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Kohli Dhoni

Kapil Dev backs 'unmatchable' Kohli, Dhoni to play big role at World Cup

Kapil Dev, India's World Cup-winning captain, believed a mix of youth and experience in a well-balanced squad would work in India's favour at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019.

Dev, who led India to their first title in the 1983 event, backed the team to reach the knockouts in this edition, going in as one of the strongest sides. 

"India has a great combination of youth and experience. In a way they are more experienced than the other teams," he said at a promotional event on Wednesday, 9 May. "They have the right balance – four fast bowlers, three spinners and they have Virat Kohli and [MS] Dhoni.

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CWC Greatest Moments: Kapil Dev's 175* rescues India from 17/5 v Zimbabwe in 1983

"Dhoni and Kohli have done extremely well for India. Both of them are unmatchable."

Dev, who finished his career with 253 wickets in 225 one-day internationals to be arguably India's greatest fast-bowling all-rounder, was all praise for the team's pace attack. "The four fast bowlers we have are fantastic," he said. "The English conditions will help them swing the ball. Then players like [Mohammed] Shami and [Jasprit] Bumrah can bowl 145kph, have swing and pace."

The pacers will be backed by Hardik Pandya, the all-rounder. Since his debut, Pandya has prompted high expectations among fans that he could be a cricketer in the Kapil Dev vein. However, the veteran dismissed comparisons.

Dhoni and Kohli have done extremely well for India. Both of them are unmatchable.

Kapil Dev

"You should not put pressure on Hardik Pandya," he said. "He has enough talent, let him play his natural game. I don't like anybody being compared to anyone because that puts pressure on that player."

Naming India as one of the favourites, along with Australia and England, with New Zealand and West Indies as the dark horses, he added, "I think India will definitely finish in the top four. After that it will be really difficult. After the semifinals, stroke of luck alongside personal and team performance will determine who goes forward."

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