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08 October 201000:54

Sehwag key for India's chances, says Richards

It's crucial for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to receive support from all members of the squad, he said

Sehwag key for India's chances, says Richards - Cricket News

Sir Vivian Richards.

The Indian cricket team will have to make a wholehearted, unified and focussed endeavour to nurture hopes of winning the ICC Cricket World Cup next year, legendary West Indies batsman Sir Vivian Richards said on Thursday, and appealed to local fans to take the results sportingly.

The ex-captain said that it was crucial for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to receive support from all members of the squad at the ICC Cricket World Cup, to be played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from February-April.

Richards, is in New Delhi, as ambassador of the Antigua and Barbuda delegation at the Commonwealth Games, said that much would also depend on the kind of the starts that Virender Sehwag would provide. Legendary allrounder Kapil Dev agreed with him. Kapil and Richards concurred that Sehwag comes closest to the stle and swagger of the West Indian.

"At the top of the order, you do need individuals like that [Sehwag]. What I know for sure, the only way that could hamper the way these guys play is the enormous pressure that they put on themselves when they are at home. At times, when they don't do well, effigies are set alight," Richards told Headlines Today in an exclusive interview.

"You have home advantage but that never really suggests that you are going to win it. Everybody collectively got to be thinking the same way. There are so many things. It would be perfect at home and I know Dhoni would be thinking in that particular manner," he said.

Widely regarded as one of the most destructive batsmen of all time, Richards said that fans would have to remain calm.

"I hope that Indian crowds, and certain spectators, are a little bit more forgiving when these things are concerned. They have enough substance in that [national] team in order to get it done," he emphasised.

Calling Dhoni a "brave" skipper, Richards opined that he and the team would also have bad days along with the good ones.

"Sometimes being captain can add pressure. If he settles down and gets the support, just as in the last Test [against Australia in Mohali], it is what is going to take to lift the cup, not just one or two individuals having a good series," he said.

"But collectively if the team can play well enough, then Dhoni can join the same mould as Kapil winning the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1983. This 2011 would be very special, that would be the icing on the cake of all that stuff that they have had, like beating Australia here [ in 2000-01], in Australia, and No. 1 ranking as a Test team... just little finishing touches, winning the World Cup," he outlined.

Richards said that the onewicket win in the Mohali Test would boost India's confidence.

"They have a long way to go. India has done well up to this point and you have got to give them credit ... people like coach Gary Kirsten. I think ever since he came in, there has been a better connection on what can be done," he said.

"These close wins give you the opportunity to become so much better." Richards especially lauded VVS Laxman's role - an unbeaten 73 in the second innings with a troublesome back - in Mohali, and said he's a shining example that West Indian players could follow.

"West Indians are just as talented as anyone, getting their mind ready and prepared to do so. And when you look for a perfect example, a Laxman [would be ideal, especially] in the situation that India were the other day," he pointed out.

Former captain Kapil Dev said that Sehwag would be key to India's ICC Cricket World Cup plans.

"If he can have the same ruthless approach and performs the way he does, the chances are brighter. The team, collectively, is very important. But certain players play very key roles. I would like to see Yuvraj [Singh] coming back because he is a match winner too," he said.