Former skipper Mohammad Yousuf has picked Pakistan as favourites to clinch the coveted World Cup crown next year. The stylish right-hander also named India as well as hosts England as the other major contenders for the 50-over title.
Alluding to India and Pakistan's triumphant campaigns in the 2013 and 2017 editions of the Champions Trophy respectively, Yousuf asserted that the experience of winning ODI tournaments in England should help the fortunes of the two Asian giants.
In an interview with PakPassion.net, Yousuf said, "Three teams are genuine contenders in my opinion. The last two Champions Trophy tournaments have been won by India and Pakistan respectively and I believe that both of these teams have the ability to win the World Cup. I think spinners will play a key role and both India and Pakistan have fantastic spin options."
However, he remained unconvinced with India's seam attack. Whilst he exuded high praise on their strong batting lineup, the 43-year old referred to their defeat in the ODI series against the top-ranked England outfit.
Yousuf noted, "India has a wonderful array of batting talent but I think there are some doubts over their bowlers particularly their pace bowlers as was evident in the recent One-Day series against England. Coming to the hosts, I feel that England will have home advantage and they are looking formidable at the moment in One-Day cricket and they will be a force at the World Cup."
Defending champions Australia are currently reeling from the suspensions of Steven Smith and David Warner. Even though both batsmen will be available for selection ahead of the 2019 World Cup, they run the risk of entering the tournament without significant match-practice.
On the other hand, Australia's premier pacers such as Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are in various stages of rehabilitation from injuries. Those developments led Yousuf to opine that the five-time winners are looking like a 'pale shadow' of their former selves.
When asked to pick only one favourite for the World Cup, the elegant batsman did not have any hesitation in going for Pakistan. Placing faith on their menacing bowling attack, he ruminated that the presence of genuine wicket-taking threats would elevate their chances.
Yousuf declared, "I think Pakistan are the favourites and I say that because I feel they have the best bowling attack particularly on flat tracks. When I say best, I mean they have the best-balanced attack and an attack which has the ability to take wickets regularly and not let the opposition settle. On the sort of flat tracks that will be available in England at that time, the team with the best bowling attack will succeed and I believe that bowling attack belongs to Pakistan."Published 07 Aug 2018, 20:29 IST