WC 2003 - Indians deserve to win the World Cup: Latif

Published: Friday, March 21, 2003, 23:57 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Newly appointed Pakistan captain Rashid Latif has given India the thumbs-up to win the World Cup, saying it thoroughly deserves it for the way it has come back in the tournament after its indifferent start."The general perception is that Australia deserves to win the final (on Sunday). Yes, Australia has played some excellent cricket in this World Cup, but one cannot forget the way India has fought back after its dismal performance against the Aussies at Centurion five weeks ago."Their transformation has been remarkable, and purely on the basis of springing back from that debacle, I think the Indians deserve to win the World Cup," Latif wrote in the International Cricket Council's (ICC) official website."Not too many teams in the world have the ability to come back from such a situation." Latif was all praise for Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly for his faith in his men and the way he had made them give their best."The remarkable comeback was made possible thanks to the leadership on and off field of Saurav Ganguly. Indian fans were really down after the defeat at Aussie hands (at Centurion on March 15) and their reaction back home could have completely demoralised any team."The way Ganguly handled the situation with complete confidence and determination speaks volumes for his faith in his team. The players too responded by backing their captain, and they were cool and calm in their approach," Latif said. After the Australia debacle, India has won eight matches in a row, including one against arch rivals Pakistan. Latif rated Tendulkar's 98 against his team on March 1 as better than any of his centuries."Sachin totally surprised Pakistan with the onslaught against Shoaib Akhtar and the two Ws (Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis). He is on course to be the Best Player of the Tournament and definitely deserves this distinction," Latif said.He said the master blaster would be the key if India was to be successful against Australian bowlers Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Andy Bichel. But Latif felt the other batsmen - especially Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif and Virender Sehwag - would also have to make big contributions.Latif said the changes made in the Indian batting order after the match against Australia had worked out perfectly. "The strategy they came up with was to open with Sehwag and Tendulkar through this World Cup, while the middle order was left flexible to be adjusted according to the situation inthe game," he said.Latif also gave credit to coach John Wright the backbone of this outstanding resurgence of Indian team - and the pace bowling trio, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra."There has been criticism about the Indians not playing one extra bowler, either Ajit Agarkar or Anil Kumble. The superlative performance of the three pacers - Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Nehra - have made up for all such criticism. "They have stuck to an excellent line and length, and have made batsmen earn the runs," Latif said. PTI

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