'We want to slowly get into our stride' - Lara

Brian Lara, the West Indies captain, has played down his team's chances of winning the tournament, suggesting instead that Australia will start off as favourites despite their recent string of defeats.

"Australia deserves favoritism, that's something the West Indies team does not want to carry," Lara told the media at Trelawny in Jamaica. "We do not want to be one of the front runners. We want to slowly get into our stride and surprise people coming to the end."

Lara felt that his side has what it takes to go all the way and win the tournament, citing instances in the recent past where West Indies challenged the bigger sides. West Indies reached the finals of two one-day tournaments last year - the DLF Cup in Malaysia and the Champions Trophy - going down to Australia on both occasions. More importantly, though, they toppled an in-form India 4-1 in the home series last year.

"I must say that a lot of the Test-playing nations have drawn very close together competitively and it's very hard to say that there is any one or two countries that's going to control the World Cup and win it," he said. "We do have the players and the standards of our cricket over the last couple of years has definitely raised and we have a team that could get to the World Cup finals and win it."

Lara attributed his side's recent successes to the presence of Clive Lloyd, the former West Indies captain, and now the team manager. Lloyd had toured with the side as an advisor during the Champions Trophy and Lara stated that Lloyd's experience as a former World Cup winning captain would continue to benefit the team.

"He's definitely got what it takes and the information we need," Lara said. "It is definitely a great advantage to have him here."

When asked about the nature of the pitches and conditions, Lara was noncommittal on what to expect, given the relaying of pitches in several venues. However, he wasn't of the opinion that high scores will be the norm, and was confident that the pitches will offer enough assistance to all types of bowlers.

"With pitches around the Caribbean there is still a uniqueness about them. Sometimes you get a bit of pace, a bit of spin but I think most importantly you've got to play good cricket and it's going to test your ability."