Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir has bluntly stated that Australia are favourites to reach the ICC World Cup final, with India and England as joint second favourites. It was Gambhir's heroics in the 2011 final against Sri Lanka that helped India clinch their second World Cup, 28 years after 1983.
The former cricketer also believes that the upcoming quadrennial tournament will be fierce as there is some cut-throat competition which millions will witness in England and Wales.
Defending champions Australia has taken the cricketing world by storm this year as while Steve Smith and David Warner were serving their bans at the time, the Aussies won their first ODI series in India after 10 years, defeated Pakistan in UAE through a clean sweep and now with the former captains back in the side after an explosive show in the IPL and warm-up matches, Australia are a team to look out for this summer.
While Gambhir picks Australia to reach the finals, the former cricketer believes the other final spot will be between India and England.
“Australia is my first favourite. They should definitely play the final and their opposition in the final will be between two of my joint second-favourite teams, England and India,” Gambhir told The Times of India.
Coming onto how India will square up against the giants of the cricketing world, Gambhir feels that skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma need to score 'heavily' while star pacer Jasprit Bumrah will be the X-factor for the Men in Blue in the upcoming tournament.
“As far as batting is concerned, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will have to score heavily. In the bowling, Jasprit Bumrah will be the X-factor,” added Gambhir.
On England being joint favourites along with India, Gambhir perceives that England are a force to reckon with as they have a balanced side and are blessed with all-rounders such as Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali.
"Not because England are playing at home. Of late they are an improved side, having quality cricketers in almost all the positions. They are balanced. With Jofra Archer, England will be a force to reckon with. They are blessed with four genuine all-rounders, of which mentions should be made of Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali,” Gautam Gambhir added.
The 2019 ICC World Cup commences on May 30 with the opener being between hosts England and South Africa. India will open their campaign against Faf du Plessis' side as well on June 5.