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Former England captain Ian Botham has predicted New Zealand to win the upcoming Cricket World Cup.
Botham, who played in three World Cups, says he won’t at all be surprised if the Black Caps lift the trophy at the MCG on March 28 rather than favourites Australia.
“Australia will go into it as favourites, they are playing some good cricket at the minute, but so are New Zealand and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if I’m watching Brendon McCullum lifting the trophy in six weeks’ time,” Botham wrote in The Mirror.
“The Kiwis have been everyone’s ‘dark horses’ for several World Cups and Champions Trophies. They are much more than that now. They’ve got a terrific captain, senior players who are performing, and they are joint hosts.
“There will be a bit of extra pressure, but knowing a few of them, I think they will love it.”
Botham said Australia may have peaked too early and that the “long and emotional” summer will take its toll on the co-hosts.
“Australia do look strong and they’ve got the wood over England at the moment, but this has already been a long and emotional summer for them,” Botham wrote.
“Have they gone too early? How will the injuries to James Faulkner and Michael Clarke affect their dressing room?”
In his preview, Botham predicted New Zealand to beat Australia in the World Cup final.
The World Cup begins on Friday February 13 (GMT) when New Zealand face Sri Lanka in Christchurch.