“I am very, very confident in our squad and I think Indian cricket will always be strong,” the Delhi Capitals mentor said on Tuesday.
“This team under Virat (Kohli)is a very strong team. And a team which has players like Kohli, Rohit (Sharma), (Shikhar) Dhawan, (Jasprit) Bumrah, (Hardik) Pandya or M. S. Dhoni has to be a side to watch out for,” he added.
The upcoming World Cup sees the 10 qualified teams take on each other in a round-robin format before the top four sides advance to the semi-finals. Ganguly, who led India to a runner-up finish in the 2003 edition, feels that the format will bring the best out of all the 10 competing teams.
“It will be a fantastic World Cup. There are no easy names. This format was put into play last time in 1992 when everyone played everyone and the best ones went on to qualify. This format will bring the best out of everyone,” he stated.
“They are all strong teams. A couple of years ago it was different. Now, West Indies is strong. Australia is back to where they were. India is strong… New Zealand is strong.”
Ganguly also refused to rule out the chances of India’s arch-rivals Pakistan in the World Cup with the former batsman wary of their bowling prowess in English conditions.
“Pakistan always had good bowling skills and it becomes better in England. You see the Champions Trophy (2017 edition). They have gone to a World Cup final, too, in England,” the former India skipper said.
The Delhi Capitals team mentor also had words of consolation for young wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant who failed to make the cut for India’s 15-man World Cup squad.
“He (Pant) will play many more World Cups. This is just the beginning; he shouldn’t worry,” Ganguly remarked.
The 37-year-old was in England as part of Pakistan’s squad for the one-off T20I and five-match ODI series but will now fly home for a 10-day break to take care of domestic issues.
“The Pakistan cricket team management has given leave to Shoaib Malik so that he can return home to deal with a domestic issue. He is expected to rejoin the team in 10 days’ time,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement on Monday.
“The PCB will not be making any further comments and fully expects all concerned to respect Shoaib’s privacy.”
The PCB will not be making any further comments and fully expects all concerned to respect Shoaib’s privacy.— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) April 29, 2019
Malik will miss the one-off T20 as well as the first ODI against England and he is expected to rejoin the squad before the second ODI which is slated to take place on May 11.
The right-hander took no part in Pakistan’s tour match against Northamptonshire on Monday which the visitors won by eight wickets. The Men in Green will next take on Leicestershire in their final tour game on Wednesday before locking horns with England in the sole T20 at Cardiff on May 5.
Amir has endured a miserable time in limited-overs cricket over the past two years or so with the pacer picking up just four wickets in 14 ODIs since the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final against India.
That poor form led to Amir missing the cut for Pakistan’s 15-man preliminary World Cup squad although the pacer will get one more chance to force his way in. The 27-year-old has been included in the Pakistan squad for the upcoming five-match ODI series against hosts England and could still make a case for himself with the deadline for finalising the World Cup squad being May 23.
“We can’t discount Amir from the World Cup,” Wasim Akram was quoted as saying by AFP.
“Amir would have been my first choice for the World Cup considering English conditions where he performs well.
“I am confident that he will do well once his rhythm is back.”
Pakistan have included teenaged pacers Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain in their 15-man preliminary squad but Wasim Akram feels that Amir’s experience is necessary for a big tournament such as the World Cup.
“I am all for youth but experience has no substitute, so we should mix youth with experience,” the legendary Pakistan pacer stated.
“He (Amir) is a good learner so I hope things will come good for him sooner than later because Pakistan team needs him,” he added.
Amir is currently in England with the Pakistan ODI squad which beat Northamptonshire by eight wickets in their second tour game on Monday. The Men in Green had earlier beaten Kent by 100 runs in their first warm-up game of the tour.
Pakistan will lock horns with Leicestershire on Wednesday in their final tour game before they take on England in a one-off T20I followed by a five-match ODI series.