With less than eight months to go for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, former opening batsman Aakash Chopra has declared Team India firm favourites to lift the coveted trophy at the iconic Lord’s next year.
The World Cup starts on May 30 with South Africa taking on hosts England, while the two-time World champions India begin their campaign on June 5 against South Africa at Southampton.
“Well, India start as favourites irrespective of how far the World Cup is at this point of time and I see them at the podium holding the trophy, hopefully. They do have whatever it takes to win the trophy,” Chopra told reporters on the sidelines of the ICC World Cup Trophy Tour in Mumbai.
“This is the team that has a lot of things going in its favour. The bowling is outstanding and you have got some of the finest batsmen. So a lot of things are in India’s favour and hopefully England will be nice and accommodating for us as it has happened in the past the two Champion Trophies – finalists once, winners once. So hopefully in the 2019 World Cup – we will be able to pick up the trophy,” he further added.
During the recently concluded ODI series against the West Indies, Ambati Rayudu was given a chance to bat at the crucial No. 4 slot and the right-hander lived up to the expectations of team management.
He finished the series with 217 runs to his name in four innings with one hundred and a fifty. While Rayudu’s average in the series was 72.33, his strike-rate was over 100 – precisely 101.4. No wonder, Aakash feels Rayudu has done everything possible to seal the number four spot in the team.
“Well, we tried a dozen batsmen at number 4 but now it feels that Ambati has sealed the deal. His boarding pass, in my opinion, is already printed for that flight to England. I see him batting in England at number 4 unless something drastic happens in the meantime,” he remarked.
Taking about skipper Virat Kohli’s request to rest the fast bowlers during the IPL 2019 in view of the World Cup, Chopra said it is up to the BCCI to take a call.
“Virat has already asked for his main bowlers to be rested (during IPL) and BCCI still has to take a call with regards to that and it may not just be for the bowlers, it may also be for batsmen. There will be some amount of work-load management leading towards the World Cup,” he asserted.
Aakash Chopra sees India’s tour of New Zealand as a perfect opportunity for the team to fine tune itself for the World Cup 2019.
“But you do need to tick a few boxes. The more you play the better you get, the more you get to know who is going to be your finisher, who is going to be your third seamer. So, from that vantage point the series of New Zealand is important, but the outcome of that series will have no bearing on what happens in June and July,” said Chopra, who played 10 Tests matches,” he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)