‘Punter’ Ponting tips In­dia, Eng­land to win

Mid Day - - Sport -

MEL­BOURNE: 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.

Ponting said with the im­pend­ing re­turn of sus­pended bats­men Steve Smith and David Warner, Aus­tralia can win the ODI show­piece, which be­gins on May 30 in Eng­land. “Ab­so­lutely,” Ponting said.

Two stand­out teams

“In­dia and Eng­land are prob­a­bly the two stand­out teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into that line-up then I think that team looks as strong as any,” the bat­ting le­gend was quoted as say­ing by Cricket Aus­tralia of­fi­cial web­site cricket.com.au.

Aus­tralia have won just four of their most re­cent 26 ODI con­tests but Ponting, who was on Fri­day named as new as­sis­tant coach, said the team will be a con­tender for the ti­tle yet again.

“I am not just say­ing that be­cause I am one of the coaches, I ac­tu­ally said it when I was not around the group. Con­di­tions in Eng­land will suit our style of play. I think Aus­tralia will be the one of the main con­tenders for sure,” said the three­time World Cup win­ner.

Warner, Smith will boost Oz

Smith and Warner were banned for one year by the ICC for their in­volve­ment in the in­fa­mous ball-tem­per­ing scan­dal in South Africa last year and they will be­come el­i­gi­ble for in­ter­na­tional cricket again from March 29.

“With the in­clu­sion of two of the best one-day play­ers in the world who have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence, all of a sud­den the team starts look­ing a whole lot bet­ter. You will have guys that will han­dle a lot of pres­sure sit­u­a­tions bet­ter be­cause they have done it all be­fore,” Ponting said about Smith and Warner.

Talk­ing about the con­cerns of Aus­tralian play­ers’ weak­ness against spin, Ponting said, “Look­ing at our line-up now, there are po­ten­tially a few bet­ter play­ers of spin in the mid­dle or­der than what we had last year.

“The thing about English con­di­tions is the wick­ets should not spin too much through­out the World Cup.”

Ricky Ponting, a three-time World Cup win­ner for Aus­tralia

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