India are favourites to win World Cup: Zaheer Abbas

By Omar Khalid, IANS
Friday, February 18, 2011

KARACHI - Former Pakistan cricket captain Zaheer Abbas believes co-host India has the best chance to win the World Cup.

The legendary batsman told ‘Life Illustrated’ in an interview that Indias stability makes it the hot favourite.

I believe that there are around four to five teams with genuine credentials of winning the World Cup, said Zaheer.

But the hot favourite, at the moment, is India. Most of the World Cup matches will be played in India. At home India are too good. Their strength comes from stability. It has just the right combination of youth and experience. Captain M.S. Dhoni has been doing a great job. He is lucky to have the services of cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, he stressed.

Zaheer also believes that any team taking Australia, the defending champions, lightly will do so at its own peril.

Australia are certainly a side that cannot be taken lightly. It has won the last three World Cups and I wont be surprised if it defends the title in Mumbai on April 2, said Zaheer.

Zaheer is of the view that South Africa, England and co-hosts Sri Lanka will also go into the tournament, which begins Saturday, with realistic chances of winning the title.

Zaheer believes that 1992 champion Pakistan lags a bit behind the top five contenders.

Pakistans pace attack seems really vulnerable. There is a question mark over Shoaib Akhtars fitness while Sohail Tanvir was dropped at the last minute and was replaced by the inexperienced Junaid Khan, he said.

That leaves Pakistan with limited options and that could hurt them in a long and exhaustive event like the World Cup, he added.

Zaheer has predicted that the bat will dominate th ball in World Cup 2011.

It will be a batsmans World Cup because playing conditions in all three host nations generally favour batters, he said.

Zaheer is expecting Indias master blaster Sachin Tendulkar to score a lot of runs at this World Cup.

I would tip that Sachin Tendulkar will score a lot of runs. For Pakistan, Misbah-ul-Haq will be the key as he is in very good form. He likes to stay at the wicket, and thats really important. Umar Akmal has the capability of playing a valuable cameo every now and then.

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