New Delhi: Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Monday said India can match title contenders Australia and South Africa and advised the defending champions to take it "step by step" in the ongoing ICC World Cup.
India kicked off their title defence in style, beating Pakistan by 76 runs on Sunday to maintain their clean state in World Cup against the arch-rivals.
"India needs to go step-by-step and don't think about just the quarters but take it match by match.
"We can match the likes of Australia, South Africa. We can play even better then the way we played Pakistan. Our batting can do even better and our bowling needs to continue same way. The series in Australia will help us... playing against the top sides makes your game better," Tendulkar told 'Headlines Today'.
Tendulkar backed India opener Rohit Sharma to perform after his failure in their win against Pakistan and said opening will be the key for the Men in Blue in their next game against South Africa.
Sharma managed just 15 runs in India's 76-run win over the arch-rivals at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday, but Tendulkar urged not to put pressure on the batsman.
"Don't put pressure on Rohit, should not put doubt in a player's mind. Rohit doesn't need to worry," Tendulkar said.
India next play South Africa and looking ahead to the game, Tendulkar stressed on the importance of getting a good start.
"Opening will be critical against South Africa, running between wicket has to be good against South Africa as they are a terrific fielding side, taking singles will be tougher," Tendulkar told 'Headlines Today'.
Tendulkar felt India will need to respect South Africa's pace spearhead Dale Steyn.
"You can't pre-decide how to play Steyn, he could also have a bad day, you have to decide in the moment but you have to respect Dale Steyn, you need to be watchful upfront but take your opportunities."
He said he would continue with the same batting line-up.
"I would stick to the same batting order, don't chop-and-change too much. Rahane can come up if we lose early wickets as Raina is more dangerous post-20 overs. Rahane can play early overs better," Tendulkar said.