Sunny outlook for India at Cricket World Cup

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2014
MS Dhoni
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ALL NOT LOST: India captain MS Dhoni.

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India's poor cricketing form in New Zealand means nothing and two Australasian reconnaissance missions will help them defend the Cricket World Cup, says an Indian cricketing legend.

Sunil Gavaskar is in New Zealand commentating the series between New Zealand and India and this week worked as a Cricket World Cup ambassador, travelling throughout the country promoting the tournament, posing for photos and talking cricket.

India's first Little Master had to defend the form of the current crop of players to many, but the 1983 World Cup winner remains confident the Indians can win their third World Cup.

Despite the 4-0 ODI series loss to New Zealand and the first test loss, Gavaskar said the side were learning plenty and the "very talented" bunch of players would benefit from more exposure to international cricket and the New Zealand conditions.

This tour and one to Australia next summer pre-World Cup would be crucial to the side's development, he said.

One of the problems the Indians faced was bringing through players with enormous talent from the strong domestic competition to international cricket.

The retirement of a number of experienced stars, most notably Sachin Tendulkar, has left the side light on experience but that will be rectified by this time next year when the World Cup is underway.

The current crop were learning quickly, he said.

"You can already see they're making changes and learning from the ODI series.

"They're starting to show they're adapting to the conditions and the bowling and I think the team is really keen to learn and improve and that's a great sign."

The other factor which pointed to back-to-back Indian titles, Gavaskar reckoned, was their fielding.

They've hardly set the world alight in the field this tour, but they're far better than they were.

"In 2011 when India won, the fielding wasn't up to standard," he said.

"It was some of the best Indian players of all time that helped them win the tournament, but not the fielding. The fielding is so much better now and those younger players are going to save extra runs in the field and run extra runs when they're batting.

"They're talented and that increased exposure over the next 12 months [will help]. "

Having watched New Zealand closely over the last month, Gavaskar backed them to beat anyone at the World Cup.

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