Putting India and England as favourites to win the forthcoming ICC World Cup, batting great V.V.S. Laxman on Wednesday said Virat Kohli and Co. are peaking at the right time after their historic ODI series triumphs in Australia and New Zealand. “It’s all about peaking at the right time which is so important. The World Cup is a long format so every player should be at his best physically and mentally if India has to win the World Cup. They start as favourites. For me, India and England start as favourites,” Laxman told reporters on the sidelines of Bengal’s Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament preparations here. Also Read - Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli, Sardar Singh to Abhinav Bindra: India's Sporting Community Pays Tribute to 'Rare Role Model' Balbir Singh Sr.
The 44-year old is a batting consultant of the Bengal team as a part of Cricket Association of Bengal’s Vision 2020 programme. The World Cup kicks off in England from May 30 with India taking on South Africa in their opening game on June 5 in Southampton. Also Read - Dean Elgar Willing To Succeed Faf Du Plessis As South Africa’s Test Captain, Says Leadership Comes Naturally to Me
The Indian team edged Australia 2-1 in the three-match series and then went on to thump New Zealand by a healthy margin of 4-1 in the 50-over format. Also Read - Babar Azam is Very Close to Being in Same League as Virat Kohli, Steve Smith: Misbah-ul-Haq
India will now take on Australia at home in five ODIs and two T20s starting February 24. “I think brilliant. The way they played, I would like to congratulate the entire team,” Laxman said.
“The way they played right from the Australia series to the New Zealand series… and it’s not only one or two players who have put their hand up. Everyone has contributed. So it’s great to see bowling and batting departments contribute,” he added.
Talking about the Bengal team which failed to make the final at home last season after finishing third in the Super League Group B of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Laxman said: “The preparation has been really good. We had a lot of match simulation. In T20 cricket, better than nets is match simulation. It has been a very realistic practice. We played a couple of games too.”
The 2011 champions Bengal open their domestic T20 campaign against Mizoram in their group D fixture at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on February 21.
Laxman was part of a three-day camp which took place at the Eden Gardens and concluded at the Jadavpur University Campus ground here on Wednesday. Laxman, who has been with the team led by Manoj Tiwary since 2014, said he was disappointed with Bengal failing to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Ranji Trophy, adding the team has the potential to win the tournament.
“I am disappointed that they did not qualify but the potential of the side is to go on and win the Ranji Trophy,” he said.
Laxman also backed Bengal coach and former India opener Arun Lal, saying his presence in the dressing room will make the players mentally strong.
“Arun has always been someone who is mentally tough and he will inspire the team. He is a great asset to the team.”
Laxman also hoped that the BCCI look into playing U-23 CK Nayudu Trophy final in neutral venues with the summit clash game this time between Punjab and Bengal ending in just two days. Punjab edged past Bengal by one wicket to clinch the title.
“That is something that the BCCI has to work out. The wicket could have been better. It was spinner friendly. You want U-23 finals to go the distance as it gives an opportunity for the youngsters to showcase their talent. But youngsters should also know how to play in different conditions,” he concluded.
(With IANS Inputs)