2019 ICC Cricket World Cup: Team Preview Part-2

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let’s look at the chances of the top five ranked sides in the biggest spectacle in cricket.

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2019 ICC Cricket World Cup: Team Preview Part-2

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In case you missed the last post, we analysed the strengths and weaknesses of half of the participating teams in the ICC Cricket World Cup. Without further ado, let’s look at the chances of the top five ranked sides in the biggest spectacle in cricket : Australia (ICC ODI Ranking: 5) Captain: Aaron Finch Coach: Justin Langer Key Player: David Warner WC Best Finish: Champions (1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015 ) Consistency is on Australia’s side. Recent series wins against India and Pakistan away from home is evidence of the resolve of the five-time world champions. The return of disgraced batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith could not have come at a better time either. The former left his devastating mark in this year’s edition of the IPL, finishing as the top run-getter at the end of the tournament. A solid pace attack boasting the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cumins is well complimented by Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa , the latter of whom will be effective on the dry surfaces in England. Though the Men from Down Under are still among the favourites , whether they will be able to click as a batting unit collectively is still a concern. With bowling being their main asset, the Aussies will look chase or defend middle-level totals.

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New Zealand (ICC ODI Ranking: 4) Captain: Kane Williamson Coach: Gary Stead Key Player: Kane Williamson WC Best Finish: Runners-up (2015 ) New Zealand has consistently reached the semi-finals since the inception of the tournament. Four years ago, they moved one step closer and reached the finals. The Black Caps have benefitted with easy initial fixtures against weaker sides like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the first two weeks, which will allow them to build momentum for tougher fixtures to follow. Overall, they do comprise of a balanced unit having a strong leader in Kane Williamson as well as the experience of Ross Taylor. The Kiwis will find themselves at home in England with favourable batting conditions. The likes of power players in the batting order like Martin Guptill , Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Nesham will instil fear in any bowling line-up. Down the order, they have the flexibility to adapt, which coupled with some gritty fielding, make them a side to take very seriously.

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South Africa (ICC ODI Ranking: 3) Captain: Faf du Plessis Coach: Ottis Gibson Key Player: Quinton de Kock WC Best Finish: Semi Finals (1992, 1999, 2007, 2015 ) It’s strange, isn’t it? A team that’s always been hailed as a force in all formats of the game just can’t seem to catch a break in the biggest stage. But if anyone can lead the Proteas to their maiden title, it’s captain Faf du Plessis. The 34-year-old admits the side isn’t as formidable as their yesteryear counterparts. The gap left by the retirement of the legendary AB de Villiers will be deeply felt as well, but the skipper believes that his unit is ready for the challenge. What the South Africans do have in their favour is arguably the best bowling line-up in the tournament. The experience of Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir, coupled with the raw pace of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi make a well-oiled bowling line-up. Their batting isn’t bad either. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock is in the form of his life, and Faf , Markram and Amla are there to steady the ship in the middle overs. South Africa has always gone into a World Cup with a strong side; this time is not any different. The question is: Can they handle the big-game pressure?

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India (ICC ODI Ranking: 2) Captain: Virat Kohli Coach: Ravi Shastri Key Player: Virat Kohli WC Best Finish: Champions (1983, 2011 ) It’s Virat Kohli’s first stint as captain in the World Cup, but one thing he has going for him is experience. The skipper has been part of two World Cup winning campaigns: the 2008 U-19 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup. Being among the best batsman in the modern game is just another feather in his cap. The problem with the Men in Blue lies with their overreliance on the top order comprising of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and the aforementioned skipper. They are equipped with the limitless experience of MS Dhoni , but how often can they call upon the former captain to rescue them from precarious situations? KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav will form the middle order, but consistency isn’t their strong suit. But bowling is whole other aspect. Buffed by the World #1 bowler Jasprit Bumrah , India has got plenty of variety on hand to compliment him. The variations of “ Kul -Cha” will come in handy in England. India’s strong suit has always been chasing totals, and we’ll probably be seeing a lot of it this month.

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England (ICC ODI Ranking: 1) Captain: Eoin Morgan Coach: Trevor Bayliss Key Player: Jos Buttler WC Best Finish: Runners-up (1979, 1987, 1992 ) This is probably the most formidable England line-up in decades. Over the years, Morgan’s side has dominated white-ball cricket and made their way up the ICC rankings to feature on the top spot. Playing on home soil and support by locals will immensely energize the hosts. England’s biggest strength is their deep and powerful batting line-up. In the recent home series against Pakistan, England recorded totals in excess of 300 runs in four consecutive ODIs. On the down side, they’re bowling was guilty of leaking huge amounts of runs in recent series. The obvious game plan would be to outscore the opposition. They’ll be relying on strong starts from openers Bairstow and Roy, with the likes of Joe Root being a solid anchor, and leave it to Morgan, Buttler and Stokes to devastate hapless bowlers in the death overs. If all goes well, England could well finish with the elusive trophy at the end of the campaign.

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