Melbourne: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has tipped India and England as favourites to win the upcoming World Cup on current form but feels that his country also has a chance to defend the title it clinched in 2015.
Ponting said with the impending return of suspended batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, Australia can win the ODI showpiece, which begins on May 30 in England.
"Absolutely," Ponting replied when asked if he thought Australia could win the World Cup.
"India and England are probably the two standout teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into that line-up then I think that team looks as strong as any," the batting legend was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia official website cricket.Com.Au.
Australia have won just four of their most recent 26 ODI contests but Ponting, who was on Friday named as new assistant coach, said the team will be a contender for the title yet again.
"I am not just saying that because I am one of the coaches, I actually said it when I was not around the group. Conditions in England will suit our style of play. I think Australia will be the one of the main contenders for sure," said the 44-year-old three-time World Cup winner.
Smith and Warner were banned for one year by the ICC for their involvement in the infamous ball-tempering scandal in South Africa last year and they will become eligible for international cricket again from March 29.
"With the inclusion of two of the best one-day players in the world who have a lot of experience, all of a sudden the team starts looking a whole lot better. You will have guys that will handle a lot of pressure situations better because they have done it all before," Ponting said about Smith and Warner.
Talking about the concerns of Australian players' weakness against spin, Ponting said, "Looking at our line-up now, there are potentially a few better players of spin in the middle order than what we had last year.
"The thing about English conditions is the wickets should not spin too much throughout the World Cup."...