India has a great opportunity to win World Cup: Mongia
Nayan Mongia was one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen India produced. He figured in the 1996 and 1999 editions of the World Cup and endeared himself to many with a competent job behind the stumps.
Since retirement he has established himself as a brilliant analyst, his comments on cricket and its practitioners highly respected.
In a freewheeling interview with Haresh Pandya, the former India stumper shares his views on the upcoming World Cup.
What are India's chances in this World Cup?
I must say our chances are very, very bright. In fact, India has a great opportunity to win this World Cup. I wouldn't be surprised if Mahendra Singh Dhoni and company are crowned champions.
What makes you think so?
Well, just look at the Indian team's record and its current form. India will surely make the most of playing at home -- on the subcontinent, to be exact. Dhoni has at his disposal one of the most experienced teams in world cricket today. There is a nice blend of experience and youth in the Indian team.
All our senior players are very experienced while the youngsters are extremely talented. Let me reiterate that this is a golden opportunity for Team India to win the World Cup, all things considered. If we play to our strength and perform consistently well, there should be no stopping Team India. This is a very powerful team, but ultimately it boils down to a sustained collective effort.
Image: Nayan Mongia
Yusuf is capable of anything with the bat
Who do you think could be India's trump card?
I think it could be Yusuf Pathan. He is in very good form and his confidence is also very high at the moment. He isn't scared of any bowler. An in-form Yusuf is capable of anything with the bat. I'm sure he'll carry his form into the World Cup.
Do you think he should be promoted in the batting order?
The problem is India's batting line-up is very long; almost all the leading batsmen are in good nick at present. I think there is no need to disturb this line-up. Yusuf may be promoted in the event of India needing quicker runs off a few overs, or when a frontline batsman or two suddenly lose form. It all depends on the given situation. But Dhoni knows well how to use Yusuf judiciously depending on the situation.
What do you think makes Yusuf such a dangerous customer?
His ability to strike the ball ferociously and clear the ground repeatedly -- almost at will. Besides, his tremendous self-confidence is also what opponents fear. He will be the player to watch in this World Cup.
Image: Yusuf Pathan
High scoring World Cup
Many believe this is going to be a high-scoring World Cup. Do you think we'll get to see a couple of individual double hundreds, considering how aggressively batsmen play these days thanks to Twenty20 cricket and also the fact that there are also several weaker teams in the fray?
It's very difficult to score a double century in any form of cricket regardless of the strength or weakness of any team; moreso in one-day international cricket. That's why we've only one double centurion.
And Sachin Tendulkar scored that double hundred only last year. It requires a huge amount of concentration and determination. But, yes, this will be a high-scoring World Cup because of the general nature of the wickets in the subcontinent and also the fact that not too many teams are strong in the bowling department.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
West Indies could turn out to be the dark horse of the WC
Considering the nature of the wickets in these parts of the world, as you rightly state, do you think even fast bowlers like Dale Steyn will be seen struggling in this World Cup?
Most probably, yes. I mean they won't be as effective and successful as on green and bouncy wickets elsewhere. But, then, exceptionally talented men like Steyn have it in them to do the ball their bidding on any wicket. Others often find it tough to bowl a good line on flat wickets. Moreso in one-day cricket in which there're many restrictions on bowlers.
Which of the teams will turn out to be the dark horse of this World Cup?
The chances are that the West Indies will surprise and shock a couple of big teams. Chris Gayle leads the batting line-up and they have couple of good players like Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Adrian Barath. Not to forget Shivnariane Chanderpaul, of course. This team is capable of creating a major upset or two. I've a feeling that the West Indies will prove to be the dark horse of this tournament.
Image: West Indies team celebrates after a win