England’s Stuart Broad has fired the first shots ahead of his team’s World Cup opener against Australia, claiming the host nation won’t even make the final of the tournament.
England face Australia in the opening game of the global showpiece on 14 February.
Broad also warned that their fiercest rivals could risk losing their captain Michael Clarke if he tried to return to action too soon after hamstring surgery, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australia are one of the favourites to win the World Cup after a dominant recent tri-series against India and England.
Broad, however, is not convinced that England would face them in the final.
‘New Zealand or South Africa,’ he predicted.
‘I don’t know how it all works towards the end (and) Australia are massive favourites, but New Zealand are looking dangerous and South Africa are looking very dangerous.’
‘The format of the World Cup is they are not must-wins at the start but it would take a lot of pressure off us. We’ve got tough games at the start and it will free us up if we win a couple of the first three. It’s not the end of the world if we don’t but it would take a lot of pressure off us if we do.
‘We played some really good cricket against India in the tri-series and Australia did it a couple of times. I think we’re due, too.’
AUSTRALIA PIP INDIA IN WARM-UP
Centuries by David Warner and Glen Maxwell helped Australia overcome their latest comfortable win over a lacklustre India, this time in a World Cup warm-up match at Adelaide Oval, reports ESPNcricinfo.
Warner’s innings provided the platform for Maxwell to launch from at the back end of the innings in a fixture that was not an official ODI. Less fluent was the acting captain George Bailey, who played in fits and starts during his 44. He grows more likely to be the man to make way when Michael Clarke is passed fit after hamstring surgery.
India’s reply was notable only for a return to runs from Shikhar Dhawan, who showed improved balance and intent while making 59, and another useful innings from Ajinkya Rahane. Otherwise MS Dhoni’s men showed little sign of escaping the torpor that has seen them fail to win a single match on the tour so far – the flight home presently appears more tempting than the prospect of a successful Cup defence.
INDIA GET REPLACEMENT FOR ISHANT
World Cup organsiers have accepted India’s request to replace fast bowler Ishant Sharma in their World Cup squad with se`mer Mohit Sharma.
Ishant was ruled out of the tournament with a knee-injury.
The World Cup’s technical committee had agreed to make the change in the defending champions’ 15-man squad led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the International Cricket Council said in a statement.
The lanky Ishant, the most experienced seamer in India’s current squad with 106 wickets from 76 one-day internationals, has not played since being injured during the Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne in December.
Mohit, 26, who has played 12 one-dayers and taken 10 wickets, is already in Australia as an additional member of the team that played in the recent tri-series that also featured England.