Former South Africa captain Kepler Wessels has stopped short of labeling India the "favorites" at 2019 Cricket World Cup but said Virat Kohli's team will be "difficult to beat".
Wessels' comments come after India's dominating run in the ongoing six-match ODI series in South Africa. The Men in Blue lost the rain-curtailed Pink Day match in Johannesburg on Saturday, February 1 but have already clinched an unassailable 3-1 lead.
India have not faced defeat in a bilateral ODI series since losing to Australia in 2016. The Asian giants, who are sitting on the second spot behind South Africa on ICC rankings, have won eight straight rubbers since.
Also, Kohli's men need another win in South Africa to become the first-ever Indian team to win a bilateral ODI series in the "Rainbow Nation".
60-year-old Wessels seems to be impressed with the way India have fought back after losing the recently-concluded Test series 2-1 against South Africa. The cricketer-turned-commentator also lauded the variety and depth the current Indian ODI team possesses.
"I wouldn't say favorites, but they will be very competitive [at the 2019 World Cup]. Barring injuries to key players, it's looking good for them. They will be difficult to beat," Wessels told the Times of India newspaper.
He added:"I think that India's One-Day team at the moment is very good. Their Test team is good too. I mean they are ranked No. 1 in the Tests, but I think that this ODI team, with the combination and variety that they have is excellent."
Lack of depth in South African team worries Wessels
Wessels also expressed concern at lack of reliable options in the South African batting line-up beyond captain Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, and Hashim Amla.
Indian wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal ran through a depleted South African batting line-up, which missed both Du Plessis and De Villiers to injuries in the second and third ODIs.
The hosts were shot down for their lowest total at home (118) in the second ODI at Supersport Park in Centurion as the inexperienced middle-order was bamboozled by wrist spin.
"Yes there is [lack of depth], because all three of them are of the same age more or less. There's a chance that post 2019, they might not be there anymore, so nobody else will be exceptional or remarkable to put their hand up [to replace them]," Wessels said.