Alastair Cook backs England to lift 2019 ICC World Cup on home soil

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Former England opener Alastair Cook (l).

Former opener Alastair Cook believes hosts England are the favourites for the 2019 ICC World Cup and is backing Eoin Morgan and his men to win the grand prize in front of home fans this summer.

Cook, who was recently knighted for his services, feels that England have learned their lesson from their 2017 Champions Trophy semi-final defeat on home soil to eventual champions Pakistan.

“England have an outstanding chance,” Cook was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

“This is first time going into a World Cup England have such a settled squad. Everything looks great from the outside, they have every option covered.”

“They had that blip in the Champions Trophy, where they lost in the semi-final to Pakistan when they were favourites, but you need those lows to be able to grow as a side.”

Morgan and his men are ranked No1 in the ODI format.

Morgan and his men are ranked No1 in the ODI format.

No1 ranked England are yet to win a 50-over World Cup title and Cook is confident that the drought will finally end on July 14 when the final is held at Lord’s.

“They are favourites. This is a great opportunity for Eoin (Morgan) and the guys to play some fantastic cricket,” the 34-year-old said.

“There are match winners throughout the squad, there are batsmen that can win games on their own, and over the last six or eight months the bowling has really come on. I think they are going to win it.”

Hosts England will open their 2019 World Cup campaign on May 30 when they take on South Africa in the tournament opener at the Oval in London.

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Mickey Arthur admits concern over Pakistan's lack of power-hitters in ODI format

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Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has admitted concern over the team’s lack of power-hitters following their comprehensive ODI series loss at the hands of Australia in the UAE.

Pakistan were swept aside by the Aussies in the five-match series as they succumbed to a 5-0 ODI whitewash for only the fourth time in their history. While several senior players were handed a rest, Pakistan’s inability to force the scoring rate was evident across the series with the team struggling to breach the 300-run mark.

“That’s (lack of big hitters) one of our areas of concern,” Arthur was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz upon the team’s return to Lahore.

“We have to make sure that we get our guys to bat in those positions as best as they can. That’s the reason we used Faheem Ashraf in two games. He has done hell of a work in that regard and we wanted to give him more batting time.

“We have worked really hard with Imad Wasim in that role. Hasan (Ali) can hit the ball long distances. Shadab (Khan) has worked extremely hard on that aspect of his game. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have worked consistently on their power-hitting. But, it is an area that is a worry and we have to work extremely hard to rectify it.”

Pakistan were second best in all aspects against the Aussies.

Pakistan were second best in all aspects against the Aussies.

One of the men Pakistan were looking to solve their power-hitting woes was Umar Akmal with the right-handed batsman handed a recall to the ODI squad after more than two years.

However, Akmal faded away after a promising 48 in the first ODI and was in the news for the wrong reasons after being officially reprimanded for a late night out ahead of the final clash at Dubai.

“Umar Akmal’s attitude through the tour was very good. He worked exceptionally hard, trained hard, and tried very hard to impress in all areas. He’ll be disappointed that he didn’t get a big innings,” explained Arthur.

Pakistan’s 2019 ICC World Cup sojourn will begin on April 23 when they depart for England. The Men in Green are slated to take on hosts England in a five-match ODI series along with a solitary T20 clash before heading into the World Cup warm-up matches.

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Tom Blundell called up as New Zealand name final 15-man squad for 2019 ICC World Cup

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A surprise call up for Tom Blundell.

Wicketkeeper Tom Blundell was the surprise call up as New Zealand named their final 15-man squad for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup to be held in England.

28-year-old Blundell made his Test debut for New Zealand in December, 2017 and instantly made an impact with a superb century. The right-hander has so far played two Tests and three T20s but is yet to be capped at the ODI level for New Zealand.

Blundell’s inclusion was the biggest talking point from the final 15-man squad as the Blackcaps became the first of the 10 teams to confirm their personnel for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Ish Sodhi beat off competition from fellow leg-spinner Todd Astle to take his spot as the second spinner in the Kiwi side which also includes Mitchell Santner.

“As with any squad named for a major tournament, there’s had to be some tough calls and there will be some disappointed players,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead stated.

“The key for us was finding the right balance for the squad and making sure we had our bases covered for what is going to be a very competitive World Cup. As a one-day unit we’ve been pretty consistent over the past few years and possess a very experienced group of core players, proven at the top level.

“The World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket and to be the first nation to name a squad for the tournament is really exciting. I’d like to congratulate all the players selected. To represent your country at a World Cup is a huge honour and I know the entire squad and support staff are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

The Kiwis open their World Cup campaign on June 1 with a clash against Sri Lanka at Cardiff.

NEW ZEALAND 15-MAN SQUAD

Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

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