The World Cup is considered as the pinnacle of ODI cricket and teams from around the world work hard to get a proper combination in place. The 2019 edition of the mega event starts on May 30 with the match between hosts England and South Africa at the Kennington Oval in London. The experts are busy predicting the semi-finalists and the probable champions even though it is one of the most difficult tasks under the sun.
The cricketer-turned-politician, Gautam Gambhir, who recently won the Lok Sabha election on the BJP’s ticket by a huge margin, has come up with yet another observation on the upcoming World Cup. The 37-year-old has picked his semi-finalists for the tournament and has predicted that Afghanistan are unlikely to last the distance in the tournament.
Virat is the key
Gambhir, who was the member of two Indian squads that won the world title in T20 and ODIs in 2007 and 2011, respectively, said for Team India to win their third World Cup in ODIs, captain Virat Kohli’s intensity will be the key. Kohli is not just the best batsman in this Indian team but also across the whole of the tournament. For the Men in Blue to rise through and end up with the title his batting and the charge he carries will determine a lot of things.
“I am not sure if Madame Tussauds, London has a statue of Virat Kohli. The one in New Delhi has him. It’s a brilliant job but it misses Virat’s intensity; the energy in his pose is not there. India are one of my four semi-finalists. But for that to happen, Virat’s intensity is key,” Gautam Gambhir wrote in his column for Times of India.
The other three teams that Gambhir picked as the probable semi-finalists are defending champions Australia, hosts England and 2015 finalists New Zealand. Five-time champions Australia though had a lean phase in 2018, they have come back strongly this year and Gambhir has praised coach Justin Langer’s man management skills for boosting the Kangaroos’ chances. He had backed Langer earlier as well for his cooperation with him when he went to Australia to get some good practice.
England are being considered among the top favourites to win the trophy this year because of their great form and home advantages while New Zealand remain the dark horses every time they participate in a World Cup. In 2015, they went on to win all their matches until they lost the final to Australia.
On Afghanistan who will be playing their second World Cup this year, Gambhir referred to them as “babies” but used some kind words to say that cricket gives identity, purpose and pride to the newcomers and their mere presence will give hope to the entire region.