DUBAI: West Indies icon Brian Lara picked India as the favourites entering the 2019 World Cup in England and said he would like to see a repeat of the 2017 Champions Trophy – a final clash between India and Pakistan.
While sporting relations between India and Pakistan have reached an all-time low following escalation of political tensions between the countries, West Indies batting legend Lara nonetheless hoped for another clash between the arch rivals at the biggest stage – the World Cup final.
Speaking to media at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, Lara said the unpredictable English weather makes it really difficult to pick any clear favourites, but still backed India and Pakistan to shine. He however, was not so sure about tournament hosts and top-ranked England.
“The World Cup is going to be very dependent on weather. The English weather, you never know what it is going to be like,” Lara said.
“England in England are a tough opposition but they are also a team that knows how to lose important matches. I was not surprised when Pakistan won the Champions Trophy. I felt that even though they are a team that are inconsistent, they do have players that can win any tournament. The West Indies are similar. Very inconsistent, but on their day they can beat any team.”
Lara picked Virat Kohli‘s India as favourites for the World Cup, stating that India are now a ‘world’ team capable of winning anywhere.
“I feel India have a good opportunity. Indian players are now ‘world’ players. Fifteen, twenty years ago, they were very strong in India. Now they are capable of playing all around the world. India start as favourites ,” the former captain added.
And while Lara expected a resurgent West Indies to mount a serious challenge, he did wish for a blockbuster showdown between the subcontinent giants.
“The Champions Trophy final a couple of years ago, Pakistan versus India… that would be a wonderful final to see again. But I am not going to sell the West Indies short. I think guys like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, if these guys get consistency at the right time, they can make the West Indies people very proud.”