Greater Noida, March 9: One of the 1983 World Cup-winning heroes, Madan Lal is mightily impressed with the current Indian cricket team and believes that they can "99 percent" retain the prestigious title.
"I must say that India is playing very good cricket at the moment. The way they are playing is the best I have seen in a long time," the former bowling all-rounder said here on Monday.
"India can 99 percent win this World Cup. If one day goes bad, that is another thing and if they don't win, then it will be due to their own mistakes. But hats off to them for how they have played so far."
India have started their World Cup campaign on a brilliant note by defeating Pakistan, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the West Indies on the trot to qualify for the quarter-finals. In the process, they won their eighth match in a row in World Cups which equals their previous longest Cup streak, established in 2003.
"The team has done well in all the departments, bowling, batting and fielding. The turnaround that they made following their tour of Australia is remarkable," added Lal, who inaugurated his new cricket academy at Gaur City here on Monday.
Though the first three victories were comprehensive, India struggled to a four-wicket win over the Windies in their last match at Perth on Friday. However, the 63-year-old, who played for India from 1974 to 1987, played down the issue.
"The West Indies match was very important. I don't think they played poorly. These kind of things keep happening in sports. It was a tight match and a very good win. Also, you must not discount the WACA wicket which is pretty tricky," said Lal, who is well remembered for his spell of three quick wickets that broke the back of the West Indies batting in the 1983 final.
"It was important that (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni spent some time out in the middle and got some runs under his belt. It is a plus point and it will also boost his confidence. The team now has 6-7 players who can win India a match on their own."
Asked to comment on the recent controversy where vice-captain Virat Kohli was involved in an ugly spat with a journalist of a leading national daily, Lal said the top order batsman should have controlled himself.
"Kohli did not do the correct thing and the incident should not have happened. He should keep his emotions under control. He is a young player and made a mistake. But I am sure he learned from this incident and is unlikely to do such a thing in future," concluded the former right-arm pacer.