| Brett Lee poses with the World Cup, at Sydney Harbour, on Wednesday, as part of a promotional to mark the 500-day countdown to the 2015 edition of the tournament. (Getty Images) |
Calcutta: Sachin Tendulkar believes defending champions India are favourites to retain the ICC World Cup in 2015 and exuded confidence that the trophy “will remain in the subcontinent”.
With exactly 500 days to go before the first ball is bowled in the 2015 edition on February 14, Tendulkar hoped that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side would successfully defend the title and make India only the third country after West Indies and Australia to win back-to-back titles.
“Along with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also good sides. I am partial towards India and want them to do well. That would be really exciting. It will give so much happiness to the entire nation,” he told the ICC website.
“That is something I would want, along with a billion plus people who will also be expecting the same thing to happen,” added Tendulkar, who along with Pakistan’s Javed Miandad is the only player in the history of the game to play in six World Cups.
Tendulkar retired from ODI cricket in December 2012 as the leading run-getter with 18,426 runs.
India have been drawn in Pool B and will open their campaign against Pakistan in Adelaide on February 15.
India’s other matches in the first round are against South Africa (in Melbourne on February 22), Qualifier 4 (in Perth on February 28), West Indies (in Perth on March 6), Ireland (in Hamilton on March 10) and Zimbabwe (in Auckland on March 14).
Tendulkar, who is also the highest run-getter in the history of ICC Cricket World Cup with 2,278 runs from 45 matches, hoped Indian players would quickly adjust to the conditions in Australia and New Zealand.
“Well I think most of our guys have been to Australia. They know what to expect, (as) they have played there already,” said the 40-year-old.
In the lead up to the World Cup 2015, India will again be in Australia for a four-Test series. This will be followed by a tri-series also featuring England, apart from the hosts.
More than Australia, Tendulkar’s worry was about adjusting to New Zealand conditions.
Recalling India’s World Cup 1992 match against New Zealand, Tendulkar said: “I remember our match in Dunedin, where it was extremely cold and windy. Whenever a batsman hit the ball with the wind, it would travel 10 yards further, but when we had to play against the wind, the ball travelled 10 yards less!
“As there is a tour to New Zealand planned in early 2014, it should give them good exposure to the conditions there,” said Tendulkar.
Four-time world champions Australia will launch their campaign against traditional rivals England in Melbourne on the opening day, March 14, while co-hosts New Zealand will feature in the tournament opener against Sri Lanka in Christchurch.
Among other teams, England have emerged as a top ODI side in the last few years and came very close to winning their first 50-over tournament before losing to India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
They currently sit third on the ICC ODI team rankings table, four ratings points behind Australia. England have played in three World Cup finals (1979, 1987 and 1992), but are yet to win the trophy.
England’s Test and ODI captain Alastair Cook said his side was improving and will try to make it fourth time lucky. “We’ll be working hard in the coming months to ensure we give ourselves the best possible opportunity to go one step further in 2015,” Cook said.
“We have been improving steadily as a one-day side in recent years and are very much looking forward to the challenge of the ICC World Cup 2015.