Ponting backs India & England to lift WC, asks everyone to be wary of Oz
FORMER Australia captain Ricky Ponting has tipped India and England as favourites to win the World Cup on current form, but feels that his country has a chance to defend the title. 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. Smith and Warner were banned for one year by ICC for their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year, and they will become eligible for international cricket again from March 29. “Absolutely,” Ponting was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website cricket.com. au when he was asked if he thought Australia could win “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.” Australia have won just four of their recent 26 ODI contests but Ponting, who was on Friday named as new assistant coach to help out former teammate Justin Langer during the bigticket tournament, 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 44-year-old who is also a three-time World Cup winner. “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 who 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 regarding Australia players’ weakness against spin, Ponting exuded optimism with regards to their current bunch of players, saying, “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.” The day the bans on Smith and Warner expires will also see Australia take on Pakistan in the fourth of their five ODIs, in Dubai. But question marks still hang over the duo’s return to the playing XI, as the two have been recuperating after undergoing elbow surgeries.
Steve Smith (L) and David Warner will return to Australia’s squad for World Cup