World Cup 2019 is just a few days away. And every team is focussed on winning the trophy. Pakistan are already in the middle of an ODI series in England. Other teams are also getting ready to board the World Cup bus and give a charge at the trophy. So, which team is best prepared to win the World Cup trophy? Let’s have a look.
Australia have found some form going into the World Cup. They defeated India 3-2 in the ODI series in the latter’s den after being 0-2 down. Then, they blanked out Pakistan 5-0 in the ODI series. They are boosted by the return of Steve Smith and David Warner who had a good run with the bat in the recently concluded IPL. They are also the defending champions and are known to raise their game in big tournaments. Australia will be one of the favourites for the title and should qualify for semis without much ado.
The last two World Cups have been worn by the host country. And hosts England would not start favourites just because of that. They are the current No 1 ODI team in the world and boasts of match-winners across all departments. Playing at home will give them an added advantage to go all the way. However, England must be wary about complacency as they are known to choke in ICC tournaments. They have lost three finals in 50-overs World Cup. But they should make it to the last four.
India’s World Cup selection has been marred with controversy as they have excluded Ambati Rayudu and star batsman Rishabh Pant over Vijay Shankar and Dinesh Karthik. Will the move pay off? It’s debatable. But India are too good a limited-overs team to not make it to the semifinal at least. They have a leader who takes pride in leading from the front. They have experience in MS Dhoni and one of the best pace bowling line-ups in the tournament. But their middle-order continues to be shaky and can be their Achilles heel in their quest for third WC title.
South Africa are known to be perennial chokers in multi-nation tournaments. But they are a consistent side boasting of quality firepower in both batting and bowling. Faf du Plessis, K Rabada, Imran Tahir, Quinton de Kock are coming off a successful IPL campaign. And they will be ready to break their semis jinx and qualify for their maiden final. But that’s easier said than done. South Africa need to raise their game in crucial knockout phases and avoid a repeat of their choking spree.
Pakistan are on a roll, but on a losing spree. They were blanked out 5-0 by Australia in the ODI series recently and are staring at another ODI series loss against England. But they are a highly unpredictable side. Remember, they came from nowhere to win the 2017 Champions Trophy. Pakistan lift their game when their backs are against the wall. Pakistan tend to peak at the business end of the tournament and find players who become match-winners overnight. Take Pakistan lightly at your own peril.
West Indies may have fallen from grace in Test cricket. But their competitiveness in limited-overs cricket is second to none. Although they like T20 cricket more than ODIs, they cannot be ruled out from the 50-overs cricket as well. The return to form of Chris Gayle spells doom for the opposition. Andre Russell, the man of the tournament in IPL 2019, will be raring to have a go in the World Cup. It’s the West Indians that make cricket exciting. And their cricket will be keenly watched by fans all over the world.
New Zealand have always been the case of ‘so near, yet so far’ in World Cups. They have never realised their true potential and have always underperformed. They had a good World Cup in 2015 when they ended runner-up. They will be able to punch above their waist and play party poopers. But if NZ work as a team, there’s no reason they cannot make it to semis at least.
Sri Lanka’s fall in international cricket has been obvious. They have not yet found suitable replacements for their retired legends. And it has been a struggle since. They can spring a surprise or two, but expecting them to qualify for knockout will be too much.
Afghanistan have been the most improved team in the past few seasons amongst all the teams in the 2019 World Cup. They qualified for World Cup, after beating WI in Qualifiers. They have a world-class spinner in Rashid Khan. But it would not be enough. However, they will be competitive enough to give top teams a scare in the World Cup.
Likely teams for semis: India, Australia, England, South Africa