ICC World Cup trophy unveiled in Chennai

Hemang Badani, who unveiled the World Cup trophy, believes that India - which is currently touring Australia - is a strong favourite to win the tournament for the third time in history.

Former Indian cricketer Hemang Bhadani with the ICC World Cup in Chennai.   -  K.Pichumani

The Cricket World Cup trophy, which began its journey from the International Cricket Council (ICC) headquarters in Dubai on August 27, arrived in Chennai on Tuesday.

Former India cricketer Hemang Badani, who unveiled the trophy, believes that India is a strong favourite to win the quadrennial mega-event.

 

"We do stand a very good chance with the side we've got at the moment. We've got a couple of lovely openers and a good bunch of guys in the middle," Badani said.

"And also, for once, we've got a good bowling side. Over the years, if you go back and see, the department that we have struggled in, to me, primarily is the bowling. In recent times, be it Tests or ODIs, we've been bundling sides out which wasn't the case earlier. So, I do fancy our chances. England is a big favourite too, considering how they have been performing, especially at home," he added.

New format, several firsts

The 2019 edition of World Cup will see only ten nations participating, down from fourteen in the last edition. There will also be a change in the format. Each team will play the other nine teams with the top four teams progressing to the knockout stages.

This will be the first World Cup where not all Test playing nations will feature. Incidentally, it will also be the first time no associate nation will take part.

Badani, who is of the opinion that the tournament should be globalised, said, "Yes, there are sides that probably don't compete as much as the other sides do. But if you go back in time and look at sides who had also started off at the same point where they weren't the best, but they have gone on to do well and play better cricket.

"At one point in time, India wasn't the best! 1975, or take 1979, we weren't the best. So, if we weren't given a chance at that point in time, we would not even be playing now. So, I'm pretty open to the idea of having more teams playing the World Cup."

Badani, who has featured in 4 Tests and 40 ODIs for India, still remembers the day he had scored his only century at Pune in 2001 against one of the strongest Australian sides.

Australia a strong contender

When asked about the current Australian team, he said, "They probably are the weakest. If you go back and see the stats of the batsmen, they don't have any formidable batsman. Forget about Test cricket, they don't have anyone who's got an average of 50 even in first-class cricket."

But the former all-rounder did heap praise on it's bowling department saying, "They still have a very good bowling side - Starc, Cummins, Lyon, Hazlewood. Probably it is one of the best Aussie attacks. Lyon, again, is brilliant with the ball. But the batting leaves a lot to be desired. They need guys to stand up, they need guys who have the experience, they need guys who can show character. They surely miss a Warner, they surely miss a Steve Smith."

The trophy, which will travel to 21 countries across five continents, will next go to New Zealand followed by Australia. Its international tour ends in England and Wales on February 19, from when it will begin a 100-day domestic Trophy Tour.

The 12th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup is slated to start from May 30, 2019.