For most of us, the WC starts on 30th May but for the teams and their managements, it started 4 years back after the conclusion of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The format for this World Cup is different and only ten teams will fight it out to claim the trophy. Each team will play every other team in a round robin fashion. The top four teams at the end of the group stage will make it to the semifinals followed by the final at Lords.
The prize money for the winning team is the highest ever which is 4 Million USD. The West Indies and Afghanistan fought their way through a 10 team qualification tournament held in 2018 and qualified for the World Cup, by securing the last two places of the marquee tournament. Zimbabwe failed to qualify for this CWC for the first time since 1983.
The last two World Cups saw an interesting pattern, wherein the host teams were able to dominate throughout the tournament (India in 2011 and Australia in 2015) and also ended up lifting the trophy. The co-hosts, Sri Lanka (2011) and New Zealand (2015) also managed to reach the finals. Following this trend, one can't help but feel England start as favourites to claim the silverware.
They have the best batting lineup among all the teams, perfectly suited for the flattish tracks on offer during the English summer. England has consistently maintained the number one ranking in ODIs since the past two years. After suffering massive setbacks in the 2011 and 2015 World Cups due to the losses against Ireland and Bangladesh the English team underwent a massive makeover.
Some major selection changes were made and they have bore fruit for England since then. The team is full of match winners and are looking very keen to win their maiden World Cup title. The timely arrival of Jofra Archer might just provide the firepower the bowling department needed. England definitely deserve the favourite tag going into this World Cup.
Moving on to the next team, the most successful team in World Cup history. The defending champions need no introduction as they have lifted the World Cup 5 times so far. No matter what, one can never write off Australia from a major ICC tournament. They always find a way to peak in World Cups. One might feel that this Aussie side is not the same as the earlier ones but don't let it mislead you. They still have the firepower and the right players to do the job for the team.
Although Australia went through their darkest phase recently due to the sandpaper saga, they seem to be back at their best after winning 8 ODI matches on the trot. The comeback of Smith, Warner, Starc and Cummins would only serve them better. Starc was the leading wicket taker in the last edition of the World Cup picking up 22 wickets at an incredible average of 10.18. He would love to repeat a similar feat this time around.
The one year ban on Smith and Warner has helped other batsmen to grow and take up responsibilities. Now that they are back it would be interesting to see if they walk right back in and if they do what changes will be made in the batting order.
India, also one of the top contenders to win the World Cup are a force to reckon with. Under the leadership of Virat Kohli and the guidance of former World Cup winning skipper M S Dhoni, the men in blue have a balanced side covering all their bases.
India boast off one of the strongest bowling attack's in this World Cup. How often has one said that for an Indian side going into a World Cup? India has performed very well in the previous two editions of the World Cup and would love to continue the trend.
It is the only team with two different types of wrist spinners, a leggie and a Chinaman. If the batting department can accomplish their plans then it will be difficult to stop this Indian side. The scenes of Dhoni hitting the winning six in the final are still fresh in our memories.
One of the most unpredictable team in ICC tournaments is Pakistan. Irrespective of their form going into the World Cup they can turn the tables anytime. With some young and enthusiastic players in their side, they can't be taken lightly either.
New Zealand have always carried the dark horses tag along. They have the potential and the resources to run deep in this tournament. They were runners up in the last edition and put on an impressive show throughout the World Cup.
West Indies have match winners of a different class among them. Players like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell can turn any match in their favour on their day. With the former having announced retirement at the end of the World Cup, he would like to give his all for the team one last time.
South Africa is one team not many people are fancying to do well. The reason being their inconsistent batting. Ever since Mr. 360, AB de Villiers has retired South Africa have found it tough to maintain consistency. As it is expected to be a high scoring tournament, the batting has to perform for the Proteas.
All in all this World Cup promises to be as enthralling as ever. Another thing to watch out for are the player vs player battles. With top class cricketers, face to face, on the pitch, fireworks are guaranteed.Published 20 May 2019, 00:16 IST