#NewsBytesExclusive: Proud to lead India in World Cup, says Shailendra
India are all set to feature in their maiden over 50s World Cup to be held in South Africa from March 10 to 24 this year. West Indies, Namibia and Zimbabwe will also be making their debuts in the tournament for the 50-year-olds. Sports maverick Shailendra Singh, who will be leading Team India, spoke to NewsBytes in an exclusive interview. Here's more.
Feels great to represent your nation at this level: Shailendra
"It feels great to lead your country in such a huge tournament. Since this is 45-over format, there's a lot of planning off the field. I believe cricket is always played in the mind first. You ought to study your opposition," Shailendra told NewsBytes.
The tournament is shaped in a league format
A total number of 12 teams, divided over two pools, will participate in the tournament. While Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe are present in Pool A, India are placed in Pool B alongside England, Pakistan, Namibia, South Africa and Wales. India will play their opening game against England on March 11 before facing arch-rivals Pakistan on March 13.
Every nation will have four matches to stake claim
As many as 42 matches will be played at the top grounds around Cape Town and Stellenbosch, with the final scheduled at the famous Newlands Cricket Ground. Four semi-finalists will emerge from the two pools after playing each other once. The four teams will then battle it out for the final. Australia clinched the inaugural World Cup edition in Sydney in 2018.
A huge fan of Kapil Dev: Shailendra
Shailendra asserted that he draws a lot of motivation from the previous Indian skippers - Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly. "Kapil Dev is my biggest inspiration in every walk of life. We as a team would like to replicate what he did back in 1983." Shailendra said. He added, "Sourav Ganguly changed the Indian cricket, while Dhoni brought the required flamboyance."
Team India will need to keep fitness factor in account
The over 50s Indian captain believes the South African conditions are going to be challenging for the team. "It's going to be an interesting tournament. I have got a lot of experience, but the issue is fitness," he said. "We have been playing a lot of cricket for long, but playing consecutive games in foreign conditions and recouping is always tough," he added.
Spinners will be the key in South Africa
According to Shailendra, the Indian team is meticulously fuelled with a bunch of spinners and all-rounders. He feels that spin will be play a pivotal role on the dry South African decks as tournament progresses. India are backed up with chinaman Ashwin Arora who took a hat-trick last year's MPL and former Mumbai batsman Iqbal Khan, India's vice-captain in the tournament.
We rely heavily on spinners: Shailendra Event title
"One of our biggest strengths is the chinaman Ashwin Arora who has got a deadly googly. Also, Iqbal Khan and wicket-keeper Parak Ananta are capable of turning the game in 20 minutes. We have got four spinners and six all-rounders overall," Shailendra stated.
Shailendra Singh vouches for the possibility of such tournaments
Shailendra reiterated that over 50s World Cup could be a usual affair in future as England, Australia and South Africa regularly host such tournaments. "These three countries have a regular 50s county season and that is why their players are far more in the groove than we are. I believe age is just a number. So why not play veteran cricket?" he said.