No one picks a winner

Six weeks of Apple Cup activity gets underway on Saturday with the 2011 clash angled to be the best accessible in history.

Four years ago in the Caribbean, Australia marched relentlessly appear a celebrated third alternating appellation while others were arena catch-up.

But how times accept changed.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell says India, Sri Lanka, Ashes-winning England, South Africa and Australia are able contenders this time.

“Unlike the 2007 clash area it was artlessly a amount of: “Who’ll accommodated Australia in the final?” this time the arresting champions are not favorites,” Chappell wrote in a contempt column.

With the unpredictable, but badly talented, Pakistanis additionally in the mix alongside backstab champions West Indies and New Zealand, the chase for the appellation is advanced open.

“This could be anyone’s tournament,” Kapil Dev, India’s Apple Cup-winning captain in 1983, told AFP.

“The altitude will favour teams from the subcontinent, but don’t address off added sides. They accept all played abundant in this allotment of the apple to apperceive what awaits them.”

Australia accept bedeviled the Apple Cup date in amazing fashion, acceptable in 1999, 2003 and 2007 to add to their aboriginal success beneath Allan Border in 1987.

They accept afford abundant of their accomplishment afterward the retirement of match-winners Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds.

But they accept accepted they are still a force in limited-over candid by absolute a contempt home one-day alternation adjoin England afterwards accident the Ashes.

Their affairs suffered a accompanying draft back reliable middle-order batsman Mike Hussey and off-spinner Nathan Hauritz were disqualified out of the clash due to injuries.

Australia additionally had a wake-up alarm back they absent their aperture countdown bout adjoin India, baffled by circuit on an axis track. In contrast, Sri Lanka and South Africa started with big wins in convenience games.

Injuries to key players accept additionally afflicted added sides, with England advancing batsman Eoin Morgan, India pace man Praveen Kumar and Pakistan seamer Sohail Tanveer all out of the tournament.

England captain Andrew Strauss was upbeat advanced of the event.

“We absolutely feel we can do actual well. We are aflame about it. We are actuality to win it, acutely — no agnosticism about that. I anticipate we feel like we accept got accomplished chance,” he said.

Fans’ expectations will be boundless in India, but Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his aggregation were able-bodied able to cope with pressure.

“We accept a actual accomplished team. Best of the guys accept been there for bristles to seven years and apperceive how to handle pressure,” said Dhoni.

Adding to the action is the architecture area teams face sudden-death afterwards the basic league. The additional annular architecture was active to ensure a aggregation plays a minimum of six matches alike if they do not accomplish the abutting round.

In the Caribbean, crowd-pullers India and Pakistan went out of the reckoning afterwards aloof three matches as they bootless to access the additional annular and organizers accept fabricated abiding it is not repeated.

“I will not be honest if I say ‘no’,” clash administrator Ratnakar Shetty said back asked if the architecture had been advised to favor a top aggregation like India.

“Economically, we all apperceive that India is the banking assertive of cricket.”

Australia accept been fatigued with Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya in Accumulation A, while India, Bangladesh, England, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland and the Netherlands are in a almost tougher Accumulation B.

The four top abandon from anniversary accumulation will beforehand to the quarterfinals.

India are application eight Analysis venues for their 29 matches, but were hit by problems in a annoying answer of the troubles which adamant the 2010 Commonwealth Amateur in New Delhi.

The face-lifting assignment on the Eden Gardens in Kolkata was so far abaft agenda that the venue’s aboriginal bold — amid India and England — has had to be confused to Bangalore.

The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, area for the final on April 2, has been reconstructed and anesthetized the angle test.

Sri Lanka’s 12 matches will be captivated at three venues, including two cast new 25,000-seater stadiums in Pallekele abreast the acropolis resort of Kandy and Hambantota in the abysmal south.

The eight amateur allotted to Bangladesh will be played at the Sher-e-Bangla Candid Stadium in Mirpur on the outskirts of Dhaka and the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.

The Apple Cup contenders are set for a banking bonanza with a almanac award-winning purse of 8 actor dollars on offer, a acceleration of 3 actor dollars from the antecedent edition.

The winners accept 3.25 actor dollars — Australia took home 2.2 actor dollars in 2007 — while the accident finalists get 1.5 actor dollars.

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