Sydney, Feb 12: Legendary cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Ian Chappell tipped India as favourites in their much anticipated World Cup clash against Pakistan, saying that past history and better acclimatisation to Australian conditions could tilt the balance in favour of the defending champions.
India have beaten Pakistan in all the cricket World Cup matches - in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2011. Both Gavaskar and Chappell said that Pakistan are unlikely to break their World Cup jinx this time also, although both sides go into the showpiece event as struggling teams. (List of commentators)
"Both teams are going into the World Cup not in great touch. Pakistan are also struggling as they had lost to New Zealand recently, it could be even stevens. But I think India will start as slight favourites because of their past records," Gavaskar said. (India's schedule in IST)
He said the absence of off-spinner Saeed Ajmal in the Pakistan squad due to suspect bowling action - though he was later cleared by the ICC - will have a huge impact on the 1992 champions.
"Without a doubt, Ajmal was half the Pakistan side and they will be hit hard without him. He is a wicket-taking and a containing bowler. He is just like Muttiah Muralitharan in his prime days in the Sri Lankan side," the former Indian captain told NDTV.
Chappell agreed with Gavaskar and said India will start as favourites as the defending champions have acclimatised to the conditions better than the Pakistanis as they have playing in Australia for the past two months. He also said the current Pakistani side lacked match-winners.
"They (Pakistan) won the World Cup in 1992 but at that time they had so many match-winners in Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq. They don't have those match-winners in the current team. The loss of Junaid Khan is also a big blow for them," he said.
"India have been playing in Australia for the past two months and they have acclimatised more to the conditions than the Pakistanis. Moreover, India played really well in the Tests against Australia in Adelaide. They even had a chance to win the Test and lost it in the last hour. So, taking all these into consideration, India start as favourites," said the former Australia captain.