'Our captain, our fast bowling...': Wasim Akram spills beans on why World Cup in India could be won by Pakistan
The 2023 World Cup will mark the first time that India host the tournament exclusively, having jointly hosted with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan in three previous editions.
India host the ODI World Cup for the first time this year since 2011 and while Rohit Sharma and co. will be keen to win the tournament home turf, they would also be wanting to end the decade-long drought of ICC trophies that they have suffered. Moreover, 2011 was the last time that India had won any World Cup tournament.
This year also marks the first time that India exclusively hosts the tournament. The 2011 tournament, after all, was hosted in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Before that, India and Pakistan had hosted in 1987 while the two countries and Sri Lanka had hosted in 1996. Pakistan had reached the semi-final in the 2011 tournament, where they lost to India by 29 runs. Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has said that while India are among the favourites, Pakistan cannot be discounted.
“Of course I will," said Wasim on Sports Tak when asked if he can say that Pakistan are among the favourites to win the World Cup this year. “Both are fantastic teams. Our captain is a great player and we have one of the best fast-bowling lineups in the world.”
Wasim pointed out the fact that Pakistan's pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi is improving as a batter as well. Afridi led the Lahore Qalandars to a second consecutive Pakistan Super League title on Saturday, scoring an unbeaten 44 off 15 balls and then taking four wickets.
"Shaheen Afridi is currently in prime form. He has led his team to victory in the PSL for the second time. He is developing pretty well as an all-rounder. Then there is Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah. (Mohammad) Hasnain is there, Ihsanullah is an exciting young fast bowler. I think because the World Cup is happening in India, it is the team with the stronger bowling attack that will succeed because the pitches tend to be batter friendly,” he said.
Earlier, former England Michael Vaughan had stated that defending champions England are always major contenders for the trophy. “I have to say that England are the favourites even if it's in conditions that you know is little bit different to what it was in 2019 when they won the World Cup (in England). They (England) have got good spin options. They have got good players who play spin nicely. They have got good variations with the seam bowlers, Jofra Archer coming back (from injury) is huge. And Mark Wood is bowling at 90 miles per hour. So I think England have got the experience, but India will be a threat. If they can commit to an aggressive style, India are going to be a formidable force in home conditions,” he said.