Just playing for Tendulkar won’t get India the World Cup: Waugh
New Delhi : Former Australia captain Steve Waugh does not believe in the refrain that the Indian cricket team should win the World Cup for Sachin Tendulkar, saying that a side cannot go on to lift the coveted trophy playing for just one person.
"I think that is not the right approach. You can`t win the World Cup laying for just one person. You play for the team, for the country. The game is bigger than any individual," Waugh said here on Friday.
Tendulkar, playing in his sixth and probably the last World Cup, holds almost every conceivable record in an illustrious career spanning over two decades, but the only thing missing from his impressive portfolio is the coveted trophy.
Waugh said that India are definitely one of the favourites and if the team does win, it will cap off a great career for Tendulkar.
The country has its hopes pinned on the champion batsman, and Waugh believed that Tendulkar`s role will be crucial in tricky situations.
"Tendulkar may not be the star of the tournament but he is going to play key roles in crucial moments," he said. In the capital to launch PlayUp, an interactive skill based gaming product, Waugh said the forthcoming tournament is likely to give the 50-over format a fresh lease of life.
"This could reinvigorate the 50-over game. This could reignite the passion among fans, and what better place than India to lift the game," Waugh, who led Australia to the title in 1999, said.
Many have said that India, seeking to break a 28-year-old jinx, would be under a lot of pressure playing in front of home crowd but Waugh said the team, especially skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, should "embrace" the pressure.
"Pressure is a good thing and as a captain it`s a great thing that Dhoni is under pressure. India and Dhoni should embrace it," Waugh, who will be associated with the Australian contingent during the 2012 London olympics, said.
Dew has always been a factor during day-night matches in the sub- continent and Waugh, having played in this part of the world on umerous occasions, is no stranger to that.
"Dew will play a major factor and toss too, from the quarter-final stage, will be crucial," he said.
Waugh said it`s important to peak at the right time in a tournament like World Cup.
"It`s important to carry the momentum. Don`t read too much into the first few games` results," he said.
The former skipper also expressed surprise at Cricket Australia`s decision to omit the still-recovering Mike Hussey from the 15-man squad.
"It`s a big loss. Hussey should have been in the team and prepare him for the quarterfinals, but that provides an opportunity to others. His brother (David) is pretty good.
That`s how it is, you have to step up," Waugh said citing the example of the 2003 World Cup when none gave Australia a chance after Shane Warne was sent back following a dope test.
Asked about the current Australian team in the context of the Men in Blue`s consistent showings over the past few seasons, Waugh replied with a straight bat: "Australia have done it on big occasions. They win the big matches when it counts."
He, however, observed that Dhoni`s bunch is more confident that ever.
"This Indian side is very confident, very experienced, and their aggressive approach has made a big difference besides having Gary Kirsten as coach," Waugh said.
A humiliating Ashes defeat to England has somewhat diminished Australia`s aura but Waugh felt they are still a force to reckon with in world cricket.
"For the moment let`s focus on limited overs game. We have won three World Cups on the trot and we are still the number one ranked side in ODIs, so taking all this into factor, we can say that Australia is still one of the favourites," Waugh said.
Asked to predict the five best bowlers in the World Cup, Waugh put his money on Dale Steyn, Lasith Malinga, Brett Lee, Graeme Swann and Harbhajan Singh.
Talking about Australia`s strength, Waugh said, "We are a pretty balanced side. They have taken a very aggressive approach by taking quite a few fast bowlers. They have to stay fit throughout the tournament."
Waugh also supported ICC`s ruling against the tainted Pakistani trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, though he empathised with the later.
"It will set a precedent. Aamer is once in a generation kind of a player and it`s shameful for Pakistan, but I support the ICC," he said.
Waugh also felt that the seven-match one-day series following a gruelling Ashes series was a bit too long.
"It should have been five or three-match (ODI) series.
But professional cricketers these days are expected to play that much, so they are a little bit careful complaining about itinerary."