Kolkata: Indian cricket team, led by Virat Kohli, will be the favourite to lift next year's ODI World Cup in England, former opener Virender Sehwag avowed on Friday. With the Kohli-led India looking solid in batting and a formidable force in bowling, 2011 World Cup winner Sehwag also predicted that they would win their first overseas Test series when they tour Australia later this year.
"The kind of ODI team we have, we are favourites to win the 2019 World Cup. Don't you believe it? Absolutely (we are favourites)," Sehwag said during a promotional event.
The former swashbuckling India opener said India boast of a perfect combination in batting and bowling department, a luxury they never had in the Sourav Ganguly era.
"This team has the capability to win a Test series outside India with the kind of bowling and batting we have. We just missed to win the Test series in South Africa or else we could have created history."
"In our days, we had Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra but these four never played together except in 2003 when we made the final. This team has a lot more capability and can deliver under any conditions."
That Australia may not have the suspended duo of Steve Smith and David Warner may make India firm favourites in the Australia series.
"It does not matter if they are with the team or not. Even then, we will win," said Sehwag.
India's World T20 triumph under MS Dhoni remains one of his best memories.
"We won two World Cups. But we got a lot of messages on that day (2007). We were a young team with a young captain. Nobody was expecting us to win the World Cup."
Sehwag also thanked Sourav Ganguly for converting him into an opener. "The moment I scored a hundred, I was very happy. I hugged Ganguly many times. He was very humble and only captain to have sacrificed his place as an opener for me in Tests."
The mentor of the Kings XI Punjab team has got a masterstroke in buying Chris Gayle at his base price of Rs 2 crore after he was left unsold twice at this year's auctions. The 38-year-old Gayle, who is the leading run-scorer in Twenty20 cricket, lit up the IPL with the first century of season 11, hitting an unbeaten 104 off 63 deliveries.
"I've already tweeted it because nobody is a greater entertainer than him. That was a strategy because we had to buy other players also. He would have cost more if he was taken up in the first phase.
"He missed a lot of games (last year) because he had pain in his back. Kohli dropped him also. I was expecting nobody will pick him; he's of my age. If we pick him, he's a good guy to do the marketing. He's fabulous with all the marketing guys, everyone loves Chris Gayle.
"He was fitting in our group. We bought him for Rs 2 crore; and if he wins us two games, I recover my money. He's a big asset for KXIP now," Sehwag concluded.