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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Shane Warne picks World Cup winner, has his say on Virat Kohli’s greatness

Shane Warne says match-winners like Stoinis, Maxwell, Finch, Smith, Warner, Turner Cummins and Starc make defending champions a formidable side going into the World Cup

cricket Updated: Mar 16, 2019 09:05 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
New Delhi
Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne poses during an interview for Hindustan Times in New Delhi, India on Wednesday.
Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne poses during an interview for Hindustan Times in New Delhi, India on Wednesday. (Sarang Gupta/Hindustan Times)
         

Shane Warne couldn’t hide his joy after Australia rallied to clinch the five-ODI series 3-2, their first in India in 10 years. The legendary leg-spinner feels this triumph has opened up the debate for World Cup favourites and fancies his country defending the title in England.

HT caught up with the 49-year-old Australian, who is also the brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals, to discuss the World Cup, IPL, comparisons between Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli among other things. Excerpts:

Favourites for the World Cup...

India and England have to be the favourites. They’ve played great cricket over the last 12 months. But Australia have won four out of the last six World Cups. They won the last one in England (in 1999), they love big tournaments. They’ve got (Steve) Smith and (David) Warner coming back who are hungry and determined. They chased down 360 without Smith and Warner. I think Australia will win the World Cup. They’ve finally found their belief that they can win from anywhere. Australia will win the World Cup but India and England go in as favourites.

 Also Watch: ‘No team starts as favorites for a World Cup,’ says Virat Kohli

Australia are peaking and getting act together at the right moment...

Australia’s performance in the last 12 months in all forms has been ordinary, pretty poor. Just in the last month or so, the one-day team has really come together pretty well. When you look at the side there are so many match-winners Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch, you got Smith and Warner to come back in, young guys like Ashton Turner. Then you look at the bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc; there are some pretty amazing players in that side. But above all, they’re starting to find that belief again. Australian sides have always believed they can win from anywhere. That is what makes me believe that Australia can win this World Cup because that game on Sunday, they didn’t have a right to win. India should have won that game. And then Australia chased down 360, the biggest total they have ever chased. A young guy (Turner) playing his second game got 80 off 40 (84 off 43). It was amazing. There aren’t many teams who come to India in recent times and beat them in T20s and ODIs! So that’s great form leading up to the World Cup.

Smith and Warner will be reintegrating with the team...

That shouldn’t be a problem. When they got their 12-month suspension, if you had to name the top-5 batsmen in the world at that time, you’d say Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Smith, Warner and probably Kane Williamson. Australia had two of the best five batsmen in the world. It was a huge loss but having them back, their class mixing with Finch, Stoinis, Maxwell, Turner — they all can win the game on their own. Smith and Warner will be hungry, fresh, raring to go, very determined and would want to let their bat do the talking. Look out for them, anyone who thinks Smith and Warner wouldn’t perform, you’re wrong.

Will the IPL help them?

Of course! Where else can they play? Practice matches, nets? They are playing in a proper competition, in the best T20 league in the world, against guys who will play in the World Cup. So it is fantastic preparation leading up to the World Cup, even if it is T20.

The gap between IPL and World Cup is small. How will players manage their bodies, fatigue, injuries etc?

Just get away from the game, freshen up, spend time with families, play Xbox, watch movies, play golf, just chill out before World Cup. Every player will have the World Cup at the back of their mind. But the biggest thing right now is the IPL. That’s all they’ll be focussed on. At the end of the IPL there’ll be enough time. They will get together for a week or 10-day camp so there is enough time to concentrate on IPL, finish it, have your break, freshen up and then switch on for the World Cup.

The Royals have failed to emulate their 2008 success...

The Royals have always been the underdogs in IPL. The owners have been clever in their buys. The Chennais, Kolkatas, Mumbais — all the big sides have the big Indian players. This year everyone is tipping the Royals because if you look at the side, the guys they put together — Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Turner, Smith, Jofra Archer, Sanju Samson. There are so many match-winners. I think the Royals will win this year because their squad is outstanding, the best they’ve had. Anything less than making the playoffs, we all will be disappointed. I’m tipping them to win it and I’m tipping Sanju Samson to be the Player of the Tournament.

What is your take on the emergence of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal?

Ashwin is a terrific bowler. He and Jadeja did a good job but Kuldeep and Chahal in that form of the game (limited overs), they’re just better. They have proven to be better. India are very lucky to have unearthed young Yadav and Chahal who have can bowl in any situation. They spin the ball, confuse the batsmen, and you throw Jadeja in there too — the variety India have in their attack is one of the reasons why they are performing so well and are favourites for the World Cup. All three will make the World Cup squad. Jadeja plays as an all-rounder. Yadav plays too and depending on the conditions Chahal will play as well.

Vijay Shankar has caught the attention...

Hardik Pandya should definitely go because he is a match-winner. Vijay Shankar is good but Pandya is a better all-rounder than Shankar.

Also read: No clear World Cup favourites, Virat Kohli says after series defeat

Before Kohli’s emergence, did you think that Tendulkar’s records would ever be challenged?

I see it this way. Don Bradman unanimously is the greatest batsman of all time. The best batsman I saw was Viv Richards. The best players I bowled to are Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. Looking at Kohli, everyone wants to know where he sits in it all. It’s very hard to judge a player while he’s still playing. In general, we judge a player when he finishes. I’m still tied at whether Viv Richards or Virat Kohli is the greatest ever one-day batsman. I don’t know who is the best because I’m challenging myself between the best batsman I ever saw and how destructive he was in all forms and then I look at Virat — he’s got 23-24 hundreds chasing targets. That is unbelievable. Viv is next at 8-9 I think. I am still thinking it over. But Virat will have the greatest record of any cricketer by the time he finishes, in all forms. He will break all records of anyone that’s ever been.

First Published: Mar 15, 2019 09:28 IST

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