Mumbai, Feb 9: India's World Cup-winning coach Gary Kirsten feels it would be premature to write off the defending champions and said the holders have a good chance of retaining the title with skipper MS Dhoni at the helm.
"They are a quality outfit and I wouldn't write them off. They have got one of the most successful captains ever and in terms of closing off the events, let's not discount the Dhoni factor. A lot of things have changed and shifted in his life at the moment but when it comes to these events, he steps up and he is at his best," Kirsten told reporters here on Sunday (February 8). (A first: 4K technology for WC)
"A lot of people seem to be writing India off but they have a very strong batting line-up. They have played a lot of cricket in Australia. There would be no reason to suggest why they wouldn't have as good a chance as any other team."
India failed to win a single match in the recently concluded tri-series tournament featuring England and World Cup hosts Australia. "This team has been together for two years and they won the Champions Trophy, so they still have some credibility. You have got to be wary of them and not take them for granted," Kirsten said.
The South African admitted that the team hasn't been playing to the best of its ability but said it would allow the side to figure out the best 11 ahead of the knockout rounds.
"They are misfiring at the moment but maybe it's a good thing. I don't think we should read too much into it. I think it's healthy that teams that aren't playing well now, it's not a bad thing," said the 47-year-old.
"You need to be playing at your best in a month's time. They have got a lot of time with practice game and seven round robin games, to work out the combinations. For me that's where the tournament begins. They might not be playing their best at the moment but they have got a good chance."
The former India coach felt India would perform well playing without pressure as most people have written them off. "They are not batting well as they can now. It is probably a good thing. I think it's an advantage. Everyone writes them off, there is no expectation. It's a beautiful place for a team to be in, when there is no expectation.
"They can plan with less pressure and play with more freedom. I don't think they would be too concerned about the criticism they receive and I think it is going to work in their favour," Kirsten said.