Cuttack: Legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev has strongly come out in defence of the beleaguered Indian cricket team which was thrashed during its just-concluded tour of New Zealand. "The dismal performance of the Indians, however, should not belittle India's chances at next month's World Cup in South Africa", Kapil told reporters last night. "In fact, this is perhaps the only team India has ever produced which has the potential to win the World Cup", the Wisden cricketer-of-the-century said.
Nobody in his wildest dream had ever thought that the 1983 team could win the cup in England, Kapil, who led the victorious team, said. While pointing out that India's disastrous tour to New Zealand had dented the confidence of the players and it would be difficult to restore their morale, the all- rounder held the pitches responsible for the debacle. "I had not seen such type of wickets anywhere during my two decade long career. Even if you pick ten world class batsmen and make them face mediocre bowlers on such turfs, I doubt if the team could make 150 runs", he said.
"No matter what the conditions were, the bottom line was India did not play good cricket on this tour in comparison to its performance during the previous ten months", Kapil said adding this was perhaps the worst performance by any team in the last two decades. Kapil was here to inspect the floodlights installed at the Barabati stadium by his company 'Dev Musco Lighting Pvt ltd.' The former skipper also refused to join issue on the subject of selection of the Indian team for the World Cup. "Whatever the selectors have done or thought, I hope they have done keeping in mind the pride of the country at the top", he said.
Kapil, who met newsmen at Sambalpur earlier, did not make much about talks of replacing the India captain Saurav Ganguly. Everybody should stand behind the Indian team at this juncture, he said adding Ganguly had the ability to keep the team united. The team had performed well in the past against Sri Lanka, England and West Indies, but it lacked a genuine all-rounder. If a good cricketer comes along to fill the post, the team would become strong, he said. Kapil also deplored that the players were made to play for ten months a year and did not get the opportunity to practice. The BCCI is also not in the mood to listen to any suggestion, he said.