ICC World Cup 2019: South Africa, Sri Lanka captains predict World Cup winner

Praising India’s domestic structure for their rise in world cricket, Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne hoped his board would follow in BCCI’s footsteps. Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, suffered a seven-wicket loss to India here on Saturday to finish the tournament on the sixth position with three wins from nine outings. Karunaratne believed India are better placed than the other semi-finalists — England, Australia and New Zealand — to win the trophy.

“I think India has a better chance to win this World Cup, for me, from my point of view,” Karunaratne told reporters after the loss.

“And I think on that particular day if the other team can do better than the India team, they’re definitely going to win.” He praised India’s domestic structure for ensuring a continuous flow of talent.

“I think India, they have a nice structure behind the India national team. I think they have the IPL (Indian Premier League),” said Karunaratne, who took over the captaincy just before the World Cup.

“They have good domestic teams and a good season. So those are the things they will keep building, keep producing the good players. So we expect the same from our administration.” Rohit Sharma’s 94-ball 103, his fifth century of the ongoing event, set up the platform for India’s comfortable win over the Islanders.

Karunaratne urged his batsmen to take valuable lessons from Rohit, especially the way the Indian opener converts his starts into big scores.

“Every time he (Rohit) gets a start, he keeps scoring big runs. That’s what we want. He was fearless. And he knows how he’s going to get a hundred and he’s batting really well,” the Lankan skipper said of Rohit.

“He knows which bowlers he wants to take charge against and which bowlers he wants to respect. Those are the little things he mastered really well. His plan is simple, he keeps batting and batting. That’s what I want for the youngsters.

“It’s an ideal candidate to do watch, the men learn something from him, just keep batting and batting. He was very hungry for the runs. And that’s a huge thing for the youngsters,” Karunaratne added.

Lasith Malinga, 35, played his last World Cup game on Saturday and Karunaratne said the they would hope to give the pacer a better send-off when he retires from ODIs.

“We all want to give him a nice farewell, but unfortunately we couldn’t. But I think we tried really hard,” he said. “But Mali (Malinga) going to play another couple of games in Sri Lanka against Bangladesh. We’ll try to give a nice send-off at that time.”

South African captain Faf du Plessis has predicted Australia to be the firm favourites to go all the way and lift the title. However, he has also named India as one of the teams to watch out for.

“I think Australia and India have proven it time and time again,” said du Plessis after producing South Africa’s first and only century of this World Cup.

“They are teams that win big games. It’s hard to look past Australia and the success they’ve had in winning World Cups, as much as we would like to say we want to compete with that.

“The confidence that an Australian team comes into a World Cup with is just like an extra player on your team.” Du Plessis, asked to name the winner of this World Cup, replied: “They (Australia) would probably prefer playing against New Zealand, but I would say one of Australia or India.”

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