Sehwag, Gambhir key to India’s World Cup glory

NEW DELHI: Senior batsman VVS Laxman today said that openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will be key to India’s campaign at the Cricket World Cup starting next month and the duo will have to fire if the co-host wants to lift the coveted trophy.

Laxman tipped India the hot favourites to win the World Cup given the favourable home conditions and the crowd support.

"Gambhir and Sehwag have been very important players for India. They have been doing well and they will have a huge role to play in the World Cup after coming back from the injury," said Laxman, who is not in India’s World Cup squad as he is now considered a Test specialist.

"India have the best chance to win the World Cup. I don’t want to put undue pressure to the players by predicting the favourites. But I think the team can touch the glory of 1983.

They have the potential and talent to lift the trophy. The team has been performing consistently over the last year and a half.

"The event is happening in India so we will have favourable conditions. With all the encouragement and crowd support, it will boost India’s confidence," said the classy right-hand batsman. There will be pressure but they are professional players and they know how to handle pressure.

There is positive energy in the team," he said at the sidelines of the annual day function of Sumermal Jain Public School here.

While Sehwag is nursing a shoulder injury, Gambhir is recovering from an elbow injury.

Asked about the historic Eden Gardens being stripped of India-England World Cup tie on February 27 due to incomplete infrastructure-related work, the stylish Hyderabadi batsman said, "Eden is a very important venue but I am sure that the remaining matches would be held there and people will enjoy them."

Laxman said fitness issues of some Indian players will be sorted out before the World Cup and they will train at the National Cricket Academy.

"The fitness issues will be sorted out before the World Cup. They will go to Bangalore for training," he said.

Asked about being honoured the Padma Shri recently, Laxman said, "It is a great honour. Whatever contribution I have made to the country in the 10-15 years has been rewarded.

It’s a very good feeling that I have been bestowed the Padma Shri."

Laxman said India will miss the services of South African coach Gary Kirsten when he quits after the World Cup.

"India will miss Gary. He has a huge influence on the Indian team and the last three years he has done a wonderful job. There is no doubt that it will be tough to fill in his shoes. The environment he has created during his stay will remain forever with the team but he will be missed," said the 36-year-old cricketer.

Kirsten took over as India coach in March 2008 and during his tenure, the team recorded Test and ODI series whitewash of Australia (2-0 and 1-0) and New Zealand (1-0 and 5-0) last year, both at home.(PTI)

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