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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Special

The Rediff Special/Harish Kotian

Dhoni is an asset to the team: Kirmani

March 12, 2007

Syed Kirmani

Former India wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani gave a thumbs up to India's new wicketkeeping sensation Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying he is an asset to the team.

"Well, Dhoni is more of a batsman than wicketkeeper. He has got tremendous temperament and he can be a match-winner at all times. He has showed excellent temperament. He can adapt to any kind of situation and is just not a slogger. If he wants to defend, he can defend. If he is required to have a slog, he can. He is an absolute asset to the Indian team," Kirmani told

Kirmani was part of the World Cup-winning team of 1983 and believes that the current Indian team can replicate that success in the 2007 edition, which gets underway on Tuesday with the opening match between the West Indies and Pakistan.

"We have a very good chance of winning the World Cup. We have got a very good, balanced side, blended with experience and youth. All our team members are in good form. Winning the series against Sri Lanka and the West Indies was a good sign that all our top batsmen and bowlers are in top form and they showed a lot of consistency and commitment. I am sure their confidence level must be really high. I hope that they maintain that level. I am confident that they will do well," Kirmani said.

The 57-year-old recounted India's triumph in 1983, saying it was an unexpected victory and still holds a special place in his heart.

"There cannot be a better victory than winning the World Cup, which came out of the blue, as we never expected to win it," he said.

"Nobody thought we would even qualify in 1983; none of us could even believe. So, the very first match we played against the mighty West Indies, the reigning World champions, was a morale-booster. We beat them comprehensively [by 34 runs]. That was the turning point to our thinking, our approach and our attitude. There was the good luck cycle with us, which comes to a team or individual.

"So let's hope after 1983 the good luck cycle comes to India again. But we are expecting a lot from this Indian team, so they are under tremendous pressure," Kirmani added.

Kirmani, who played 88 Tests and 49 ODIs, said India's batting and bowling looks good.

"I suppose the top order batsmen are the key players; the bowlers as well. You have got Anil Kumble as a match-winning bowler and Harbhajan Singh can be good support. Along with that you have Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan, if he is fit, and we hope that he comes back into his original form, which has been lacking. And then we have got the best batting line-up; all the top order batsmen seem to be in very good form. I see that the key players to our success could be [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni, [Sourav] Ganguly, [Dinesh] Karthik, Sachin [Tendulkar] and [Rahul] Dravid," he added.

The former wicketkeeper's formula for winning is simple: consistency.

"On an all-round basis, we have the best batting line-up in comparison to the other teams. We have a very good bowling line-up, with four specialist fast bowlers and two very good spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble. It's a terrific balance, so everyone has to click. You want to win a match or a series, the batting, bowling and fielding has to click... and with consistency," Kirmani said.

He, however, refused to pick any favourite, saying it should not be a surprise to see a few big teams being scalped by the minnows.

"Cricket has its glorious uncertainties. It all depends on what happens and how they start. It can happen that the weakest team in the competition can give surprises. There could be quite a few dark horses, and there is not much difference between the top six teams; so it could be anybody's World Cup," Kirmani said.

The Cup: Complete Coverage | More Specials