Dubai: With series against some top sides lined up, India coach Gary Kirsten said the team couldn’t have asked for a better build-up to the 2011 World Cup.
India will play Australia, New Zealand and South Africa prior to the quadrennial extravaganza, scheduled to start after exactly 150 days.
“We could not have asked for a better build-up to the ICC Cricket World Cup, with 13 ODIs against top opposition,” said Kirsten.
“I think we have a good idea of what the make-up of the squad will look like as long as there are no unforeseen injuries. Our form has been a little patchy this year but as everyone knows, winning a World Cup is about the confidence of the team in the crucial moments of the big games.”
“With a lot of teams capable of beating each other, it will make for some exciting match-ups,” Kirsten added.
The tournament kicks off with India playing Bangladesh in Dhaka on February 19.
Kirsten, one of the 10 players to have scored 150 or more in a single world cup innings, holds the record for the highest individual score in the tournament. The former South Africa opener smashed 188 not out against the UAE in the 1996 edition.
New Zealand’s Glenn Turner, another member in the exclusive 150-plus club, carried his bat to score an unbeaten 171 against East Africa, in the very first match of the inaugural edition in 1975.
The New Zealander, however, admits that the thought of scoring a double century never crossed his mind. “I did not think about the 200 because we ran out of time. I never really fancied my chances,” said Turner.
“Then we had no idea about the one-day game. Now they play so much more, there are field restrictions and they have brought in the rope a bit. All this helps the batsmen score quick runs. The batsmen are a lot more aggressive these days, unlike in our times.”
While Turner may not regret missing out on a double ton, Kirsten’s former opening partner Andrew Hudson, who scored 166 against the Netherlands in 1996, does.
“I got out in the 41st over but if I had batted through maybe I might have got a 200. But it was still a fantastic knock in terms of my career,” said Hudson, who is now Cricket South Africa’s Chairman of Selectors.