India, Sri Lanka favourites for World Cup: Former Oz players

Melbourne: Former Australian players foresee tough times for Ricky Ponting`s men in the upcoming World Cup despite being the number one ODI side as they feel co-hosts India and Sri Lanka are better-equipped to exploit the conditions.

"They (Australia) are certainly up against it," former wicket-keeper Ian Healy said of the team, which is chasing a record fourth World Cup trophy.

"It`s not our favoured venue for a World Cup victory, but it`s a frontier that needs to be crossed again from `87.

There`s some hot competition from Sri Lanka and India, and I`m envisaging a real battle for the other two semi spots," Healy was quoted as saying.

Healy tipped Sri Lanka to clinch the trophy, saying veteran off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, playing in his last tournament, would be a major factor.

"I think they play most of their games at home, it`s Murali`s last tournament, they`ve got the spinning covered and they`ve got batsmen that can cope and play well in those conditions," he said.

"I think Sri Lanka, then India and then maybe a battle between England, South Africa, Australia and maybe Pakistan for the other two spots in the semis," he added.

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor feels Australia "good enough to make the semifinals" but beyond that it would be tough for them.

"I think the sides to watch are probably India, obviously, and probably Sri Lanka at home," he said.

"Both those sides will be tough to beat, playing on home soil ... South Africa is always dangerous, but I think the real dangers to me are India and Sri Lanka."

Former batsman Michael Slater echoed the views and said getting a grasp over the conditions would be crucial.

"I think there`s a lot of teams in the mix but it`ll be the sub-continent sides like India and Sri Lanka that will use their conditions very nicely," he said.


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