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2015 ICC World Cup: Probable playing XIs of top 8 teams

Indian Cricket Team

With less than 100 daysto go for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, the preparation of the 8 majorteams for the showpiece event willbein full swing in the next few weeks.While no countryis absolutely certain of their startingXIat the moment, the fact that most sidesare playing a plethora of ODI cricket in the coming weeks should help them achieve clarity in their selection sooner rather than later.Heres a look at thelikely playing XIs of the 8 majorteamsfor the World Cup:(Thisarticle is co-writtenby Shankar Narayan and Pradeep Kalamegam)

#1 India

Indian Cricket Team

India, who are the defending champions after winning the last edition on home soil, seem to be covering all bases with each passing match. Prior to the home season, death bowling seemed to be the one major worry, but with Mohammad Shami bowling very well in the end overs against West Indies recently and Umesh Yadav looking impressive against the Sri Lankans, India’s worries seems to have lessened a bit.

Yadav’s recent performances mean that he could possibly edge out Ishant Sharma for a spot in the playing XI. Rohit Sharma, after his world record knock of 264, will definitely partner Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. Ajinkya Rahane will have to slot in at number 4, unless the management decide to push Virat Kohli there.

Also, his previous experience of playing well in Australia makes him a bigger contender for a spot in the playing eleven. As far as the spinners are concerned, it looks like Jadeja and Ashwin will both be part of the playing eleven, despite Akshar Patel’s recent performances.

Likely XI

Player Role
Shikhar DhawanOpener
Rohit SharmaOpener
Virat KohliMiddle-order
Ajinkya RahaneMiddle-order
Suresh RainaMiddle-order
MS Dhoni (C)Wicket-keeper
Ravindra JadejaAll-rounder
Ravichandran AshwinAll-rounder
Bhuvneshvar KumarFast Bowler
Mohammed ShamiFast Bowler
Umesh YadavFast Bowler

Reserves

Ishant Sharma: India’s most experienced fast bowler among the current lot misses out on a spot in the eleven, owing to the fact that the Delhi pacer hasn't represented India in coloured clothing as consistently as he has done in whites.

Akshar Patel: A cricketer in the mould of Ravindra Jadeja, Akshar Patel has had a good start to his international career, but with a more experienced Jadeja already present, the chances of the 20-year-old making it to the XI in Australia & NZ does look a bit slim.

Ambati Rayudu: Despite good performances against Sri Lanka, the 29-year old misses out on a spot due to the comeback of Rohit Sharma, who had a good outing in Australia in 2008.

Varun Aaron: The fast bowler from Jharkhand has been included in the squad for the Tests, but hasn’t been a regular fixture in the ODIs due to poor form and injuries, but his pace could prove to be useful on the bouncy pitches of Australia.

#2 Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Cricket Team

The runners-up in the 2011 World Cup, Sri Lanka have a few headaches to resolve before they take the field in Australia and New Zealand. The first of those headaches start right at the top. With Tillakaratne Dilshan certain to open, Sri Lanka will have to hope that Upul Tharanga finds form sooner or later for him to partner the 37-year-old.

The middle-order looks settled with the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Matthews occupying the next three slots. The lower middle-order for the Lankans has been a cause of worry. In the limited opportunities that he has got, Lahiru Thirimanne has looked a compact batsman who can keep the scorecard ticking along.

Thisara Perera looks almost sure to bat at seven. Sachitra Senanayake, who is currently barred from bowling due to a suspect action, will, in all probability, come into the XI if cleared by then. If not, then, it does look like a two-way fight between Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis. Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and Dhammika Prasad, meanwhile, look the most likely to form a three-man pace attack.

Likely XI

Player Role
Upul TharangaOpener
Tillakaratne DilshanOpener
Kumar SangakkaraMiddle-order/ Wicket-keeper
Mahela JayawardeneMiddle-order
Angelo Mathews (C)Middle-order
Lahiru ThirimanneMiddle-order
Thisara PereraAll-rounder
Rangana HerathSpinner
Nuwan KulasekaraFast Bowler
Lasith MalingaFast Bowler
Dhammika PrasadFast Bowler

Reserves

Kusal Perera: The hard-hitting Kusal Perera hasn't shown the kind of consistency that was desired of him and hence finds himself on the bench. However, if the Lankans feel that more firepower is needed along with Dilshan at the top, then he could come in as that option.

