The warm-up matches kicked off on Friday, September 29 ahead of the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup next week. The teams will attempt to fine-tune last bits ahead of the main event, which promises to be a crackerjack given so many quality teams and players are on show. With less than a week remaining for the World Cup, predictions, expectations and hopes have been laid on the table with fans, viewers and former cricketers picking their favourites to win the tournament, a batter or a bowler who will perform the best and so on.
Among several predictions, legendary India batter Sunil Gavaskar's pick has taken many by surprise. According to Gavaskar, the defending champions England are favourites to win the World Cup and replicate Australia's feat of winning consecutive titles. Gavaskar didn't pick any of India, Australia or Pakistan, who are contenders to win the title in their own right.
Speaking to Star Sports, Gavaskar explained his decision saying, "The defending champions, England [are favourites] because of the kind of talent that they have at, at the top of the order, the batting order, they've got two or three world-class all-rounders who can change the game with both bat and ball. They've also got a very good bowling line-up, experienced bowling line-up, so at the moment in my book certainly.”
However, former all-rounder Irfan Pathan, another member of the commentary team for the host broadcaster, expected India to win the tournament saying that the team has ticked all the boxes in the last month or so and not just the main players but the ones on the bench are in form whenever they have gotten their opportunity.
“I'm very excited to see how India performs and I really think they are one of the favourites, for sure because especially last couple of series, like Asia Cup, and the way India played against Australia as well in the home conditions. I think they are ticking all the boxes. They have players who are performing really well but you have a guy like Mohammed Shami, who's not in the part of playing 11 consistently, who's a world-class bowler itself, so it shows the kind of team India has and at the same time the bench strength India has," Pathan said.
India will kick off their final bits of preparation with the first warm-up game against England in Guwahati on Saturday, September 30.