World Cup 2019: India starts favourite, says Aakash Chopra

India’s “bowling is outstanding and you have got some of the finest batsmen,” notes Aakash Chopra, the former India opening batsman.

Aakash Chopra: "Hopefully, we will be able to pick up the World Cup." Photo: Shayan Acharya

India will start as a favourite for 2019 World Cup, former opening batsman Aakash Chopra has declared.

“This team has a lot of things going in its favour. The bowling is outstanding and you have got some of the finest batsmen. So a lot of things are in India’s favour and hopefully England will be nice and accommodating for us as it has happened in the past — the two Champions Trophies (finalist in 2017 and winner in 2013), so hopefully we will be able to pick up the World Cup,” Chopra, who has featured in 10 Tests for India, said.

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Chopra was speaking on the sidelines of the World Cup Trophy Tour Driven By Nissan Kicks on Saturday. The Trophy Tour will visit nine Indian cities in the next 23 days.

‘Buffet laid’

With India having made a few changes to the playing XI in the recent One-Day International series against Windies, the core team for ICC’s showpiece event hasn’t seemed final. But Chopra feels “the buffet is already laid, it’s about the garnish now.”

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He said, “We tried a dozen batsman at [the No. 4 spot] but now it feels that Ambati [Rayudu] has sealed the deal. His boarding pass in my opinion is already printed for that flight to England. At No. 4, I see him batting in England (at the World Cup) unless something drastic happens in the meantime, which I don’t think will happen.”

He added: “With Ambati already at No. 4, there’s not many place up for grabs. And this shows, that the team is settled.”

‘Need to tick a few boxes’

Chopra noted, however, that current overseas engagements — India tour of Australia and the India A tour of New Zealand — does not give the team any advantage in terms of preparation. “You do need to tick a few boxes and the more you play the better you get. You get to know who is going to be your finisher, who is going to be your third seamer. So, from that vantage point, the series of New Zealand is important, but the outcome of that series will have no bearing on what happens in June and July (in the World Cup),” Chopra said.

Big blow: India's Prithvi Shaw rolled his ankle in a practice match in Australia, and is ruled out of the first Test. Photo: AFP

 

Before the World Cup, which begins on May 30, Indian players will be busy playing the Indian Premier League (IPL). Will that have an impact on the players? “Virat [Kohli] has already asked for his main bowlers to be rested [for IPL] and BCCI still has to take a call with regards to that and it may not just be for bowlers, it may also be for batsmen. There will be some amount of work-load management, working towards the World Cup, so let’s wait and watch instead of jumping the gun,” Chopra said.

‘Unfortunate’

Although discussing in the main the World Cup, Chopra also reserved comments on Prithvi Shaw, the young Indian batting prodigy. The 19-year-old had rolled his ankle during a practice game in Australia on Friday, and was ruled out of the first Test. “All of us were looking forward to seeing him bat. But he is just 19 and has the world in front of him. It is unfortunate that he will not play the first Test match. In my opinion, he might not even play the second Test because ligament tears can get tricky with regards to rehab and coming back to playing,” he said.

“But he will get more opportunities. Now, it is about India finding another opener. Now that [Murali] Vijay has scored a century, it should be him and K. L. Rahul opening [for the first Test]. One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity,” he said.