New Delhi: Notwithstanding India's winless streak against South Africa in World Cups, VVS Laxman feels the 'Men in Blue' can beat the Proteas as confidence levels are high after the victory against Pakistan and the batting line-up has enough depth to take on Dale Steyn and company.
"Even though the results did not go India's way in Australia earlier, the current form of Indian batsmen and the way they played against Pakistan in the last game is encouraging. It shows that, having been in Australia for about two and a half months, they have got used to the Australian conditions and have adapted themselves to play on bouncy and quicker wickets," Laxman, who is one of the experts on the Star Sports panel, told PTI in an interview.
"Although it will be a challenge to play against the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel or Imran Tahir, the Indian batting line-up has enough depth and talent to do well against any bowling lineup in the world," he added.
Laxman, a veteran of 134 Tests and 86 ODIs, also feels that India's bowlers will have a spring in their step after their good showing against Misbah-ul-Haq and company.
"After winning the opening match against Pakistan, the confidence quotient is high among the Indian bowlers and that will come in handy when bowling to the formidable South African batting line-up. In the game against Pakistan, all the bowlers bowled to a plan and picked wickets consistently," the stylish Hyderabadi batsman said.
"Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami executed the plan to perfection by bowling in the right areas while Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja kept pressure on the Pakistani batsmen with their spin," he added.
India lost to the Proteas in 1992, 1999 and 2011 and World Cup but Laxman opined that what happened in the past does not matter.
"A lot of players from the current Indian XI have not been there in the previous match or encounters and so it is difficult to take the outcomes of previous encounters into consideration.
"The players will know the strength and the weaknesses of the opposition team and should focus completely on playing to their potential to overcome the challenges and do well in the current match," he said.
Also commenting on the strength of co-hosts New Zealand, Laxman said that the Black Caps, who comprehensively beat Sri Lanka in the World Cup opener and also got past Scotland in their second game, have finally found the self-belief needed to win a major tournament.
"I have said this in the past, since the time Brendon McCullough became the captain of New Zealand, their approach and subsequent results have been positive. As a squad, this is one of the most confident New Zealand side that I have seen on a cricket field. Kane Williamson has led the batting scores and (Trent) Bolt and (Tim) Southee have been consistent with ball," said Laxman.
New Zealand, who have made it to six World Cup semi-finals, have failed to cross the final-four hurdle but Laxman believes that this edition will see a different story.
"While they were always good, especially in big tournaments, and they have come to the semi-final stages quite consistently, I always felt that they did not have the self belief within them that they can go on and win the cup.
"However, since the last one year, not only with the results they are getting, their approach looks very positive and I think that their performance speaks for itself. I definitely believe that they are one of the strong contenders and favorites to win this World Cup," he said.
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