Amidst Glorious Uncertainties Lie Opportunities
Cricket is the game of glorious uncertainties and even a minnow and a non test playing nation can be a world champion, but, for that to happen, top teams have to play the poorest cricket
With days left in the 11th edition of cricket world cup 2015 (50-over-format) all the top teams and minnows have geared themselves up for the biggest carnival of cricket in Australia and New Zealand. The defending champion India meanwhile are finding it tough to get their combinations right. They are struggling with the form and fitness issues. Similarly, other teams too have their share of problems and issues. Amidst all these preparations and efforts to find a correct set of permutations and combinations, who is going to hold the cup this time is the red hot question right now. Uday India has gone deep into those permutations and combinations and brings out a special report on the chances of top teams in this edition of World Cup. Cricket is the game of glorious uncertainties and even a minnow and a non test playing nation can be a world champion, but, for that to happen, top teams have to play the poorest cricket.
India: They are the defending champion but honestly at this moment they have absolutely no clue how to defend the title. The form and fitness issues of some of the key players are giving them enough reasons to doubt their chances to save the title. Also the death bowling and poor batting in power plays add up to their worry and concern. If they are to retain the cup they have to find the right balance and the top notch needs to struck form and perform with the word go. Also India are going to start the tournament against arch rival Pakistan, hence they just can’t relax and one hopes everything will be fine once the tournament starts. Once the blue brigade finds their rhythm they’ll be tough to beat. Anyway, a place in the Semies is what they should reach and from there on it can be anybody’s game.
Pakistan: Much like India they are also struggling with the form, fitness and issues regarding suspension of players. With the recent exclusion of Mohammed Hafeez, a swashbuckling opener due to an injury Pakistan’s batting looks further down and out. Meanwhile, bowling has always been and is still their strength but with the suspension of ace spinner Saeed Ajmal the spin department too looks wobbly. But, they have some genuine quickies in their army who can dismantle any line up in the world on any given day. Also they have won their only world cup title in this continent itself. Hence, Pakistan can never be written off. And like India a semi-final birth can be theirs.
Sri Lanka: The most consistent team in ICC events, having reached the finals of World Cup thrice and managed to win in 1996, Sri Lanka are too struggling with the fitness issues. Their star performer with the bowl Lasith Malinga is currently recovering from an injury. Batting looks solid on the paper but they are heavily reliant on the top three Dilshan, Sangakara and Jayawardene. But, on their day they can do wonder. However, in alien condition they have to play excellent in the knockout stage to make it to Semis.
Australia: A horde of all-rounders along with specialist batsmen like David Warner, Aaron Finch, Bailey and Smith provides a problem of plenty albeit increasing the number of available bowling options. Stacking the playing eleven with four all-rounders sounds ideal unless it compromises the batting potential. In case of Australia, home advantage and in-form players make them a sure shot team to win the title and it will be tough for every team to beat them.
South Africa: For the umpteenth time, South Africa went into the World Cup as one of the favourite contenders. Yes, the odds of choking just like in the previous editions are still high. However, the single spectacular difference remains that they indeed look more solid this time and have only a couple of areas to take care of. Further, the over-dependence on Amla and De Villiers is riskier than it looks. But, still they are one team that everyone would like to see winning the cup this time.
New Zealand: It is one of those rarest occasions in history where the Kiwis are actual favourites to win the World Cup. Of course, the only reason is home advantage. Further, they also possess a fairly experienced batting line-up, a potent pace attack and an electric fielding unit—the stars could not have been aligned any more perfectly.
England: Uncertainty—That’s the word that describes this English team right now. Uncertain in their approach, uncertain in their strokeplay, uncertain in their line and length—Eoin Morgan’s men start their campaign as certainly not the favorites. But, still like Pakistan and Sri Lanka they too can beat any side on their day.
West Indies: If performances leading to the World Cup are anything to go by, West Indies appear to be the least equipped in handling pressure at the biggest stage. The relationship between the board and the players isn’t under any concealment with the latter advocating their support for the excluded duo of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard publicly. Such off-field tension could either initiate an amplified positive on-field result or worsen the already bad. Under the rookie skipper, Jason Holder, West Indies still do possess every ingredient of pulling off a shocker and surrendering meekly to one of the minnows in the group stage.
By Sorabh Aggarwal