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Pakistan among favourites to win World Cup 2019, say former cricketers

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Pakistan celebrate winning the ICC Champions Trophy, June 18, 2017. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

LONDON: With just under a year to go for cricket’s mega event, cricketing legends have already started predicting their favourites for the ICC World Cup 2019. 

And many have high hopes from Pakistan. 

Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis believes the Pakistan cricket team has what it takes to deliver at the World Cup.

Speaking at a launch event of next year’s World Cup at the iconic Brick Lane in London, the former swing bowler said Pakistan’s recent record in England might work in their favour. 

“It is too early to say who will be the winner as there is still a year to go, but Pakistan’s recent track record in England has been impressive,” he said, talking about the Sarfraz Ahmed-led team’s victory over England in the first Test at Lord’s.

“They finished runners-up in the 1999 edition and then won the T20 World Cup in 2009. Last year they won the Champions Trophy which shows Pakistan’s [impressive] record in England,” the speedster said.

Younis added that the win against England was a massive boost for newcomers in the team and that they have a year to gain more experience before the big tournament. 

The event, dubbed “One Year To Go Launch”,  was also attended by other cricket ambassadors including England captain Eoin Morgan as well as ICC Cricket Hall of Famer Brian Lara, along with former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, South Africa’s Allan Donald, New Zealand bowler Mitchell McClenaghan and Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal.

It brought together avid supporters from different cricketing nations and kids from various local cricket clubs. The cricket legends also joined the kids in a cricket match later. 

Lara echoed Younis’ opinion, saying there will be a lot of expectations from Pakistan with fans hoping for a repeat of the Champions Trophy final last year.

England’s Eoin Morgan suggested there were a few teams in form at the moment.

“In last year’s Champions Trophy, Pakistan had a very strong and young team and was one of the best teams of the tournament.

“We have to consider both Pakistan and India (who played the final against Pakistan) as well as ourselves and continue to learn from our mistakes.”

Steve Elworthy, the managing director of next year’s World Cup, said their aim is to deliver an outstanding event for players, officials and fans.

“We want to leave a lasting impression that will inspire more people to play or get involved in cricket not only in England and Wales but across the world,” he said. 

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, who was also present at the launch event, said, “The ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales is truly unique. It offers every competing nation a ‘home crowd’ atmosphere with passionate fans. That combined with the best teams in the world going head to head in outstanding venues is a fantastic combination for cricket fans globally.

“We’re going to make this event a great celebration of cricket and the cultural diversity of our sport, bringing people and communities together from Manchester to Mumbai and Southampton to Sydney,” he added.

In the World Cup 2019, the 10 participating teams will play against each other once, with the top four teams proceeding to the knockout stages.

The tournament will kick off on May 30, 2019 with hosts England taking on South Africa at The Oval, London. Lord’s will host the final for a record fifth time on July 14, 2019.

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