Who Wins ICC World Cup 2015?
In Less than 20 days the eleventh ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Tournament kicks off at down under simultaneously at MCG Melbourne and Hagley Oval, Christchurch. Cohosts of the tournament will play against England and Sri Lanka on day one of the tournament. Fourteen teams including four ICC Associate member countries Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and Ireland will contest in what appears to be a very wide open tournament with no clear favorites. Experts believe that any of the top eight teams Australia, SouthAfrica,India, Pakistan, New Zealand, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka have the class and quality to go all the way for lifting the prestigious trophy at MCG. Teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and even Afghanistan or Ireland may turn the table on any of the favorites. The team that plays good positive cricket consistently will have better opportunity. But who knows what AB divilliers, Chris Gayle, Glen Maxwell, Corey Anderson, Warner , Kohli , Dilshan will deliver in the centre stage? Who knows how Dayle Steyn, Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Steve Finn pulverize the opponent batsmen? Few think on home condition Australia and New Zealand may have their nose in front. But that advantage may be offset by a bit of time that England, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa spent in the region. Top quality cricketers do not take long to adjust with the conditions.
The teams at pool level will play against each other and four of the seven teams from each group will advance to quarter finals stage.
Group A Preview:
It goes without saying that domestic conditions, environment and present very dynamic players of home teams Australia and New Zealand advantages them in the group. Australia has many potential match winning individuals (Warner, Maxwell, Smith, Johnson, and Starc). Similarly the present Kiwis has some movers and shakers (Williamson, Anderson, McCuulam, Taylor) .Some very high quality all-time greats of Sri Lankan Cricket (Sangrakkara, Jayawardene, Dilshan, and Malinga) put them among the favorites. Engalnd have seasoned professionals (Bell, Morgan, Broad,and Anderson) and some budding talents of exciting prospects.
In business as usual preview analysts will put Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Engalnd to advance from the group. But world cricket must not forget that there is a team called Team Tigers – Bangladesh in the group which on their day is more than capable of turning table on the favorites. Bangladesh with some world class performers like ICC number one all-rounder across all formats Sakib al Hasan, dashing opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, little dynamo Mushfiqur Rahman , never say die Mashrafee , budding talents Taskin Ahmed may create sensation . We like to put the tag of dark horse on Bangladesh in the group. The two ICC associates Afghanistan and Scotland may be toddlers among the big fish though Afghans may cause some scares for some teams in the tournament.
Australia: Aaron Flinch, David Warner , Shane Watson, Michael Clark, Steven Smith, George Bailey, Mitchell Marsh, Glen Maxwell, Brad Haddin , James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc , Josh Hazelwood, Xavier Doherty and Pat Cummins.
Australia has won four of the past ten world cup tournaments and is also considered a firm favorite for 2015 as well. There is no denial that this team is not of the same quality and class of 1999, 2003 and 2007 but it still has some very high quality talented cricketers who are capable even individually of winning any ODI match. Moreover, playing on the home conditions in Australia and not very unknown on Tasman neighbors backyards at New Zealand. Blaster David Warner and dynamic Aaron Flinch combine into a very aggressive opening partnership. Shane Watson at number gives the team the required stability. One of the major worry for Australia is the fitness of Michael Clark (one of the main stay in Australian batting) . He has to prove his fitness beyond question by the second match against Bangladesh at Brisbane or gets replaced. A full fit Clark will definitely give strength and experience in Australian batting. But even his absence at the present stage of Australian cricket may not make much of a difference. Young Australian sensation Steven Smith has emerged as a mover and shaker in Australian cricket in all formats of the game. Batting at four or five he will trigger the button of the speed gun. He is equally effective with orthodox and his own invention unorthodox strokes. George Bailey the probable Captain in the possible absence of Clark is also a high quality stroke maker who can maintain the momentum of the batting. Australia is blessed with x-Factor impact of Glen Maxwell who can turn the tide of the match with his explosive striking. Then they have a person called James Faulkner, one of the top finisher of world cricket at this moment in limited version of game. He is also a blooming all-rounder. The late middle order and tail of Australia is perhaps the strongest at the moment with Haddin, Mitch Marsh, Mitch Johnson and Mitch Starc. As far as batting in ODI is concerned Australia at this moment has the bounty of brilliance.
On Australian wickets Mithchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazzlewood and Pat Cummins make the most formidable new ball attack. No team other than South Africa can match this combination at this moment. Their backups are Shane Watson, James Faulkner and Mitch Marsh can walk into any other team at this moment. The spin attack appears the only chink in the Aussie arm now. Glen Maxwell and Xavier Doherty are definitely not among the top. If for any reason the new ball bowlers fail to strike early blows Australia may have to confront reverse from major opponents. Australia will miss the service of a genuine leg spinner.
Australia at this moment is among the top fielding side. On the average Australian fielders save 25-30 runs in every match. Against Australia any team will have to score at least 30 runs more for a cushion.
In my analysis and observation Australia will go all the way to MCG and may achieve a new milestone of a penta (winning the cup a record five times). In the group stage Sri Lanka and New Zealand may be only team that may create contest in usual circumstances. Otherwise they will top the group and advance smoothly to business session.
(To be continued)