India, South Africa big challengers to Australia in World Cup: Ian Chappell

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Melbourne, Jan 18: Not too pleased with a couple of selection decisions in the Australian squad for the ICC World Cup, former captain Ian Chappell said the home side will find its toughest competition in India and South Africa during the marquee event starting February 14.

World Cup schedule; All 14 squads

"Australia's biggest challenges will come from South Africa and India, with New Zealand a dark horse under the aggressive leadership of Brendon McCullum," Chappell wrote in his column for 'The Daily Telegraph'.

India, South Africa big challengers to Australia in World Cup: Ian Chappell

"Australia is superior to all but India's powerful line-up in batting and the pace bowling is the equal of South Africa's talented triumvirate and better than the rest. Its fielding, which will be important on Australia's bigger grounds, is athletic and includes some strong arms," he explained.

Chappell said spin bowling remains a concern for the Australians, who decided not to include a specialist leg-spinner for the mega-event. "I only have two quibbles with the chosen World Cup squad of 15: the non-selection of a leg-spinner and Steve Smith not being vice-captain to take over in a situation where Michael Clarke doesn't make the fitness deadline," Chappell said.

"The one area where Australia can be bettered is in spin bowling. As the summer heats up and the pitches are subjected to more wear and tear, this may become a factor and Australia's Achilles heel against spin is its biggest concern going into this World Cup," he said.

Chappell said the selectors should have also given the captaincy to newly-appointed Test skipper Steve Smith. "George Bailey doesn't make Australia's best side, which means if Clarke breaks down during a game then (Test captain Steve) Smith will take over the captaincy. Why wouldn't Smith then remain as captain of the side in Clarke's continued absence?

"By choosing Bailey, the selectors may create a situation where, during the World Cup campaign, the captaincy could resemble a game of musical chairs," he opined.

Speaking about the other members of the team, Chappell said in-form opener David Warner gives the side a distinct edge over other teams.

"Warner is a big reason why Australia is one of the favourites for the World Cup, as he heads a powerful batting line-up that will test the nerve of even the strongest bowling attack. Australia is rightfully a favourite for the World Cup on the back of its powerful stroke making and a strong and varied pace bowling attack," he said.

PTI

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