Cricket World Cup Squads analysed
The 11th ICC Cricket World Cup begins on February 14, 2015, with 14 Cricket- playing nations vying for the biggest prize in the Gentleman’s Game.
Squads for all the teams have been announced and they have entered the last leg of their preparations for the World Cup, co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
Let us look at a few top contenders and assess their strengths and weakness, heading to the six-week cricketing extravaganza.
The perennial World Cup semi-finalists, Black Caps have entered the semis five times in the Cup’s 40-year history. The 2015 Squad, led by dashing Brendon McCullum, stands a good chance to go two steps better than their predecessors, and win their maiden title.
Coach Mike Hesson has probably the best batting unit in the event with McCullum, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor forming the formidable top four. Trent Boult and Tim Southee is a successful new bowler-pair, and in Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum, Black caps possess an experienced set of spinners, who are batsmen as well.
Kiwis play all their matches at home, apart from the finals and hence familiar conditions and home support will be of help.
Mahendra Singh Doni will lead the defending champions and would have to rely on his batsmen to score heavily in conditions different from the Indian Sub-Continent, if the men in blue harbour any hope of being the only Indian team to win the Championship in two successive Cricket World Cup matches.
The Mumbai pair Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, with Virat Kohli, arguably the best One Day Cricketer of the modern era, must shoulder much of the responsibility to ensure that India scores high.
Uncertainty over Captain Michael Clarke’s fitness will be a distraction to Australia, which has won the Cricket World Cup four times.
The team possesses one of the most destructive openers in David Warner, while Steven Smith and Glen Maxwell add all-around abilities. Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc will lead a fearsome bowling attack, which should thrive in home conditions.
The South African team has a record of disappointing fans at World Cup matches.
The Proteas have never made it to the finals of the Cup.
In Captain Ab de Villiers, who holds the record for the fastest One Day International century, the team has a Cricketer who can single-handedly win games.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel form an outstanding pair of fast bowlers.
While their cricketing skills are unquestionable, are they mentally ready to shrug the tag of World Cup chokers, and lay hands on the glittering trophy?
Sri Lanka is the most experienced One Day International (ODI) side at the Cricket World Cup. In Angelo Matthews, the team has a shrewd thinking all-rounder as its Captain.
Wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara and batsman Mahela Jayewardene will be playing their last World Cup, and would love to end their career winning the Cricket World Cup 2015.
Eoin Morgan is the new Captain to lead Team England, a perpetual Bridesmaid at Cricket World Cup matches. England has been in finals three times in the past years.
Worcestershire all-rounder Moen Ali should have a strong session with both bat and ball, if England is to harbour any hopes at the event.
The 1992 champions are led by 40-year-old Misbah Ul Haq, who is the third oldest player at the event. The second most experienced ODI squad competing at the Cup, Pakistan has a mercurial outfit coached by former paceman Waqar Younis.
Will the ban on best spinner Saeed Ajmal for a suspect bowling action hamper Pakistan’s chances? The coming weeks hold the answer.
The two-time champions have been more in the news for off-the-field happenings in the past few weeks than for the actual game.
Former skipper Dwayne Bravo and big-hitting Kieron Pollard are not part of the 15-man squad. Chris Gayle, currently the world’s best left-handed batsman, holds the rein of the countries Cricket World Cup fortunes.
Much is expected from the youngest member of the Test-Playing Nations Group. The team has the leading all-rounder in Shakib Al Hasan. An inexperienced bowling attack might prove to be the team’s Achilles heel in the World Cup.
The Cricket World Cup promises to be a closely contested affair. One certain winner at this event will be Cricket fans, who will get to witness the best of 50 Overs Cricket.