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Australians declare India "big favourites" for T20 World Cup

Cricket

Steve Smith and Shane Watson have declared hosts India will be the team to beat at the Twenty20 World Cup.

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India won the recent T20 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, while they crushed Australia 3-0 in a three-match T20 series earlier this year.

“India are probably one of the best sides going around in T20 cricket,” Australia skipper Smith said in South Africa.

“They’ve got a great squad and they play very well in India as well, so I think they’re going to be tough to beat.”

Watson, the only member of Australia’s 15-man squad to have played in all five previous T20 World Cups, agreed.

“There’s no doubt that India are going to be big favourites, with the balance of their team and the conditions,” Watson said.

“You saw how they performed in the 2011 [ODI] World Cup, they absorbed home-town pressure very well.”

They aren’t exactly controversial comments.

Bookmakers have listed MS Dhoni’s men as short-priced favourites to grab their second T20 World Cup trophy.

English pundits Michael Atherton and Paul Collingwood have both tipped the hosts to triumph, while New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson recently expressed similar sentiments.

Former batsman Virender Sehwag went so far as to declare India had a “99 per cent” chance of becoming the first host side to win a T20 World Cup.

Dhoni wasn’t interested in the discussion.

“When it comes to expectations, I don’t think it is any lesser than what it was in the 2011 World Cup,” India’s captain told reporters in Kolkata.

“We don’t think too much about the expectations, the reason being it can put you under pressure… we are looking to make slow and steady progress, rather than think too far ahead.”

Watson noted that while India will rightly start favourites, the nature of the shortened format meant any side could lift the trophy in Kolkata on April 3.

“Any team can produce an incredible performance on any day,” Watson said.

“You’ve got so many great players who are playing in this tournament, who at any stage can just take a game away from the opposition… it’s going to be a really tight tournament, as it always is.”

-AAP

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