Kolkata: Australia and South Africa will remain biggest threats for India in their bid to regain the ODI World Cup, feels former skipper Sourav Ganguly.
Having endured back-to-back defeats against India and South Africa, five-time champions Australia have got their mojo back with four wins on the trot to climb to top-four.
“Australia and South Africa will be the two biggest challengers for India,” Ganguly said at Eden Gardens that hosted its first World Cup match on Saturday with Bangladesh taking on the Netherlands.
“They have bounced back really well and are playing really good cricket. Today’s win (against New Zealand) was really thrilling,” the former BCCI president said.
In an earlier match in Dharamsala on Saturday, Australia rode on Travis Head’s brutal 67-ball 109 and David Warner’s 65-ball 81 to post a mammoth 388 in 49.2.
Later, Australia overcame a spirited New Zealand challenge to win by five runs in a thrilling last-ball finish.
The record five-time champions are in top-four and are well on course for a semifinal berth.
Often labelled as ‘chokers’, South Africa have taken the tournament by storm with power-packed batting performances as Ganguly have included the Proteas at the expense of defending champions England.
“Never thought England would play like that but that’s what sports is all about,” Ganguly said.
South Africa now occupy the top spot in the 10-team standings with five wins from six matches, going past India.
Second placed India will take on England in their sixth round clash in Lucknow on Sunday.
“India is a strong side and is doing well. But championship is too far, first they have to get past the knockout stage,” Ganguly said.
India also have an injury concern in their premier allrounder Hardik Pandya who is nursing a ligament tear and is likely to miss more matches.
“He is an important player but India are still a very strong side,” he said.
India will play South Africa in an eighth round clash here on November 5 and the demand for tickets for the match have gone skyhigh.
“It’s India match obviously there will be craze. Thankfully I’m not (BCCI) president anymore. I don’t have any tickets with me,” the former captain said.
Ganguly was also excited to see so many Bangladeshi supporters in the Saturday’s match.
Bangladesh found themselves ‘at home’ as about 70 per cent of the 15,202 attendance in the game against the Dutch were from the neighbouring country.
“Bangladesh is close, so it’s obvious so many people have come. It’s good to see so many Bangladeshi fans here. They have played well too. I hope the crowd attendance will be more for the Pakistan-Bangladesh game on Tuesday,” Ganguly signed off.
(Published 28 October 2023, 15:38 IST)