Celebrated former opening batsman Virender Sehwag on Friday said India are favourites to lift the 2019 ICC World Cup to be held in England. "We are favourites to win the 2019 World Cup," Sehwag said during the launch of Boria Majumdar's book 'Eleven Gods and A Billion Indians' at the Fannatic Sports Museum. Sehwag said this Indian team under Virat Kohli has the potential to win a Test series abroad despite their 1-2 defeat in South Africa in the recently concluded Test series. "This team has the capability to win Test series outside India. We could have won the first or second Test if we played one session well with the bat," said Sehwag who is Kings XI Punjab's mentor in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). Punjab take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Saturday.
Asked if this bowling attack is the best till date, Sehwag said, "In our days, we had (Javagal) Srinath, Zaheer (Khan), (Ajit) Agarkar and Ashish (Nehra). But they rarely got to play together and when they did we reached the final in the 2003 World Cup.
"This lot is really good. They can deliver in any conditions."
India will tour Australia later this year but the hosts will be without the star power of skipper Steve Smith and opener David Warner who have been suspended for a year for the ball tampering incident. Quizzed if that would help Kohli and Co, Sehwag said, "It doesn't matter if they are there or not."
Sehwag, who won two World Cups with India, the 2007 inaugural T20 World Cup and the 2011 50-over World Cup, added that winning the 2007 World Cup was more special as India had a young team under then just-appointed skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and there were no expectations.
"I think 2007 World Cup win is the best. We won there with a young team and a new captain. Nobody expected us to win," he recalled.
On Punjab's West Indian opener Chris Gayle, who smashed a whirlwind 63-ball 104 against SunRisers Hyderabad on Thursday, Sehwag said there is no bigger entertainer than the effervescent 38-year-old who is T20 cricket's most successful batsman.
"Nobody is a greater entertainer than him," Sehwag said.
Gayle was not picked in the IPL auctions initially before Punjab decided to take T20 cricket's most successful batsman for his base price of Rs.2 crore.
Dropped for the first two games, Gayle helped Punjab beat Chennai Super Kings by notching up a 33-ball 63 before the hundred.
"That was a strategy because we had to buy other players also. He would have cost more if he was taken up in the first phase," Sehwag explained.
"He was injured last season and it is difficult to score runs. Ask any cricketer, with a back injury, it's difficult to score runs and that's what he told us also. He missed a lot of games because he had pain in his back.
"Kohli dropped him also (from Royal Challengers Bangalore). I was expecting nobody will pick him, he's of my age. If we pick him, he's good guy to do the marketing. He's fabulous with all the marketing guys, everyone loves Chris Gayle. He fits in our group also.
"We bought him for Rs 2 crore and if he wins two games, I recovered my money. Still more games to go and if he wins two more time he wins four games. He's a big asset for KXIP now," Sehwag added.