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Exclusive: Shane Watson predicts India and Australia as favourites in T20 World Cup 2022

Raipur, Sep 30: Former Australia cricketer Shane Watson reckons defending champions Australia and India are favourites to win the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2022, which will be held in their own backyard from October 16.

The all-rounder backed Rohit Sharma-led Indian Cricket Team as one of the title favourites because of the way they played against the Aussies in the just concluded three-match series at home. India - who are the number one ranked T20I side - defeated Australia 2-1 at home last week.

The 41-year-old, however, opined that the conditions will definitely suit the hosts better than anybody in the upcoming showpiece event.

While answering to MyKhel's questions during the post-match press conference at the Road Safety World Series 2022 in Raipur, Watson shared his thoughts about the favourites going into the marquee event and said, "India have played well here in the T20I series against Australia (so they are one of the favourites). And Australia, for me, are the other big favourites, (because) they are playing very good T20 cricket at the moment. The conditions in Australia are going to be different, the grounds are going to be much bigger. The pace in the wickets is definitely going to be a little more there as well. Australians are the favourites because of the good brand of cricket they are playing and they'll utilise the home conditions well."

Team India went into the previous edition of the tournament, held last year in the UAE, as the overwhelming favourites and were knocked out from the league stage itself. Australia, however, did well and went on to win the tournament.

Watson-led Australia Legends lost to India Legends in the semi-final by five wickets on Thursday (September 29) at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium and their campaign in the tournament ended with that.

Naman Ojha and Irfan Pathan held on to their nerves in the death overs and pulled off a sensational run chase to propel their team to the final. With 36 needed from the last three overs, Pathan smashed an unbeaten 12-ball 37 and took the hosts home in the run chase of 172.

Dissecting his team's performance and the stage from which the match slipped away from their grip the World Cup-winning cricketer said it could have tilted either side and claimed Irfan's knock made the difference for India.

Watson said, "It was a really good game of cricket as it could have gone either way. There were times when we were in front of the game. The whole of India's innings could have gone either way and a good over could have changed the result. Fortunately for India, Irfan Pathan came in and batted incredibly well. But (overall) it was a brilliant game of cricket. Even during the start yesterday the wickets held up really well and it was an even contest right till the end. The people watching this game could make out it was a good game."

The match was halted on Wednesday due to rain and hence was completed on the next afternoon. When asked if the pitch changed during India's innings chasing, the Aussie legend said the surface was almost similar throughout the contest.

Watson - who is one of the all-time IPL greats - said, "It was pretty similar. It was probably a little tacky last night but things didn't change too much. So, for us, it was important to play the game and play those 20 overs and give our best in the second innings as well."

When asked who took the game away from Australia Legends, Naman Ojha or Irfan Pathan, Watson said, "Both (Naman and Irfan played their parts well). I think Naman batted really well, he's a very skilful batsman and Irfan took the game away from us. Dirk Nannes has bowled very well for us at the back end of the game throughout this tournament but Irfan was too good tonight."

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Story first published: Friday, September 30, 2022, 13:35 [IST]
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