Yuvraj Singh feels that England and India are the top two contenders for the World Cup title, this time around.
The India international, who played a pivotal role in guiding the team to its World Cup win in 2011, was quick to add that Australia is not to be dismissed, especially with the return of Steve Smith and David Warner to the side.
“My first two teams are England and India. Obviously, with Warner and Smith coming back, Australia will be in contention. West Indies also looked a very power-packed side. You can’t say much at this stage. I think it would be India and England first, third would be Australia. Fourth I don’t know. I will tell you later…,” Singh said during an event organised by MoneyGram here on Friday.
Faith in track record
This time, each team will play 10 games in the league stage, and the southpaw admits that it will be a ‘tougher format’ than the previous editions.
“In the previous World Cups, we played the group matches and the knock-out. Just to think that you have to play nine games, get points and qualify for the knock out, adds to the pressure. It’s going to be the case for all teams. I think it’s going to be tough to handle the mental pressure in this format,” the 37-year-old said.
The Indian team has had a successful run in England -- it won the Champions Trophy in 2013 and reached the final in 2017 -- but Singh says, all that wouldn’t matter much.
“India has done well in England, comparatively well. So, definitely we will have that confidence. Two years ago, we played the Champions Trophy there and I think the wickets will be really good for the World Cup. There will be high scoring games and players are going to be tested, so preparation will be important. It’s how you deal with the crunch situations,” said the seasoned campaigner.
Singh feels the good form of top Indian players gives the team an advantage.
“In 50 overs you have a lot of time (to get) set and start going, you can't really assess 20-overs form for 50-overs. MS is in good form, Rohit is hitting ball well so are Virat and Shikhar. If you look at 90 per cent of the guys, they are in good form,” he pointed out.
On the No.4 debate
“All I can say is that No 4 is a very important position and I am sure they (selectors) have selected the team thinking about the whole competition. We have to find who is batting at No 4, I am sure there are a couple of options, we just have to wait and watch,” Singh said.
The selectors' decision to exclude Ambati Rayudu and go with Vijay Shankar sparked debates and discussions over who deserves the No.4 spot in the order.
“The thing for me is that when you go back, you need experience for whatever number you are batting. All five positions are very important. The conditions are going to be different, so I think it’s how you manage yourself under pressure. You will be put under pressure because the best teams in the world are playing. How the guys handle pressure in crunch situations is actually going to show the character of the team,"Singh pointed out.
India One-Day performances over the last 2-3 years have been good, but with the conditions changing, is there something the batsmen need to work on?
“It’s too early. I am sure they have picked the team (having addressed) all the concerns. From T20s to 50 overs, its a complete different ball game. You have to assess those things. Once the tournament starts, you play two-three games and then you see what your best combination is. We have a lot of talent, I am sure we will figure out the right way to go, deeper into the tournament,” he said.