Punter tips In­dia as WC favourite

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

For­mer Aus­tralia cap­tain Ricky Ponting has tipped In­dia and Eng­land as favourites to win the up­com­ing World Cup on cur­rent form but feels that his coun­try also has a chance to de­fend the ti­tle it clinched in 2015. “Ab­so­lutely,” Ponting replied when asked if he thought Aus­tralia could win the World Cup. “In­dia and Eng­land are prob­a­bly the two stand­out teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into that lineup then I think that team looks as strong as any,” the bat­ting le­gend said.

Pak­istan-aus­tralia ODIS in UAE

Aus­tralia have re­fused to any of the ODI series matches in Pak­istan due to se­cu­rity con­cerns and the two teams will now com­pete in the World

Cup prepara­tory five­match rubber in the

UAE. Af­ter much de­lay, the Pak­istan Cricket Board on Sun­day fi­nally an­nounced that the one­day series would be played en­tirely in the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) from March 22 to 31. “The PCB was op­ti­mistic that it will be able to con­vince Cricket Aus­tralia to send its side (to Pak­istan) for some matches,” PCB’S di­rec­tor in­ter­na­tional cricket, Zakir Khan, said. “But we are dis­ap­pointed for the en­thu­si­as­tic and pas­sion­ate cricket fans in Pak­istan who will now have to wait for some more time be­fore they can see the Aus­tralian cricket team live in ac­tion for the first time since 1998.”

Mor­taza con­fi­dent of suc­cess in NZ

Bangladesh skip­per Mashrafe Mor­taza is con­fi­dent his team can break their drought in New Zealand dur­ing the up­com­ing series, even with­out their tal­is­manic all-rounder Shakib-al­hasan. Bangladesh’s only win in New Zealand came in 2015 when they beat Scot­land by six wick­ets in a World Cup group match at Nel­son. The ODI series starts in Napier on Fe­bru­ary 13. “It was al­ready a big chal­lenge. The loss of Shakib made it a big­ger chal­lenge,” Mashrafe told re­porters be­fore leav­ing for New Zealand on Sun­day. “We have to play pos­i­tively,” he said.

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