Well the World Cup’19 will kickstart officially in few days and this is one of the very World Cup campaigns over the last 3 decades where you can’t call any team as Minnows. Afghanistan has two of the best spinners in the world, Bangladesh has risen to be one of the promising teams in the last 5 years, Ireland always manages to shock you with their batting while West Indies have some wonderful inclusions in Gayle, Pollard, Hetmyer and Evin lewis who all are game changers in their capacities. Hence let’s make a short and quick preview on what to expect from each teams before the World Cup begins.
Any sane person will not count Afghanistan team as minnows. They have Rashid Khan who is at present world’s no.1 spinner, they have Mohamad Shahzad who is an explosive batsman who can take on any bowlers with his power hitting, they have Mujeeb ur Rahman who is another class act with the ball and they have big hitters in Hazratullah and Mohamad Nabi. Nabi being effective both with the bat as well as with the ball.
Yes, not saying, they may win the World Cup but they are definitely going to make a few upsets which will really prove to be irritating for the powerful teams.
Squad-Gulbadin Naib (capt), Aftab Alam, Asghar Afghan, Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shinwari.
With Smith and Warner coming back to the team, it’s like adding a powerbooster into the playing XI as both these players hold a very important place for Australia. Both the batsman can single handedly chase down the totals on their day and if Finch gets going with the consistent Khwaja, then Australia can become a very dangerous side. Add to it, they have fast bowler like Starc and all rounders like Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell who are bigtime gamechangers. Also the way Smith smashed that 116 in the warm up is anything to go by, then big teams like India, England and New Zealand will have to be prepared for the Kangaroos.
Squad-Aaron Finch (capt), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
Always fun to play against the tigers, they have the young blood full of fire and passion with the right blend of experience. Skipper Mortaza being an experienced player will lead the pace attack with Mustafizur while the old horses like Shakibul Hasan who is one of the best all-rounders in ICC rankings will play a crucial role too. Apart from that, they have game changers in Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim who have proven track records.
Again, not the team which are favorites, but they can give you surprises here and there and disturb the point tables of the bigger teams just like how they spoiled India’s 2007 world cup dreams.
Squad-Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Abu Jayed, Liton Das (wk), Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Mithun (wk), Mohammad Saifuddin, Mosaddek Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal.
At present, on paper, England are the clear favorites, they have got world class batsman who are also in-form, it’s their home ground where they are batting exceptionally well, they have tailormade pitches which will assist their fast bowlers and they have good fielding too. Skipper Morgan is always reliable like a tank, Archer is really bowling viciously generating swing and seam, Root, Bairstow and Buttler are at their peaks when it comes to batting while all-rounders Sam Curran & Moeen Ali are the X-factors who will be the impact players for the overseas teams.
Definitely, England look favorites for the World Cup and their name in the top 4 is an obvious inclusion. Still you can’t say though! Anything changes in cricket anytime.
Squad-Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Photo by Prakash Parsekar
When all the other teams had reached England and started practicing, our very own Kohli, Rohit and Dhoni were vacationing with their wives while Pandya was busy in his family’s function. Well India enter the World Cup as favorites for many but the current Indian team has struggled on foreign wickets. Our last tour to England was a testimony that we were not able to dodge the pace, swing, seam and bounce of the England bowlers. Not only England but even Aus, NZ & SA bowlers will trouble Indians a lot as most of our batsman find it difficult to get going vs Eng, NZ and SA pacers. If our warm up game against NZ is anything to go by, it would be foolish to be over confident and say India are favorites for World Cup. Bowlers like Sam Curran, Starc, Boult, Amir, Wahab Riaz, Mustafizur, Archer and many more will make life difficult for the top order. Also Dhawan and Sharma are going to have a hard time against left-arm pacers as both of them have a record of struggling vs left arm pacers.
Even apart from that, the only strong point is Kohli and if his wicket is taken early, India can struggle a lot. Dhoni as it has been since past few years takes quite a time to settle while Pandya and Jadeja are looking good but it would be too early to call them dependable batsman. Yes, one thing is for sure, Pandya is going to play some good knocks in the tournament because the way he was playing in the warm up game vs NZ, it was impressive. Also he has played well in England earlier and his fearless approach can actually be helpful for him to score runs. The bowling department apart from Bumrah doesn’t look polished either, yes we have good bowlers but it will be a matter of time before we can say that we got the best bowling line up!
Squad-Virat Kohli (capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav.
New Zealand has one of the most reliable batting line up in Taylor, Williamson and Guptill while they also have big hitters in Grandhomme & Latham. The bowling department also looks good with the experienced pace duo of Southee and Boult which is a deadly pair on English tracks.
They definitely look good for the Top 4 spots and no game vs NZ will be won easily by any opposition.
Squad-Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
Definitely not the most powerful team out of the 10 teams but the batting looks good with the experienced Malik and Mohamad Hafeez into the playing XI. Also Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Imam Ul Haq are all promising batsman but yet to prove their worth vs the powerful teams. The bowling department also looks sorted with Amir, Riaz, Shaheen making the pace trio but still they will be tested and most of the boys have not played too many games on English tracks vs the big teams. So it’s too early to even add them in Quarter final favorites. But again, it’s going to be fun seeing their young blood fire it up under the guidance of Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmend and Hafeez.
Squad-Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz.
Africa will be a very difficult team to beat in the World Cup. They have the most dangerous bowling line up consisting of Rabada, Steyn and Ngidi which can make any batsman nervous. Their batting also looks good with clean hitter Miller, prolific Amla, skipper Du Plessis, De Kock and the experienced Duminy in the playing XI. SA is definitely in the league of England and Aus when it comes to the difficulty level in beating them and they will be one team to look out for.
Squad-Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Rassie van der Dussen.
Many people who are not cricket’s ardent lovers or the ones who miss out on in depth knowledge may call Afghanistan and Ireland as minnows. But to everyone’s surprise, the weakest team in World Cup’19 is Sri Lanka. Yes the once most powerful, a country which has won the world cup earlier are going through major crisis. Apart from Malinga, Angelo Matthews and Thisara Perrera, the entire squad lacks experience, they have been beaten in the last few years by almost all the teams even on their home ground, the bowling doesn’t look that dangerous while they lack batsman who can be consistent throughout the tournament. Forget about all the players, you can make out Sri Lanka’s crisis and their situation at present by looking at their captain Dimuth who averages 20 with the bat with only 18 ODI’s to his name. Dimuth was directly made the captain of Sri Lanka despite being out of the team for 4 years!
To be honest, you can’t expect much from this current Sri Lankan side but yes if they perform well, it would be a welcome change and we would be happy if they shut their critics down.
Squad-Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Avishka Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Mendis (wk), Kusal Perera (wk), Thisara Perera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhananjaya de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay.
West Indies is again going to be one team which many had written off, and still many feel that WI team should be counted in minnows alongwith Ireland, Afg and Bangladesh.
But it would be a big mistake if we write them off so early. They have included the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell into their squad who can change the games single handedly. They have big and clean hitters in Evin Lewis, Braithwaite, Pooran and Darren Bravo. They have got solid batsman like Hetmyer and Hope who can play big innings and not just the cameos. Their only concern is bowling even though Sheldon Cottrell has looked very impressive and so is Kemar Roach who can be express with the ball.
If West Indies team gets going, you can be assured of some really good entertainment as well as some shockers for those who have counted them to be the weak team going into the World Cup.
Squad-Jason Holder (capt), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.
By Haineel Shah