|Event:||ICC World Cup 2006/07|
DateLine: 1st March 2007
Sri Lanka's World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga said on Thursday he thought India would win the sport's biggest prize even though the 2007 tournament was wide open.
Ranatunga, who masterminded his country's successful campaign in 1996, said Rahul Dravid's India had the depth to win the World Cup starting in the Caribbean on March 13.
"I desperately want to see Sri Lanka win but I feel India has got the combination right and they've got the ability to surprise teams," Ranatunga told AFP.
"They'll probably go all the way."
The former Sri Lankan captain said India, who lost to Australia in the last World Cup final in 2003, had come a long way since then.
"India should look to finish off games," he said. "Last time they did so well in South Africa, but they panicked in the final against Australia.
"The difference with our 1996 team was that we took the biggest game of our life as yet another match of the competition and at the end we saw Australians panicking.
"I feel one of the Asian teams can do it. Pakistan are very strong too."
Ranatunga, never a favourite with Australian crowds and players after he vigorously defended Muttiah Muralitharan of chucking accusations by Australian umpires in 1995, believes Ricky Ponting's men will not win a third consecutive title.
"The Australians are bluffing," he said. "Statements that they are the world's best are not entirely true. They've got a few weak areas and teams should identify those areas and put them under pressure."
Ranatunga felt Sri Lanka needed to deliver since this could be their last chance in many years to win back the World Cup.
"This will be Sanath Jayasuriya's last World Cup and I am not sure whether guys like Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas will be around for 2011.
"Sanath and Murali are once in a lifetime players and we should do it when they are around. Otherwise it will be really tough."
Both India and Sri Lanka are drawn alongside Bangladesh and first-timers Bermuda in group B of the preliminary league, with the top two qualifying for the next round.
The final will be played in Barbados on April 28.
(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)