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'No firm favourites for the 2011 World Cup'

Source: PTI
January 14, 2011 19:28 IST
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With teams such as India, South Africa and England at their peak, former England coach Duncan Fletcher feels the ICC World Cup 2011 will have no clear favourite.

Australia's downfall in world cricket has seen the emergence of India, South Africa, England and Fletcher said it was not possible to predict a winner for the upcoming mega-event.

"It is going to be an open World Cup. There are no firm favorites," said Fletcher. 

"Currently, three teams India, South Africa and England are playing at their peak. But all the three teams have their set of strengths and weaknesses," he added. 

Fletcher also warned that apart from these three nations, even Sri Lanka could not be ruled out. 

"You can't rule out Sri Lanka. They are always a dangerous side," he said. Elaborating on England's strengths and weaknesses, the 62-year-old Englishman said, "England can be considered a good athletic side in one-day cricket. And the best part is their confidence is high after beating Australia on their backyard. 

"But they do struggle on the slow wickets of the sub-continent because in England they don't play on those sorts of wickets. Few of the young players might find it difficult to adjust to the conditions here," he said. Fletcher said South Africa would be a huge threat but added that even though Australia are no longer the team they used to be they could never be underestimated. 

"SA are undoubtedly going to be huge threat. With playing like Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers in their ranks, they would be a force to reckon with," he said. 

"No one can though never write off Australia ever," said the former coach, adding that the same holds true for Pakistani team as well. Although claiming that India were the favourites at the moment, Fletcher said that the hosts would be under tremendous pressure to perform on their home ground. 

"India are be favorites at this stage. But on their home ground, they would be under enormous pressure. Whether they can handle that pressure would determine a lot of things. 

"The pressure is being added by the success of the IPL. Not necessarily because the Indian players do well in the IPL but because of the mere fact that the cash-rich tournament takes place in India. Meanwhile, talking about the key factors during the World Cup, Fletcher said that role of spinners would be crucial. 

"I really believe that the spinners are going to be crucial. Also, I think fitness would be a key issue as it's going to be hot there. Adapting to the sub-continent wickets would be another key area as a lot will depend on applying the right techniques," he said.

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