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    India are firm WC favourites: Gavaskar

    The former Indian batsman believes the hosts have a balanced side going into the mega event.

    Boston: Former Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar believes India has a "balanced" side for the 2011 World Cup and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men have the "capability" of winning the coveted tournament and breaking the jinx of a host country not lifting the title.

    "The Indian squad has got a terrific blend of experience and youth and it also has got a good balance, good feel about it," Gavaskar said.

    "I think this Indian team has got a terrific chance of breaking the jinx of the host country not winning the World Cup. I believe this team has got the capability of winning the World Cup," Gavaskar said.

    The former skipper, who is in the city on a private visit, said the Indian team has been playing "some very good cricket" over the last year and a half.

    He said Indians should extend their full support to the team and not "discourage" the players by "talking about selections."

    Gavaskar, however, pointed out that the one weakness he sees in the team is in the fielding.

    "There are certain bowlers in the team who are not exactly fleet-footed. That can make a little bit of difference but if they are used shrewdly by the captain. I don't see too much of a problem," he said.

    The 2011 World Cup begins on February 19 and is being hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

    Gavaskar said playing on home turf will work in favour of the men in blue since the 15-member squad would be aware of the local conditions like weather, pitches as well as have the overwhelming support of the public.

    Gavaskar added that while the "pluses (of India playing on home turf) overcome the minuses", the "expectation of the public" could distract the players.

    He said unlike the previous three editions, when Australia was the dominant side and a firm favourite, "the 2011 World Cup is going to be a very open World Cup.

    "There are other teams who can spring a surprise and who are capable of lifting the cup this time around. It is really a format that rewards form on the day of the match. There could be a situation where a good team could just have one of those off days," he said.

    "It will be crucial for a team to maintain the intensity and bring out its best. Whichever team feels better than the other team is going to make the cut," Gavaskar added.