India favourites to retain World Cup: Tendulkar

Dubai, Oct 2 (IANS) With exactly 500 days to go before the first ball is bowled in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, batting wizard Sachin Tendulkar has predicted that the trophy will remain in the subcontinent and India are favourites to retain the title.

Tendulkar, who along with Pakistan's Javed Miandad is the only player to play in six World Cups, hoped that if Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side successfully defended the title, then it will once again provide tremendous joy to the nation while making it only the third country after the West Indies and Australia to win back-to-back titles.

"Along with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also good sides," said the champion batsman, adding: "I am partial towards India and want them to do well. That would be really exciting. It will give so much happiness to the entire nation.

"That is something I would want, along with a billion plus people who will also be expecting the same thing to happen," Tendulkar said in an ICC release Wednesday.

The Indian icon retired from ODI cricket in December 2012 as the leading run-getter with 18,426 runs. Tendulkar had a lion's share in India's historic victory in Mumbai in April, 2011 when he finished as his side's top scorer with 482 runs from nine matches.

India, which leads the Reliance ICC ODI rankings table by a distance, has been drawn in Pool B and will open its campaign against Pakistan in Adelaide Feb 15.

Tendulkar, who is also the highest run-getter in the history of ICC Cricket World Cup with 2,278 runs from 45 matches (1,195 runs more than Miandad), hoped India players will quickly adjust to the conditions in Australia and New Zealand.

"Well I think most of our guys have been to Australia. They know what to expect, (as) they have played there already,'' said Tendulkar who was part of the squad that toured Australia in 2011-12.

In the lead up to the mega event, India will again be in Australia for a four-Test series. This will be followed by a tri-series also featuring England, apart from the host.

More than Australia, Tendulkar's worry was about adjusting to New Zealand conditions.

Recalling India's 1992 World Cup match against New Zealand, Tendulkar said: "I remember our match in Dunedin, where it was extremely cold and windy. Whenever a batsman hit the ball with the wind, it would travel 10 yards further, but when we had to play against the wind, the ball travelled 10 yards less.

"As there is a tour to New Zealand planned in early 2014, it should give them good exposure to the conditions there."

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