Nobody understands the pain of being left out of a World Cup squad more than VVS Laxman. In the 2003 World Cup, he was left gutted after Dinesh Mongia was picked ahead of him. Playing in cricket’s showpiece event remained an unfulfilled dream for the wristy batsman. Thus he could relate to Ambati Rayudu’s disappointment after he was ignored for the World Cup in the UK.In a freewheeling chat, Laxman also spoke about the Indian team combination, the Dhoni factor, and why this World Cup will be a high-scoring affair. He picked India and England as favourites and West Indies as the dark horses.Excerpts: Your thoughts on Ambati Rayudu being left out.It will be very disappointing for Rayudu because I felt he had done everything possible to be in that squad. Since the West Indies series (Oct 2018), where he was asked to bat at No 4, he has consistently performed in that position. He was the highest run-getter in the series, so I was a little surprised they didn’t go with the experience of Rayudu even after performing. It will be very, very painful. I have experienced that in 2003. But as an international sportsperson, it is important to bounce back strongly, and I hope Rayudu does that.ALSO READ: Complete coverage of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019Vijay Shankar is being considered as No 4.He is very good, a talented player. He has got an opportunity in the World Cup and it is important he grabs it. He is very hard working. I just wish everyone in the Indian team goes out and plays to potential because they have the ability to lift the World Cup. For me, India and England start favourites.Your assessment of the Indian squad, are we a batsman short?The top order batsmen have done really well. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been instrumental in winning a lot of matches and in the last three-four years, and they have been very consistent. Virat Kohli is the best batsman in the world. Overall, we have a balanced, experienced side. It’s about them going there and playing to potential. I don’t think we are a genuine batsman short. There are a lot of options. There is KL Rahul, he is a class player. You have Dinesh Karthik, who is again very experienced. There is lot of depth in batting.Kuldeep Yadav’s struggle in IPL seems a worry. Can it hurt his Cup performance?There will be no impact. Kuldeep is a special talent, and T20s and ODIs require different skill sets. The reason why we have done well in the last 18 months – we beat South Africa in South Africa and won series in Australia and New Zealand –is our wrist spinners have done really well. Both (Yuzvendra) Chahal and Kuldeep can pick wickets regularly in the middle overs. So, I don’t think you can take into consideration what’s happening in T20 because the 50-over format is different.ALSO READ: Andre Russell ‘hungry’ for West Indies return at World CupShould we play two spinners every match in the World Cup?Absolutely. I hope they play both. You have to be flexible, based on the conditions. But personally, irrespective of the conditions, I would like to see two wrist spinners in the side.Who do you think will be the dark horse?West Indies. The way they played against England at home and the way Chris Gayle made a comeback. Andre Russell is there, so they can be the dark horse.What can be expected from this World Cup?It will probably be the most challenging and competitive in a long time. Just the format, each team playing the other, you can’t be complacent. You have to be consistent throughout the tournament. It is going to be a long tournament. The team which plays consistently well, doesn’t peak early, will lift the World Cup. It’s going to be high-scoring. Though it is in England, we have seen over the last three-four years that the pitches are very flat. The average score is close to 300. It is going to be highly competitive.It will be Dhoni’s last World Cup.He is a very important member of this team. Not only as a batsman or keeper, he plays the role of a mentor. He has got abundant experience and he gets the best out of the players. He is a great asset to this team, and if he performs, it will give a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the team. I have a feeling he will have a wonderful World Cup. Be it the Dhoni-Virat combination or Dhoni-bowlers, he almost (always) tells them where to bowl, just that bonding between Dhoni and all the players is very healthy. He is a great player, he was an exceptional captain, and I am sure the team management will use his experience and all players will benefit.David Warner is giving exceptional performances for Sunrisers Hyderabad.He is just looking forward to play and enjoy the game. When a player like Warner, who takes so much pride in playing, suddenly misses a year of cricket, he really looks forward (to doing well). What really impressed me was his rhythm right from the first day I saw him in Hyderabad. When you don’t play quality, competitive cricket for one year, even though he played in a couple of franchise leagues, sometimes you don’t get that rhythm. But from the first practice session that rhythm was there, which was important. It showed how much eager he was to do well in IPL. He prepared really well coming here. When he is with SRH, he is like a leader. He is someone who contributes a lot, on and off the ground. He encourages youngsters, helps the entire team get better. Whenever he scores, it has been impact runs.