Team India in action© AFP
While India reigned supreme at the Premadasa on Sunday, humbling defending champions Sri Lanka by 10 wickets to lift their 8th Asia Cup, former international cricketer Atul Wassan said the ‘Men in Blue’ are not the “hot favourites” going into the ODI World Cup next month. The 50-over showpiece, to be hosted in India this year, will get underway in less than a couple of weeks from now. Weighing in on India’s chances to claim their third world crown after 2013 when a certain MS Dhoni led his boys to glory, Wassan said he believed that much of the team’s prospects in the tournament would depend on the nature of the surfaces they play on and whether they build on their success in the Asia Cup.
“We are ready for the World Cup. The Indian fans believe that they are the hot favourites to lift the trophy this year. However, if our team goes into the tournament as the favourite and suffers an early exit, the fans will be left heartbroken as they have been over the last 13 years. Hence, I believe it is best to temper our expectations while being cautiously optimistic about our chances. I think we are not the hot favourites. Much of our chances in the tournament would depend on how we go from here (Asia Cup success) and the kind of pitches we play on,” the former India speedster told ANI.
He added that he was in agreement with head coach Rahul Dravid’s tactic of employing new ball bowlers, who are best suited to red-ball or Test format, in 50-over cricket as they would extract more movement and swing from the red cherry in the early overs.
“I would personally endorse Rahul Dravid’s thinking that bowlers, mostly suited to the Test format, will also do well in ODIs as the new ball swings and seams in the early overs and a team needs to go in with attacking bowlers who can get early breakthroughs. You can’t have attacking bowlers in ODIs operating on defensive lines and lengths and trying to save runs. It’s wickets that win you matches,” the former India opening bowler added.
Hailing Team India’s dominating win in the Asia Cup final on Sunday, Wassan said the team does look settled ahead of the showpiece event, with key players back from injuries and on song.
“Delighted as I am at India winning the Asia Cup after 5 years, I believe that this victory is only the beginning. It’s the beginning of a process that can take us to more glories down the road. Everyone is looking forward to India going well in the World Cup and our team does look balanced and settled,” Wassan signed off saying.
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