Brian Lara has stated that England and India will definitely make it to the semi-finals of the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales. The former West Indies batsman also went on to say that Rishabh Pant is not experienced enough to take up the number four slot at the marquee event.
India and England have been the most successful teams in ODI cricket in last one year. The Virat Kohli led team finished with 14 wins in 20 matches, whereas the England have with 17 victories in 24 games. India have the best win percentage of 75, followed by the Eoin Morgan-led England with 73.91 percent.
In 2019, India started with a bang in New Zealand, winning the series 2-1 but floundered at home against Australia, losing the five-match series by 3-2. England, on the other hand, managed to draw the series against West Indies 2-2. However, West Indies’ cricket legend Brian Lara believes that both the teams will be the favourites at the World Cup and they will at least make it to the knockout stages.
“Normally, I'd like to make my choices after watching all teams play their first one or two games. But since you're asking, well, England? Normally, I'd never risk backing them because they've never failed to lose that one important game (laughs). But this team looks good. So, them and India - two teams I believe will definitely be in the semifinals," he said, reported TNN.
Can't say the same about the rest of the teams. West Indies will have to play some consistent cricket. We've shown that we can beat England or India. We can beat any team on our day. But then we lose against a Bangladesh or an Afghanistan, and we let it all go away. So, that's what West Indies have to avoid. I would love to see them get to the semifinals,” he added.
Rishabh Pant, surprisingly, has done phenomenally well in Tests since his debut in testing English conditions last year. But he has underperformed in T20s, and ODIs has been a different story altogether as he has only played five matches so far. He batted in two innings against West Indies in his debut series, and was dropped thereafter. He was once again slotted in the side for the final two ODIs against Australia, which was India’s final assignment before the World Cu, but Pant failed to impress. Many predicted him to make it to the 15-man squad for the quadrennial event after, but wasn't picked.
Lara heaped praise on the 21 year old, but also cautioned against his rash shots by recalling Delhi Capitals’ infamous defeat against Kings XI Punjab on April 1, where they slipped from 144 for three to 152 all-out.
“I think he's a good player, very aggressive player. He is someone who can change the course of the game within a very short period of time. But in saying that, the liability he carries needs to be looked at too. He can put the team in a kind of a situation in the blink of an eye. That game where Delhi Capitals folded up and lost seven or eight wickets when it was around less than a run a ball required. That dismissal (of Pant) was worrying. I think India needed more experience at that (number four) position.” expressed the 49-year-old.
“It's good that he's carefree, he's got the shots. But sometimes, you need to have a responsible head on the shoulders, too. I'm sure he'll learn. It's good to see how these youngsters are and have great passion for shots and everything but sometimes, level-headedness is what matters. Much was said about Pant but I'm surprised nobody mentioned Prithvi Shaw's name for the World Cup,” he added.
The 19-year-old Prithvi Shaw made his Test debut against the West Indies in October last year. He scored an impressive century in his first innings, followed by 70 and an unbeaten 33 in next two. Even in DC’s encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders on March 30, he played a fiery knock but missed out on his century by a run. Lara, who is the only batsman to score 400 in a single innings in international cricket, believes that the young Delhi batsman has a fantastic future.
“Yeah, I saw his 100 (Test debut) against us and it was amazing. I saw his 99 too, in the IPL, which was flashy. But the thing is, if you get to 99 and your team is cruising, get a 100. These little things, you know, you hope that he learns. But that aside, he's an amazing, amazing talent and has a huge future in front of him,” asserted the former Trinidadian legend.
Jasprit Bumrah started off his journey in competitive cricket with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, but has come a long way eveolved as India’s spearhead in all three formats since then. The Gujarat pacer averages a little over 20 with the ball in all formats, and has taken 185 international wickets in just 101 matches. Lara laid out his admiration for the bowler.
“Yes, I've been watching him. He seems to a knowledgeable young fellow. The way he bowls, what he tries to do, the deliveries he has - they all convey as if he always carries a perspective of how he wants to go about. We're talking about a guy who's consistently bowling 140-plus and at all times, comes across as someone who knows what he's doing. Trying to set batsmen up,” he reckoned.
India skipper Virat Kohli has already notched up 66 centuries in international cricket thus far, and has years of cricket left in him. The southpaw lauded the number one ranked batsman for his consistent performances.
“Oh, he's already there. Right up there with the best. He's a run machine. I mean, you look as his numbers. They're unbelievable. And the outlook he brings to the game. By the time he's done, we can only imagine where he'll be. For a guy who spends significant amount of time getting himself ready in terms of fitness and discipline, it's phenomenal,” he signed off.
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