Home favourites Australia and in-form South Africa will pose the biggest threat to India’s title defence as they seek to assert their supremacy in cricket’s showpiece event, the ICC World Cup, which gets rolling with a double header in Melbourne and Christchurch on Saturday.
Besides the top-ranked Australian side, South Africa will once again begin their quest to shed the chokers tag that they have been carrying since their re-entry into international cricket, in the 11th edition of the quadrennial extravaganza.
While the format chalked out by ICC is likely to ensure that all top eight teams Australia, England, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies get to the top-eight phase, this edition of the mega-event will have at least three teams that are on even keel as far as winning the trophy is concerned.
It will not be an easy job for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men to retain the Cup that they won at a packed Wankhede Stadium four years ago. A side still in transition, the Indian team’s composition has undergone a sea change in the last four years with the retirement of the iconic Sachin Tendulkar and the gradual phase-out of last edition’s heroes Yuvraj Singh, the supremely talented Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh.