Ravi Shastri picks his favourites for 2019 World Cup
What's the story?
India's head coach Ravi Shastri believes that 'three or four teams' are strong candidates to win the 2019 edition of the World Cup. Aside from backing his own troops, the erstwhile all-rounder has also picked hosts England as one of the leading contenders for lifting the coveted trophy.
In an interview with former England skipper Michael Vaughan for the Daily Telegraph, Shastri affirmed, "There will be three or four teams that can do it and it is how you start. If we gain momentum early then India are very dangerous because we have got a lot of crowd support and things backing us. We have the team that can go the distance and not for one minute will I not be thinking in that fashion. The players believe that but it is about how you handle that pressure, stay composed and execute your plans."
When asked if England can win the World Cup, the 56-year-old thundered, "Absolutely. This is the best England team I have seen. They have been focussed in picking players who are good in that format of the game and will take their chances from ball one to dictate terms to the opposition. You also have balance. We saw England last year in England and they had depth in batting and a lot of players who are multi-faceted. They have five or six guys who can be called upon at any time to bowl and that is what you want."
Although they have been runners-up on three occasions, England are yet to win the ODI World Cup. In fact, they are the only top team without a single ICC trophy in the 50-over format.
Aside from World Cup winners Australia, West Indies, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the likes of South Africa and New Zealand have won the ICC Champions Trophy (previously ICC KnockOut Tournament).
The heart of the matter
Since their group-stage exit in the 2015 World Cup, England have completely revamped their white-ball cricket. Packing their lineup with fearsome hitters all the way through, they also possess quite a few world-class all-rounders capable of lending enormous depth to the ODI team.
On the other hand, India have a balanced lineup which can mount a strong challenge for the World Cup. The two-time champions have a formidable top three as well as a versatile bowling attack capable of picking wickets on a regular basis.
From the completion of the 2015 World Cup until thus far, England and India are the only teams to possess a win-loss ratio of more than two in ODIs. While the former have won 51 matches and lost just 21, the latter have won 50 matches and lost only 23 in this time period.
India will take on New Zealand in a five-match ODI series, starting at Napier on the 23rd. Meanwhile, England's next ODI assignment is the five-match series against West Indies in the Caribbean during February-March.