Cricket World Cup 2011
Dhoni backs CWC schedule
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (File)
New Delhi - India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday said the schedule of the upcoming Cricket World Cup could prove to be a blessing in disguise for his injury-hit team.
The scheduling of the six-week tournament was recently slammed as "ridiculous" by top England batsman Kevin Pietersen who said the gaps between games were too long.
The Indians have been sweating over the fitness of batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, and paceman Praveen Kumar in the build-up to the showpiece event, which starts in Dhaka on February 19.
India, co-hosts of the tournament along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, are set to play six league matches in the space of 29 days and Dhoni said the gap would allow his players to recoup their energies.
"The schedule may work in our favour," Dhoni said at a promotional event in the Indian capital. "It will help our players relax and take care of niggles and injuries.
"We will be looking to play our best eleven and ensure that we do not miss out on our main players due to injuries. We will try and utilise the gaps in the schedule in the best possible manner."
Dhoni also sounded upbeat about the quarterfinal format of the tournament, which was first used in 1996 before being discarded.
"It is a bit of a relief," said the wicketkeeper-batsman, who led India to their maiden World Twenty20 triumph in 2007.
"Even if we have an off-day and lose one or two matches, we won't get out of the tournament. Teams which will play more consistently will benefit from it."
India suffered a humiliating first-round exit in the previous edition of the World Cup in the Caribbean despite starting as one of the favourites.
The Indian captain was hopeful his team will become the first to win a World Cup on home soil despite the pressure of expectations from fans.
"The 1983 team achieved something really big when they won the World Cup. We have the self-belief. We back each other and have a great dressing room environment.
"We treat pressure as an added responsibility. Expectations are bound to be there when you play as big a tournament as the World Cup. But we have experienced players in the side who know how to deal with it.
"We also know no team has ever won the World Cup on their home soil. But just because no one has done it before does not mean that it cannot be done.
"We have a very good chance of creating history."