Former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels that apart from favourites (India, England and Australia), Pakistan are strong contenders to make it to the semi-finals of the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 that starts on 30 May.
Ganguly backed his argument citing Pakistan’s impressive track record in major ICC events hosted in England. Ganguly also pointed out the recent performances by the men in green in the ongoing bilateral ODI series versus England and said that they have the firepower to chase down big totals.
In the second one-day international (ODI), Pakistan almost chased down a total of 374 and in the third ODI posted a mammoth 358/9 batting first.
“Pakistan’s record in world tournaments in England is remarkable. They won the Champions Trophy two years ago, they won the 2009 World T20 in England. Pakistan always plays well in England,” Ganguly told PTI on the sidelines of a promotional programme.
“You see the last game in England. England got 374 and Pakistan just lost by 12 runs. They also beat England in England in Test matches there because of their bowling lineup,” he added.
However, the Delhi Capitals (DC) advisor does not believe India have much to worry about against Pakistan.
“I don’t believe in records. Both of them will have to play well on that particular day. India will be a very good side. They will be very hard to beat. A team which has the likes of Kohli, Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan can’t be weak,” he explained.
When asked to compare the current generation team to that of 2003 World Cup, Ganguly said, “Both the teams are of different generations. We played the final in 2003. I hope they play the final and win it.”
“Indian cricket is so strong. And we have been strong for the last 25-30 years. Every world competition that we play, we will have a chance. This team has as much chance as we had in 2003,” he said.
Meanwhile, addressing concerns surrounding Kohli’s captaincy after a poor show with Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019, Ganguly maintained that the IPL captaincy will not have an effect on Kohli as he has a good record captaining India.
“Don’t compare Virat Kohli’s IPL captaincy record with that of India. His captaincy records for India is very good actually. He’s got him in his team as the vice-captain. Dhoni is there. So he’s well supported,” he said.
Like many, Ganguly backed Hardik Pandya to play a key role in India’s World Cup campaign. “Hardik Pandya will play a key role. He is in tremendous form. He will be very, very important for India’s chances,” he added.
There will be high expectations from India as they start their World Campaign against South Africa on May 30. But he feels that it’s a good thing that India is under pressure.
“So it’s good that India is under pressure, every other team in the World Cup will be under pressure. You don’t want to turn up like a Nepal or an Ireland where the entire world thinks that you’re not going to win,” he said.
“You rather turn up like an India or an Australia or an England where everybody says this team is going to win the World Cup. So Virat, probably being the best player of the world at the moment, is as much under pressure as anybody else and that will be good for him because he will turn up, work hard, he will be pumped and get India going,” he concluded.
(With inputs from PTI)