Ajantha Mendis: The mystery spinner, who played with success in the 2011 World Cup but missed out on the final, will be hoping he can make the most of any opportunity he gets.

Dinesh Chandimal: Another option for the Lankans in the middle order is Dinesh Chandimal. The right-hander has got a solid technique, and can take up the wicket-keeping duties if needed by the Lankans.

Lahiru Gamage: The fast bowler hasn't received many opportunities but could be picked as a back-up for the other three quicks.

#3 Pakistan

Pakistan Cricket Team

The mercurial Pakistanis always been a threat when it comes to the big ICC events. Saeed Ajmal’s ban, however, could hamper their chances with his absence having had a huge psychological impact on his fellow players.

As far as the batting department is concerned, Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez, in all probability, will form the opening combination, followed by Asad Shafiq at 3.

Despite brilliant performances in Test cricket, it does seem like Pakistan have moved on from Younis Khan in the 50-over format. Misbah Ul-Haq will come in at 4, Umar Akmal at 5 and Shahid Afridi at 6. Fawad Alam will finish the lower middle-order followed by their pace battery consisting of Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Umar Gul. Saeed Ajmal will walk into the XI if his action is cleared. Else, Zulfiqar Babar will play as their lone spinner.

Likely XI

Player Role
Ahmed ShehzadOpener
Mohammad HafeezOpener
Asad ShafiqMiddle-order
Misbah-ul-Haq (C)

Middle-order

Umar AkmalWicket-keeper
Shahid AfridiAll-rounder
Fawad AlamAll-rounder
Umar GulFast Bowler
Junaid KhanFast Bowler
Saeed Ajmal/Zulfiqar BabarSpinner
Mohammad IrfanFast Bowler

Reserves

Younis Khan: The Pakistan selectors will find it hard to ignore his Test exploits, and hence, the 37-year-old could feature in the 15, if not in the eleven.

Yasir Shah: The leg-spinner, who performed impressively in the recent 2-Test series versus Australia, has played just the single ODI so far but can form a part of the reserves.

Sohaib Maqsood: The right-hander played for his country in the Asia Cup earlier this year and also featured in the ODI series vs Sri Lanka, scoring a match-winning 89 and helping his side win the game versus Sri Lanka. Despite being a little inconsistent, he could still be a good option to have in the middle-order.

Wahab Riaz: The man, who picked up 5 wickets in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup semi-final against India, finds himself out of the XI due to an already packed pace attack, but he could find himself in the 15 due to his pace and ability to reverse the ball.

#4 England

England Cricket Team

England go into the World Cup as almost no-hopers. There is no denying the fact that the English are more concerned about their performances in Test cricket as compared to the 50-over version of the game.

Despite mediocre performances with the bat in limited-overs cricket, Alastair Cook will lead England in the mega event, and, in all probability, will open the innings with the aggressive Alex Hales. Gary Ballance, in current form, looks likely to be England’s No.3 with Joe Root at 4.

The dynamic Eoin Morgan will take the No.5 slot with explosive keeper-batsman Jos Buttler coming in at 6. England have had the dilemma of whether to play Ben Stokes or Chris Woakes as their seam bowling all-rounder. In the limited opportunities that both have received, Woakes seems to be the better option to go with.

James Tredwell is a canny spinner who has featured regularly for England in the shorter formats over the last 12 months, and can expect to take his place in the XI. In the pace bowling department, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are certainties to start, injuries not being taken into account, and Chris Jordan is probably ahead in the race for the 3rd seamer.

