Anil Kumble and Kevin Pietersen believe that West Indies will be the fourth semi-finalist in this year’s World Cup in England and Wales. West Indies had to play the World Cup Qualifiers in order to find a place at the ten-nation tournament but have gone ahead with a full-strength squad this time.
The Windies were not in a great position as they failed to qualify directly for the World Cup for the first time. The two-time champions had to play the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe last year and managed to make a cut for the quadrennial event. They even lost to Afghanistan in the finals but as per the rules, the top two teams qualify. However, things are different now as the side has gone ahead with a full-strength squad after the change in the top management. Anil Kumble is of the belief that they might as well be the ‘dark horses' of the tournament.
“I think India, England, Australia (will be in the semi-finals) and then the ‘dark horses’ I think will be West Indies,” he said, reported ICC.
The pitches in England are expected to be flat this time and the tournament will mostly be a high-scoring affair just like the previous series between England and Pakistan as well as the 2013 and 2017 Champions Trophy. Even the legendary spinner was of the belief that it will be a high-scoring tournament.
“Yeah, I think it will be a high scoring World Cup. There will be some games which probably will not be that kind of high scoring games but then the way England pitches are, generally there will be high scoring game,” reckoned the 48-year-old.
Pakistan have generally been a mercurial side who have peaked in major ICC tournaments. However, Kevin Pietersen also opined that it will be the Windies who will trounce the other teams to enter the semi-finals.
“England, India, Australia and the unpredictable team would normally be Pakistan but I am going with the West Indies this time,” he said.
“As long as the weather is fine during the tournament, I think the numbers are gonna be frightening. There are gonna be some big scores,” reiterated the 38-year-old.
New Zealand have now featured in as many as seven semi-finals and even played the finals of the previous edition of the showpiece event. Pietersen felt that they might as well put a great fight this time too.
“I think New Zealand a pretty experienced (side), they have probably done seven semi-finals in the World Cup so New Zealand, I think, will be a very good team. They have always punched above what they can. In big tournaments they certainly turn up and it’s gonna be a challenging one,” he explained.
The former batsman was also asked to pick one player to watch out for at the ten-nation tournament and he went ahead with his compatriot Jason Roy, despite being hesitant to single out one player initially.
“There are so many good players, (if I have to choose) one player...umm..Jason Roy,” Pietersen signed off.
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