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England and India are Kevin Pietersen’s picks

Posted May 31st, 2019, 10:07 AM IST

England and India are Kevin Pietersen’s picks

London: A transformed England under Eoin Morgan and India are the favourites but “dark horses” Australia and “unpredictable” West Indies too have bright chances of lifting the ICC ODI World Cup, says Kevin Pietersen.

Asked to predict the winner, Pietersen, a former England captain, said: “India and England are probably the favourites. But the dark horses are Australia and the unpredictables are West Indies.”

The ICC World Cup began on Thursday with hosts England taking on South Africa in the opening game here.

Pietersen, who played along side Morgan in the past, heaped praise on the current skipper for transforming the current English side.

“Eoin Morgan has transformed them. I’m not surprised because I was sat on a train with him years ago, talking about the way we need to play positive cricket,” Pietersen added.

“It’s just beautiful to see the way English players are playing now. It’s something that makes me so happy, to see them fully committed to their strokes, the way they don’t fear failure, and how they are allowed to fail, the way they are backed,” he said.

Pietersen, 38, hoped England could cope up with the pressure of expectation from home fans in their bid towards maiden World Cup glory.

“I’m not so sure putting all the eggs in one basket is the smartest move. Because the common man still loves Test cricket,” he said at the official tournament opening ceremony here on Wednesday.

“I mean you guys have already said that they are winning the World Cup,” Pietersen told the assembled press.

“That’s the problem. I got back (to England) on Tuesday, and I’ve seen that England have already won the World Cup! According to you guys there is a lot of pressure and I know, as I have been part of that whole syndrome,” the former power hitter said.

Meanwhile, West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer says Chris Gayle is in the “best form” of his career and hopes his teammate reconsiders his decision to retire from one-day internationals after the Cricket World Cup.

The 39-year-old Gayle smashed 424 runs in four matches against England in a recent ODI series and averaged more than 40 in the IPL this year.

Asked why Gayle is retiring given his current form, Hetmyer says “we are all thinking that way... if he does continue, it would be fantastic for us and for world cricket. As it is, we are just hoping he pulls through for us and after the World Cup he is still there.”