The most obscene sight on television through the past month was the pot-bellied, loud-mouthed, know-it-all ex-cricketer, also known as the “expert”, strutting around studios, preening, prancing, pontificating and predicting a certain Indian triumph, when they should have known better: that this is a game which two sides play.
After being virtually knocked out of the tournament, it is useful to go over what the Paid Pipers, in whose wisdom the man on the street places so much faith, said on India’s chances. With expert analysis like this, even Ma Prem Rithambara‘s tarot cards attain a faint halo of credibility. And this, we take as gospel truth?
1) Sunil Gavaskar: On a scale of 10, I would say 9. And I seriously believe that… They are definitely better prepared this time going by the sheer volume of matches they have played in, as well as the fact that they have played almost every team. Therefore, they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
2) Sir Vivian Richards: I have always felt that India do have a great chance. So long as India are fit and fully equipped in mind and body, it’s a team that I think could go all the way.
3) Kiran More: I’m very, very hopeful that Team India will put up an outstanding performance. India should have a cakewalk in the group stage, but the Super Eight series is going to be very crucial because there the matches will be against the best sides. There won’t be any pressure after that. The important thing is that if you are aiming at winning the World Cup, you’ve to win crucial games against big teams. I think we’ve a very good opportunity to win this World Cup.
4) Syed Kirmani: We have a very good chance of winning the World Cup. We have got a very good, balanced side, blended with experience and youth. All our team members are in good form. Winning the series against Sri Lanka and the West Indies was a good sign that all our top batsmen and bowlers are in top form and they showed a lot of consistency and commitment. I am sure their confidence level must be really high. I hope that they maintain that level. I am confident that they will do well.
5) Anshuman Gaekwad: I think India has a s good a chance of wining as some of the more fancied teams. The important thing is we have to play to our potential. Team India is a proven commodity at the international level now. So there is nothing to worry about it. I think this is India’s best chance to win the World Cup, all factors considered.
6) Robin Singh: India has a good chance of winning the World Cup in the West Indies because the combined experience of all the members of Team India is simply mind-boggling, just like Australia’s. We’ve the batsmen and bowlers to play the kind of cricket you need to play in an event like the World Cup.
7) Geoff Boycott: To be honest, the team in blue hasn’t exactly been in the pink of health for a year and more. But the good thing is that in the last couple of months or so, things have started to come together. India’s batting strength makes me think its shot will be of the stronger kind. On the seaming-a-bit, turning-a-bit-more pitches of Trinidad in particular, this team could upset quite a few people.
8) Krishnamachari Srikkanth: I will not be surprised if India win the World Cup. We have a very well balanced side with experience and all-rounders that has lent stability. The pitches in the West Indies are expected to be similar to those in the sub-continent.
9) Sir Garfield Sobers: India has a host of match winners and any of these players are capable of steering the team to success in the World Cup.
10) Arjuna Ranatunga: India should win the World Cup. I have never seen a stronger Indian one-day side: it’s well represented in batting and its bowling crop is very, very impressive. It’s so good, I guess, that raising the issue of fielding appears a bit improper.
11) Kapil Dev: The current team is far better than the one which won the Cup in 1983. They are far more experienced. They are confident. They just have to apply themselves.
A simple search shows that only Bishen Bedi and Mohinder Amarnath among the greats showed any semblance of balance while sticking their necks out. Thankfully, Kapil felt that India’s chances of lifting the title depended the team’s performance in the preliminary matches.