Flintoff backs India to retain Twenty20 World Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/f/freddie.jpg' class='caption'> Andrew Flintoff has tipped India as favourites to win the T20 World Cup and said the IPL experience will come in handy for MS Dhoni and his boys.

Updated: May 28, 2009 09:24 IST
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New Delhi:

Talismanic England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has tipped India as favourites to win the ICC World Twenty20 next month and said the Indian Premier League experience will come in handy for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's boys in their title defence.

Flintoff, who is recovering from a knee surgery early this month and could miss the T20 World Cup, told PTI from Lancashire that Australia, South Africa and England would pose a strong challenge to India in the June 5-21 event to be held in England.

"Indian players just played in a world-class competition in IPL and naturally they are the favourites (to win the T20 World Cup). Australia, South Africa and England would be strong challengers. England can spring a few surprises," he said in a telephone interview.

Flintoff defended his decision to play in the IPL in South Africa from where he sustained a cartilage tear on his right knee which put him in doubt for the World Twenty20.

"My injury was not from just one event or tournament, it was over a period of time and I think ECB should not be blamed for allowing me play in the IPL," he said when asked about the controversy in British media as to why the England board allowed Flintoff to play in the IPL.

Flintoff underwent a keyhole surgery early this month after playing three IPL matches for Chennai Super Kings and that ruled him out of the two Tests and ongoing ODI series against the West Indies at home.

The 31-year-old all-rounder hinted he might miss the Twenty20 World Cup and would be concentrating to be fit for the Ashes against Australia starting on July 8.

"I met my surgeon today and he was happy with my progress. I started light running today but it will be a bit tight (for the Twenty20 World Cup). I am hoping to be fully fit for the Ashes," he said in the interview organised to promote Barclays Premier League 'Fan of India' contest.

Flintoff spoke highly of the IPL in South Africa and said he looked forward to playing more matches for Chennai next year in India.

"IPL has become huge and I am looking forward to play in India. I want to play a bigger role for Chennai next year, hopefully play the entire tournament. I think I could have done better this year but I am looking forward to next year," said Flintoff who was bought for a whopping USD 1.55 million but managed just 62 runs and two wickets in the three matches he played.

Flintoff also believes that with IPL's success the profile of Twenty20 cricket has risen and more matches should now be allotted in international fixture.

"IPL has done wonders for Twenty20. Yeah, we should think about more Twenty20 Internationals but it is for the administrators to take the call," he added.

Flintoff, who supported Manchester City football team in the Barclays Premier League, predicted a Manchester United win in the UEFA Champions League clash tonight and said winger Wayne Rooney would be among the goals.

"I will support Man United to win the Champions League Trophy against Barcelona. I would bet for Rooney to score a goal," he said.

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