New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS): Gautam Gambhir, the former India opener and a member of 2011 Men’s ODI World Cup winning campaign, believes if the Rohit Sharma-led side have to win the upcoming mega event, then their opening encounter against Australia will be the most important game of their campaign.
India, the 1983 and 2011 champions, will open its campaign against five-time champions Australia on October 8 at the MA Chidambaram in Chennai. It’s the first time India is solely hosting the Men’s ODI World Cup, which is 13th edition of the competition.
"Look, I have always said this, and there is no doubt in this, that if you want to win the World Cup, then you have to beat Australia. In 2007 when we won the World Cup, we defeated Australia in the semifinal. In 2011 when we won the World Cup, we beat Australia in the quarterfinal."
"Australia is the strongest team in any ICC tournament. Remove the ranking, ranking does not matter. You can be in any position in the rankings, but Australia, when it comes to those big tournaments, the World Cups, I think Australia has got the players, they have got the self-belief, Australia has the ability to play those big moments really well."
"And you can see this, the three World Cups that India won, we had to beat Australia in the knockout stage two times. And the World Cups that we have lost, in 2015 we lost to Australia. So I believe that if we have to win the World Cup this year, Australia is going to be the most important game, and we start against Australia, so there is nothing better than that. So beating Australia is very, very important," said Gambhir to Star Sports.
Shane Watson, a member of Australia’s 2007 and 2015 Men’s ODI World Cup winning teams, thinks the prospect of an India-Australia final in the 2023 edition of the competition makes for a tantalising prospect, backing the Pat Cummins-led side to step up in the big matches of the league stage.
"Definitely going to back Australia with the caliber of players they have. They have got a few question marks going into this World Cup, for sure, with a few positions and some injuries they have had, but the players they have got, they certainly know how to step up in these big games."
"And India, being at home, they'd know the conditions better than anyone, their bowlers are obviously on fire at the moment, with their quicks and also Kuldeep Yadav who is only getting better and better. So India with their firepower, especially with their top order in particular, they certainly can go all the way. So for me, Australia and India would be an incredible final," he concluded.