Virender Sehwag: ‘India favourite to win World Cup’

With the Virat Kohli-led Team India looking solid in batting, and a formidable force in bowling, the two-time World Cup winner, Sehwag, also predicted that it would win its first overseas Test series when it tours Australia later this year.

Virender Sehwag (above) said that India boasts of a perfect combination, in batting and bowling department, a luxury it never had in the Sourav Ganguly era.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

Indian cricket team, led by Virat Kohi, will be the favourite to lift 2019's ODI World Cup, in England, former opener Virender Sehwag said on Friday.

With the Kohli-led Team India looking solid in batting, and a formidable force in bowling, the two-time World Cup winner, Sehwag, also predicted that it would win its first overseas Test series, when it tours Australia, later, in 2018.

“The kind of ODI team we have, we are favourites to win the 2019 World Cup. Don’t you believe it? Absolutely (we are favourites),” Sehwag said, during a promotional event.

The former swashbuckling India opener said that India boasts of a perfect combination, in batting and bowling department, a luxury it never had in the Sourav Ganguly era.

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“This team has the capability to win the Test series outside India, with the kind of bowling and batting we have. We just missed to win the Test series in South Africa, or else we could have created history.”

“In our days, we had Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra, but these four never played together, except in 2003. When we made the final, as either one of them was injured. This team has lot more capability and can deliver in any conditions.”

That Australia may not have the suspended duo of Steve Smith and David Warner, which makes India firm favourites in the Australia series. “It does not matter if they are with the team, or not. Even then, we will win.”

India’s World T20 triumph, under M.S. Dhoni, is one of his best memories. “We won two World Cups. However, we got a lot of messages on that day (2007). We were a young team and a young captain. Nobody was expecting us to win the World Cup.”

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Sehwag revealed that he was the first to inform Ganguly about the infamous Greg Chappell email to the BCCI, during the 2005 Zimbabwe Tour, an event that led to the Indian captain’s ouster.

It was during a match in Zimbabwe that Sehwag had an upset stomach, as he took a break and Sehwag got to see Chappell writing the email to Board, outside the washroom

“It was near the washroom, when I told Chappell about my upset stomach, I saw him writing the email, addressed to the BCCI. I did not get to see the content, but I could reckon it was a very serious matter and informed Ganguly immediately.”

Sehwag thanked Ganguly for converting him into an opener. “The moment I scored a hundred, I was very happy. I hugged Ganguly many times. He was very humble and only captain to have sacrificed his place as an opener, for me, in Tests.”

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The mentor of the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) team has got a masterstroke in buying Chris Gayle, at his base price of ₹2 crore, after he was left unsold, twice, at 2018’s auctions.

The 38-year-old Gayle, who is the leading run-scorer in Twenty20 cricket, lit up the IPL with the first century of season 11, hitting an unbeaten 104, off 63 deliveries.

“I’ve already tweeted it because nobody is a greater entertainer than him. That was a strategy because we had to buy other players also. He would have cost more if he was taken up, in the first phase.”

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“He missed a lot of games (last year) because he had pain in his back. Kohli dropped him also. I was expecting nobody will pick him, he’s of my age. If we pick him, he’s a good guy to do the marketing. He’s fabulous with all the marketing guys, everyone loves Chris Gayle.”

“He was fitting in our group. We bought him for ₹2 crore and if he wins two game, I recover my money. Still more games to go and if he wins two more times, he wins four games. He’s a big asset for KXIP now,” he concluded.