Australian legend Steve Waugh thinks India has to improve its ability to win big matches in the 50-over format in order to strengthen its claim for the cricket World Cup.
Waugh, who led Australia to win the 1999 World Cup after being part of the 1987 title winning team, said the Aussies were more capable of clinching big-stage encounters.
“India is an experienced side and well-coached by Gary Kirsten. They are now more aggressive and confident but they have to win the big matches.
“(Mahendra Singh) Dhoni has done a good job as a captain. The same holds for South Africa. Their past of not winning big matches comes back to haunt them.
“Australia has won big matches when it counts and that is what India has to do,” said Waugh here on Friday.
According to Waugh, as the home team captain, Dhoni should enjoy the pressure. “If there is no pressure, you will not do well. Pressure is good.
“You can test yourself in the toughest of conditions. As a captain you cannot be in a better situation to test yourself. If you take pressure in a positive way, it is good. Otherwise you will have problems,” he said.
Asked about his opinion on the ongoing debate about India winning the World Cup for Sachin Tendulkar, Waugh put things into perspective.
“You want to win it for the team and most importantly for the country. You certainly cannot win just for one person. The game is bigger than any certain individual. You have to win it for each other.
“I am sure that even Tendulkar will like to win it for the team and the country. If India wins the World Cup, it will cap off a brilliant career.”
Waugh thought Tendulkar would be an important cog in the wheel for India. “Tendulkar's role will be very important. When you need to take control of the game or stop the opposition, he would play a major part. He will have a very crucial role,” he said.
Winning the toss
Evaluating India's chances, the former Australian captain said any team which reached the quarterfinals would be capable of winning the title. “Winning the toss from quarterfinals onwards is important as dew under lights will be a major factor,” he said.
Waugh rated Australia very highly as the team was preparing to annex the title for the fourth consecutive time. “It is a well-balanced side. It is the only team to pick four fast bowlers, which speaks about its aggressive strategies. The key would be to keep the bowlers fit,” he said.
Waugh thought the absence of players like Michael Hussey and Nathan Hauritz due to injuries would be a “big loss” for the Aussies.
However, he considered this an opportunity for others to rise to the occasion. Waugh said injuries were bound to happen to players as they were playing a lot of cricket and earning substantially.
On the bowlers who could make an impact in the mega event, Waugh listed Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga, English spinner Graeme Swann, Aussie speedster Brett Lee and India's Harbhajan Singh.
Busy with the activities of Steve Waugh Foundation, his own business and his role as a promoter of Australia's preparations for the London Olympics, Waugh said he was too tied up to think about taking up the job of coaching the Indian team.
Keywords: 2011 cricket World Cup