World Cup: No need to press panic button, says Tendulkar

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar is in no mood to press the “panic” button after India’s loss to New Zealand in its first World Cup warm-up game, saying Virat Kohli’s men should utilise the practice matches to learn more about the conditions ahead of the main tournament.

Pre-tournament favourite India put up a dismal show in its opening practice game, losing by six wickets to New Zealand in London on Saturday.

Electing to bat, India made a below-par 179, which the Kiwis chased down in 37.1 overs.

“I will not judge the team after each and every game. It’s a tournament and things like these will happen. The main tournament has not even started yet,” Tendulkar said at a round-table conference on the sidelines of the Mumbai T20 League here Sunday.

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“I think, we need to settle down, one or two games may go here and there. India should make most of the practice matches leading to the World Cup. They should understand what kind of surfaces they might get. I won’t panic at all as of now,” he added.

The master blaster said warm-up games provide all participating teams an idea about things to come and plan accordingly in the main tournament.

“Many a times, teams are trying different combinations, batting line up. Almost all teams are not sure about their front-line, playing 11, several bowlers and batsmen are rested. Nobody is wanting to expose their proper playing XI.

“All the teams are preparing and trying different combinations in those conditions, which would work for them,” he said.

Tendulkar picked Afghanistan to produce major surprises in the showpiece, starting May 30 in the United Kingdom.

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Afghanistan showed its giant-killing intentions in the first warm-up game, stunning Pakistan by three wickets in Bristol on Friday. “I have said it earlier that Afghanistan will throw up surprises in the World Cup because they have one of the best spin bowling attacks. Even if they treat it like Test cricket, they will still take wickets in the middle overs,” he said.

The upcoming tournament will feature 10 best cricketing nations of the world but Tendulkar was of the view that the custodians of the game need to engage more teams in a world event.

“Ideally, if it is called the World Cup, then the world should be participating and we need to find ways to engage more and more teams and yet keep that standard of play high. It is not going to happen overnight and we need to find ways to do that,” he said.

“So ideally I would love to see more than 10 teams participating, but also at the same time not to compromise on the standard of playing. So it’s going to be a lengthy process.

“That can only happen if ‘A’ teams of India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand go and play against the new teams, not just ODI cricket but also three-four day cricket to give them that exposure, to make them understand the standard of playing and get them ready for bigger tournaments.”

Talking about the pitches likely to be offered in the UK, Tendulkar said, “Yesterday (in India’s warm-up match) was a different kind of pitch with a bit of grass cover on it and the conditions were slightly in favour of bowlers upfront and as the time went by, the wicket settled down little more. I think the wickets will change, they will get little flatter and spinners will come into play much more.”

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