Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has picked his favourites to lift the World Cup. The two-time World Cup winning captain believes hosts England are perfectly set up to go all the way and claim the trophy on their home soil.
"Initially, it would be England for two reasons. England have started playing well in limited overs and the tournament will be played on their home turf. Naturally, they will have some home advantage," Ponting told Times of India.
He also believes that this World Cup will be a very open tournament as the Round Robin format will ensure that only the best teams make it to the semi-finals. Although he named England as the favourites, Punter also picked Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa as sides which can cause upsets.
The Aussie great added, "They are also good. This will be a very open World Cup. Although England are clear favourites, there are other strong teams who can cause upsets."
What about Australia?
Ponting also stated that with the inclusion of David Warner and Steve Smith in the side, Australia are suddenly looking like a team to watch out for as both batsmen are hungry and in form. "The inclusion of these two cricketers (Smith and Warner) would definitely enhance Australia's performance in the World Cup. Australia did not do well while they were away from the team. I'm sure, not only me, but the whole team is really excited to have them back," the 2003 and 2007 World Cup winner mentioned.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes too believes that England have earned the tag of favourites as they have been very consistent in the recent past and hence, have the confidence to go for the title when the marquee tournament starts.
"I think we have earned the right to be favourites with the cricket that we have played in the last three or four years. Being world no.1, you will always come into the tournament as favourites. If India or Australia were the no.1 ranked team, they would come into the tournament as favourites," Stokes said at the end of the 5th ODI match against Pakistan.