Former India wicketkeeper Chandrakant Pandit has backed Kedar Jadhav to play a crucial role in the national team’s campaign at the World Cup, beginning in the UK on May 30.

Pandit has tracked Jadhav’s progress since his younger days, having coached the Maharashtra U-23 side.

“He (Jadhav) definitely has a lot of talent and has proved in the last couple of seasons that he is a utility player. The best part is that Virat Kohli has used him for his all-round ability and not only for batting. You think he is a part-time bowler, but he has been successful,” said Pandit, who has coached Vidarbha to both the Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup titles in the last two seasons.

Pandit said he always knew that Jadhav had it in him to play at the highest level. “The good thing is that he has shown a cool temperament. In the middle-order he has the ability to win the game. A player like him would be ideal for the fifth or sixth position.

“I am sure that they have a good option if they think about Kedar. I have seen him from the beginning and I always found that he was talented. I am happy to see that he has shown tremendous progress, coming at this level and proving himself, he has done justice to his talent.”

Pandit said India are one of the favourites to win the World Cup. “After playing the Indian Premier League and other series, it’s a different ball game considering the pressure of the World Cup. I think, considering the team combination and selection, this is one of the best team which I could see going on this tour,” he said.

India, who had their first training session at the Oval on Thursday, begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5 at Southampton.

Pandit, a wicketkeeper himself, also said that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s presence behind the stumps will be of big help to the bowlers.

“I’m sure he (Dhoni) is going to provide confidence to India’s young players who are going to bowl in this World Cup under pressure. He is also going to be a dangerous player in the slog overs,” said Pandit.