ODI World Cup 2023: Kohli recalls fond memories of 2011 final; Akram upbeat about Pak’s chances


Virat Kohli (ANI Photo)

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The ‘Chasemaster’ and former India captain Virat Kohli expressed his delight over the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 schedule and picked the venue he is most excited to play during the World Cup at home.

ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 schedule was unveiled on Tuesday at a gathering in Mumbai. The World Cup kicks off on October 5 with a repeat of the 2019 final as England takes on New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Hosts India will begin their campaign on October 8 against five-time World Cup champions Australia in Chennai.

For the first time, India will be the sole host nation for a 50-over World Cup. They previously shared hosting duties with countries from the subcontinent such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in 1987, 1996, and 2011.

The 2011 World Cup champion Kohli also named his favourite location he is most excited to play during the World Cup at home. The former India captain stated he will feel the same way about the Wankhede as he would about any other World Cup venue.

“Personally, I’m looking forward to playing in Mumbai in this World Cup. It’ll be great to experience that atmosphere again. I can understand what they went through and how special it is to play home World Cup and how excited people are going to be,” Virat Kohli told ICC.

Kohli reminisced about the 2011 World Cup final, which India won by a margin of six wickets against Sri Lanka at Mumbai’s venerable Wankhede Stadium. Before being taken out by a spectacular catch by Tilakaratne Dilshan, Kohli had hit four fours in 35 off 49 balls.

“I was quite young then. I saw what it meant to the seniors. I can understand what they went through and how special it is to play a home world cup and how excited they are going to be,” Kohli added.

The much-awaited encounter between India and Pakistan will take place at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday, October 15 and will be the eighth meeting between the two sides at a men’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, Pakistan great Wasim Akram believes his former side has enough quality in their ranks to be a major player at this year’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.

Wasim was part of the famous team that helped Pakistan claim their only World Cup title at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 1992, and the legendary pacer thinks a second trophy can be clinched if their best players can remain fit and in form. Pakistan is led by the No.1-ranked ODI batter in Babar Azam and have an experienced group of players to support him.

ICC on Tuesday announced the schedule of the One Day international (ODI) of the World Cup, with the first match to be played between England and New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on October 5.

India and Pakistan will square off at the same venue on October 15, the ICC announced.

The final will also be played at the same venue.

Mohammad Rizwan, Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman will be among the key batters, while Pakistan can turn to a pace attack that includes Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah.

All the ingredients are there for Pakistan to be among the favourites to claim a second World Cup title this year and Wasim expects the conditions that teams will face in India during the tournament will also favour his former side.

“We have a good side…a very good one-day side and are led by one of the modern-day greats in Babar Azam,” Wasim Akram told the ICC.

“As long as they are fit and as long as they play according to the plan, they will have a chance of doing well in that World Cup because it is played in our type of conditions in India on the sub-continent,” the former Pakistan captain said.

Pakistan won five of their nine matches at the most recent edition of the 50-over World Cup, but narrowly missed out on qualifying for the semi-finals of the 2019 event due to inferior net run rate.

Their form since that tournament has been excellent, with Babar’s side having lost just nine 50-over contests since then to currently be ranked second on the ODI team rankings.

Babar has been a model of consistency during that strong run, with the right-hander having scored eight of his 18 ODI centuries since the 2019 tournament to maintain his stranglehold on the premier position in the ODI batter rankings.

Wasim is a massive fan of Babar and would not be surprised to see the inspirational Pakistan skipper raise his game even further during the World Cup.

“I think he can (get better) as he is the best player we have,” Wasim noted.

“The whole country follows him, everything he does. He gets people into the stadium and it doesn’t matter whether it is T20, one-dayers or Test cricket and, in my opinion, he has the most beautiful cover drive in the world.”

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