India's only World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev has some advice for Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Be aggressive as a captain and get back that ruthless batting of your early days as an international cricketer.
Kapil's team, which won the 1983 World Cup to bring about a sea change in Indian cricket, wants Dhoni to be a more aggressive batsman. Kapil has paid a handsome compliment to Dhoni's side, saying they are far more talented than his Devils. He has a rider, though: They will have to work very hard to win the Cup in the tournament beginning on the sub-continent Feb 19.
"I think the current team has more capable players than we had. Even if they fall short on the bowling and fielding fronts, the batting is strong enough to make up for the relatively weaker aspects. After all, one-day cricket is a batsman's game," Kapil told IANS in an interview.
"My heart says they should win, but my mind says that it is not going to be easy and they will have to work very hard to succeed. They have everything going for them and they are in an excellent position to win it at home. They should go all out for it."
Kapil strongly feels that Dhoni should go back to his power hitting that destroyed many an attack when he first came into the Indian side.
"I am a tad disappointed with Dhoni's approach to batting. When he came into international cricket, his batting was all power hitting, there was unbridled ruthlessness about the way he went after the bowling. That is missing and today he nudges and pushes the ball more. I understand with time you change your style, but the tempo should be maintained. I want to see a more aggressive Dhoni in the World Cup.
"As for his captaincy, Dhoni has all the traits of a good leader. He is bold and is not afraid of handling tricky situations. All in all, he has a lot of plus points."
Kapil, however, is uncomfortable with the "Mr Cool" tag on Dhoni and insists that a captain should not only be aggressive but should also be seen to be aggressive.
"I don't like this 'Mr. Cool' tag. A captain should be hard and strong-willed as a lot of youngsters in the team look up to him. He should be cool when handling the pressure and interacting with the media. But in the dressing room and on the field, a captain has to be aggressive," he said.
Coming to the team, Kapil is clear that there should have been an extra wicketkeeper as a cover for Dhoni.
"We do not have any back-up wicket-keeper for Dhoni. Looking at the squad I get worried, what if he gets injured? In 1983 we had Yashpal Sharma and in recent years Rahul Dravid, both efficient behind the stumps."
Kapil is pretty happy with the batting line-up and feels with six big hitters they should be dominating the opposition.
"Batting is our strength - Yusuf Pathan, Dhoni, Virender Sehwag are all big game changers. Not very far behind are youngsters Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. Then there is Sachin as the backbone and he knows how to pace a 50-overs game. Come to think of it, we have six big hitters who can ruthlessly go after any attack in all forms of the game," he said.
"The biggest advantage is playing at home, not in South Africa or Australia. They have pitches and conditions to suit their game. If even three out of our six batsmen perform, we can rustle up a score of 300 plus, which is good to defend on the sub-continental pitches.
"In bowling, I agree we do not have a Brett Lee or a Dale Steyn, but we have a decent attack. We have two batsmen-spinners and most of the seniors have the experience of playing in the World Cup.
Asked about the one thing that worked for India in 1983, Kapil said: "It was the fun and enjoyment we had on the ground and off it. We were passionate about the game and everybody made a great contribution. Since there were no expectations, our enjoyment reflected in our performance."
"The present side, too, should have the passion and pride to play for the country. The win will change their lives and the lives of billion others. I know ours changed when we won the Cup."
Kapil feels the pressure of playing at home should not be an issue. "The important thing is that India should enjoy playing. The home pressure should not be an issue. The players are professionals and they should know how to handle pressure. The team which can play well under pressure will only win," he said.