Sunil Gavaskar World Cup column: The team to watch out for is South Africa

They have shown with their come from behind win over Australia in the series last month that they are peaking at the right time

By Sunil Gavaskar

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Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar
Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar

Published: Wed 4 Oct 2023, 6:18 PM

This edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup promises to be the most closely fought one ever. Thanks to the proliferation of the T20 leagues all over the world, every player has got used to a faster pace that the game demands.

The 50 overs per side white-ball game is like two and half T20 games and teams being used to the extreme pressures that a T20 game demands are able to adjust to tough situations quite quickly.

England are the defending world champions in both the 50 overs as well as the T20 formats and start as the favourites to win the title once again. There is no apparent weakness in their team. They have destructive batters to start with and have finishers who can hit the ball deep into the crowd.

Their bowling is a great mix too, and with their fielding also being top drawer, it's hard to look beyond England for the title. That said, we have seen how this game can turn on its head in a matter of deliveries and there are other teams who are capable of taking advantage of the situation and grabbing their chance.

The hosts India are one such team who are coming into the tournament in top form and looking very dangerous indeed. They have a batting line-up to die for and the variety in the bowling to trouble all the opposition. If there is any weakness, it’s in the fielding where they have a couple of fielders to hide and it will be up to the skipper to do that effectively.

The 50 overs World Cup has been won most times by the Australians and as always they will be in the mix too despite their recent form which has not been most encouraging.

New Zealand too have a good record of being in the semifinals in 8 out of the 12 editions of the tournament so far and with their talismanic skipper Kane Williamson likely to be playing from the second week of the tournament they will be a team to watch out for too.

The other subcontinent teams know the conditions well and will be a danger too but apart from Pakistan who need a dose of energy they don't look like going all the way.

The team to watch out for is South Africa. Perhaps it’s the first tournament when not many have rated them as favourites and that would ease the burden of expectations on them.

They have shown with their come from behind win over Australia in the series last month that they are peaking at the right time. They made their comeback to international cricket after their 21-year isolation with a one-day series in India.

Who knows, India could well be the country where they get their hands on their first World Cup.

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