Melbourne: West Indian batting legend Brian Lara believes India will defend the World Cup if they beat Australia in the semi-final which will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 26.
Lara, who is doing commentary for Sky Sports here, told mid-day yesterday: “The top four teams (India, Australia, South Africa have already qualified. New Zealand will take on West Indies today for the fourth spot) are in the semis. If India manages to beat Australia in the semi-final, I have no doubt that they can become world champions again.”
Lara praised India’s bowling which has helped them win seven matches on the trot in this World Cup. “India’s plus point is that their bowlers are bowling well. That is giving them an edge. Swing, bounce and speed are important, but most important is bowling intelligently. Indian bowlers may not be very strong on paper, but they have taken 70 wickets (in seven matches), which is a key factor,” said Lara, the only batsman in history to score 400 runs in Test cricket.
Lara is highly impressed with Mohammad Shami’s performance. “He is an outstanding bowler. He has improved a lot,” he noted.
Brian backs Associates
Meanwhile, Lara is not convinced with the International Cricket Council’s decision to have a 10-team affair for the 2019 World Cup. “You anyway have 10 teams playing Test cricket. In order to globalise the sport, a few more teams must be included. World Cup is played once every four years, so smaller teams (ICC’s Associate nations) should play in the World Cup.
“And these big teams (ICC’s full members) should look after these Associate nations, so that they can also produce big players. If that happens, overall cricketing standards will improve,” Lara opined.
Lara, however, did not seem to have an issue with modern-day bats. “It is modernisation of bats. Even tennis racquets have improved over the years. Cricket was played in favour of the batsmen even 100 years ago. It has always been a batsmen’s game,” Lara signed off.