Former India coach Greg Chappell said the defending champions cannot be written off as one of the strong contenders for the ICC Cricket World Cup despite a poor outing Down Under.
“You can never underestimate India. They have not had a great summer in Australia so far, but come to the World Cup, I think they will probably be a different proposition,” said former captain Chappell in an interview to Cricket Australia.
India lost the four-Test series 0-2 against Australia and then went winless in the ODI tri-series, also featuring England.
They notched up their first win on Australian soil yesterday against minnows Afghanistan in a World Cup warm-up encounter at Adelaide, venue of their opening Cup clash on February 15 against fierce rivals Pakistan.
Chappell, who quit as India coach post the Rahul Dravid-led squad’s disastrous outing in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, said he was ‘biased’ towards naming hosts Australia as the favourites for lifting the Cup.
“I am biased, I feel Australia are favourites. They have a good chance in the World Cup. Australia will be well prepared, probably as well prepared as anyone else,” said the 66-year-old Aussie, who played in the inaugural World Cup in 1975 in England.
Chappell, currently the National Talent Manager for CA and based at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane, also added South Africa, Pakistan, Cup co-hosts New Zealand and surprisingly the under-performing West Indies as the teams who can lift the Cup, other than Australia and India.
“South Africa will be pretty well prepared, will be disciplined and will do what needs to be done and has the attacks for the conditions. New Zealand cannot be underrated. They are putting a good team together. Playing in their own backyard it will give them a little bit of home advantage over some of the teams,” said Chappell, who amassed 7110 runs in 87 Tests at over 53 per innings.
“Pakistan, even the West Indies, I don’t think you can write off in these conditions because they have good pace bowling,” said the former middle-order batsman who averaged over 40 from 74 ODIs after aggregating 2331 runs.
Chappell said he was looking forward to the World Cup and said from the semi finals onwards he expected good teams in the tournament to advance.
“You got to play well, got to have a little bit of luck. The four teams that get to the semi finals will be good teams. From semi finals you know they are all good teams that have been playing well. From then on whoever plays well on that day should go through,” he said.
Chappell also felt that the advent of Twenty-over cricket has had a huge impact on the game, including the 50-over game â€“ the format in which the Cup will be fought for.
“Twenty over cricket has had a huge impact on the game. It is having a huge impact on the 50 over cricket as well. The grounds have not been big enough for some of these guys who hit the ball a long way and hard,” he said.