'India has a genius called Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the team. He is the brain of cricket in the team. He understands the game so well and has experience of leading India in two WC wins. His experience will be vital for captain and coach and he can be their trump card'
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the brain of the Indian cricket team and will be their trump card at the World Cup, reckons former Pakistan skipper Zaheer Abbas.
India grabbed the ICC Twenty20 World Championship under Dhoni's leadership in 2007 apart from winning the ICC ODI World Cup in 2011. The team also won the Asia Cup twice (2010 and 2016) under Dhoni and the Champions Trophy in 2013.
His lightening skills behind the stumps is still unmatched but his image of world' best finisher took a hit, recently.
However, Abbas still backs the former India captain.
"India has a genius called Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the team. He is the brain of cricket in the team. He understands the game so well and has experience of leading India in two WC wins. His experience will be vital for captain and coach and he can be their trump card," Abbas told PTI Bhasha.
"Also, it is the first WC under Virat Kohli's captaincy and he would be eager to prove his mettle as a captain," he felt.
Abbas also said the pitches in England will suit India's strong batting line-up where 400 or 450 runs in an innings could be a possibility.
"We have seen in the recently-concluded Pakistan–England series, that over 300 runs were scored and chased. Now, at the World Cup, 450 runs could be a possibility as there is no grass on the wickets and bowlers will get little help from the conditions,” said the stylish batsman who was once termed 'Asia's Bradman'.
"In such a scenario, India will benefit as they have one of the strongest batting line-ups. English wickets are now batsmen's paradise," he said.
There has been a lot of talk about who should bat at No 4 for India but Abbas said there should not be many changes in the top order.
"It is purely the captain's decision but my view is that the top four in the batting order shouldn't be changed frequently. You can make changes in the lower middle order but not at the top," said the veteran who has played 78 Tests and 62 ODIs for Pakistan between 1969 to 1985.
"Fitness will be the key at this World Cup given the format and the weather in England. I think that the fittest teams will reach the last four."
When asked about Pakistan team which has seen some last moment changes in the final squad, Abbas said: "They should now forget the loss against England and focus on World Cup. They must improve their fielding."
Pakistan has not won a single World Cup match against India so far. Can the team break this jinx this time?
"Record is with India but Pakistan can beat any team on their day . It will depend on who handles the pressure well. It will be the match of the tournament for sure, no matter who wins.”
India and Pakistan will lock horns on June 16 in Manchester.
"For me, an Indo-Pak cricket rivalry is much, much bigger than the Ashes and like every cricket fan, I am eager to see that match," he said.