked about the match-fixing scandal.
"Pakistan cricket is facing its biggest crisis right now. We are waiting for the fate of fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif. If these two play, then Pakistan definitely has a chance in this World Cup. I have seen Mohammed Amir and I can safely say that he is better than Wasim Akram when compared in their individual career time," the former Pakistan captain added.
Richards feels that Pakistan definitely has a lot of talent, but need a good captain to lead the team in such difficult times.
"There is no dearth of talent in the team. What is missing, however, is a leader. They need a leader like Imran Khan to lead them. The team definitely is one of the better teams in the series, but they are not organized; they are all over the place," he said.
Imran said Pakistan still is a very unpredictable team and on their day could beat any opponent.
"Pakistan is very unpredictable. If they find some kind of combination that works, then they might just surprise us all. They are being led by a very unpredictable player himself -- Shahid Afridi," Imran Khan added.
Image: Pakistan ODI captain Shahid Afridi