Two-time ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup winner Sir Vivian Richards has urged unbeaten India to stay positive and attack at all costs as they try to win a third title this year.
India took everything in front of them in the 13th edition of the World Cup this year and won all the eight matches they played to seal a place in the semi-finals next week.
Richards – renowned as one of the greatest attacking players of his era as he helped West Indies to World Cup success in 1975 and 1979 – wants to see India continue to play to their strengths and avoid any negative thoughts as they try to stay. undefeated and added to their previous titles in 1983 and 2011.
“India have a mindset that they can go all the way playing like this,” said Richards in his column for the ICC.
“That’s definitely their mindset and mine when I’m in the dressing room – let’s go out with all guns blazing. That approach has worked so far and if that changes, things can go astray.
“I believe they can go all the way undefeated, which is something to really strive for. There might be some fears that ‘we’ve played really well so far, maybe we’ll have a bad game in around the semi-final’. They have to try and shake it off and put aside any negative thoughts.”
Much of India’s chances of adding a third World Cup trophy to their cabinet will depend on the fortunes of Virat Kohli, with the former captain having scored two centuries while amassing 543 runs in the tournament at an average of 108.60.
Kohli will break Sachin Tendulkar’s long-standing record for most ODI centuries in the game’s history if he reaches triple figures in the rest of the tournament and Richards admitted he remains in awe of the Indian star’s performances.
“I’m a big fan of Virat, I have been for a long time, and he continues to show why he should go down as one of the all-time greats, right up there with the likes of the great Sachin, Richards said.
“Virat has gone through some tough times before this World Cup and some people are bold enough to call for his head.
“Credit has to be given to the backroom staff and everyone behind him. A lot has been said about his form but he’s back on top of his game. It’s amazing to see an individual with such a low score bounce back and play like This. They say form is temporary – and he has certainly proved that class is permanent. I am very happy for him, he is very focused and he is a credit to the game of cricket.
Richards has no doubt that it is Kohli’s mental approach to the game that separates him from many of his peers who have the same amount of talent.
“Virat is a go-getter and what sets him apart is his mental strength,” Richards said.
“He supports himself throughout, and on the occasions in the past when I’ve chatted with him and we’ve talked about things, his mental strength has always been evident. Few players, or people, are built that like that.
“A lot of people have drawn comparisons between the two of us over the years, partly because of our shared intensity on the field. I love Virat’s enthusiasm – whether he’s fielding long-on or long -off, when one of his bowlers hits. the pad, he’s attractive. He’s always in the game and I like individuals like that.”
While Kohli has long been a favorite of Richards, the West Indies great admitted he also likes Shubman Gill as the India opener reminded him of how he used to play.
Gill became the No.1 player in the MRF Tires ODI Batter Rankings last week when he surpassed Pakistan captain Babar Azam, while Richards holds the highest rating in ODI cricket history when he registered a total which was 935 rating points at the end of 1985.
“Shubman Gill is another bat with style and he is the only one among a whole host of players who have all the big shots,” Richards said.
“I just hope no one forgets that a guy without a helmet named Vivian Richards comes out and plays like that sometimes!
“Some of the shots played today are what I’d like to think I have in my armoury, maybe with the exception of the reverse sweep, but that’s not smart without the cover.
“I’d like to think my scoring rate matches the guys playing now, even if the game goes on a lot – as a fan, I’m happy with where the game is now.”