New Delhi: Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has come out in support of a struggling Anil Kumble, saying the leg spinner's experience could play a big role in shaping India's World Cup fortunes next year. "I think he will play a very big role, because he has played the 1996 and 1999 World Cups. So he is an experienced guy who has played for 10 years now. And of course he carries a big name and so many wickets under his belt," said Tendulkar in Star Sport's "India vs..." programme to be telecast on Tuesday.
Tendulkar said that during his captaincy, he always looked up to Kumble when the team needed breakthroughs. "He has always delivered in big games, and in pressure situations. Anil is a key guy and important member of the side - very important." Kumble, who had a disappointing One-day series against the West Indies, opted out of the Test series in New Zealand citing personal reasons. But he said he was keen to join the team for the seven One-day Internationals, which follows the Test series.
Talking about India's match against Pakistan in the coming World Cup, Tendulkar said it would be a big game and he was sure the team will do well. "Pakistan is a top side and they have been playing wonderful cricket in the recent past. Nobody would like to take things for granted. It's going to a big, big game." He said there was always an added pressure on players while they take on Pakistan, as the expectations were always very high.
"I am sure the expectations are very high and people want to know the result. So probably there is an added pressure on the players. We just try as hard. But the results really matter." Tendulkar also downplayed the changes made in the team in the last two-three years saying that India's performance in the recent past highlights the young players' talent. "From 1999 to 2000, you see seven names missing from the team - that's a huge change. And from a team to just get into World Cup with so many changes, it is going to be difficult.
But we have done well in the recent past - that's because we have some promising talent." He said during the 1999 World Cup, India was in a positive frame of mind as it had beaten Pakistan twice in the earlier editions of the event in 1992 and 1996. On the pitches in South Africa, Tendulkar said he hoped to see sporting wickets there, which will have some movement off the wicket.