Likely XI

Player Role
Alastair Cook (C)Opener
Alex HalesOpener
Gary BallanceMiddle-order
Joe RootMiddle-order
Eoin Morgan

Middle-order

Jos ButtlerWicket-keeper
Chris WoakesAll-rounder
Stuart BroadFast Bowler
Chris JordanFast Bowler
James TredwellSpinner
James AndersonFast Bowler

Reserves

Moeen Ali: An effective cricketer in Tests, Moeen Ali is yet to show the same kind of exploits in the shorter versions of the game. His inability to play the short ball convincingly also means that he might not find a regular place in the team on the bouncy wickets of Australia. But if Tredwell does leak a few runs in the first few matches, then the 27-year-old could come in as a replacement.

Ian Bell: One of England’s most experienced cricketers, the 32-year-old Bell hasn’t shown the same amount of consistency as he has while playing in the whites for England. However, England could bring him back into the line-up if one of the middle-order batsmen fails with the bat.

Ben Stokes: Stokes, the other seam bowling all-rounder, hasn’t been as consistent as England would’ve liked him to be. But he is a handy cricketer who can be explosive with the bat and handy with the ball.

Steven Finn: The tall right-armer featured in the ODI series vs India, but injuries have hampered his career to a great extent. However, he could hurry up batsmen with his pace, and if fit, will be part of England’s campaign in the mega event.

#5 Australia

Australian Cricket Team

Four-time World Cup champions Australia will be looking to win their 5th title in their home World Cup. The side boasts of some great names like David Warner, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, each of whom is capable of winning a game almost single-handedly.

However, the one concern for the Aussies remains the fitness of their skipper Michael Clarke, and the selectors will be hoping he will remain fit in the lead up to the tournament. As far as the bowling is concerned, Mitchell Johnson will lead the attack with Mitchell Starc and James Faulkner for company. Nathan Lyon will be Australia’s lone spinner.

Likely XI

Player Role
Aaron FinchOpener
David WarnerOpener
Shane WatsonMiddle-order
Michael Clarke (C)Middle-order
George BaileyMiddle-order
Glenn MaxwellMiddle-order
Brad HaddinWicket-keeper
James FaulknerAll-rounder
Mitchell JohnsonFast Bowler
Mitchell StarcFast Bowler
Nathan LyonSpinner

Reserves

Mitchell Marsh: The 21-year-old is expected to be the best of all young talents to watch out for in the World Cup campaign. His growing reputation and quality in batting and some runs under his belt will earn him a WC berth.

Steve Smith: The 26 -year-old has never been the first choice for Australia all these years and will remain the same.

Kane Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile will provide back-up in the fast bowling department to Johnson & co. and, considering the injury-prone nature of the Australian seamers, are likely to get some game time as the tournament progresses.

#6 West Indies

West Indies Cricket Team

They may not be considered to be among the best in the longest format of the game, but in the shorter versions of the game, the West Indies can certainly pack a punch. Containing a galaxy of stars, the team from the Caribbean islands possess several match winners, who can win matches on their own. The devastating Chris Gayle will open the batting with Dwayne Smith.

The trio of Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo will be part of the middle-order. The one advantage that they have, which most other teams don't, is the presence of three all-rounders in Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy. Ravi Rampaul and Jerome Taylor will lead the fast bowling attack, with Sunil Narine likely to be the lone spinner.

Likely XI

Player Role
Chris GayleOpener
Dwayne SmithOpener
Darren BravoMiddle-order
Marlon SamuelsMiddle-order
Denesh RamdinMiddle-order/Wicket-keeper
Dwayne Bravo (C)All-rounder
Kieron PollardAll-rounder
Darren SammyAll-rounder
Ravi RampaulFast Bowler
Sunil NarineSpinner
Jerome TaylorFast Bowler

Reserves

Andre Russell: The all-rounder can come into the side and contribute some crucial runs down the order as he has been doing in recent times. His medium-pace bowling can also come in handy for the team.

Lendl Simmons: The right-hander is expected to be the reserve opener and can contribute as a middle order batsman if required.

Kemar Roach: Kemar Roach might not make the XI from the start, but he’ll definitely have a role to play at some stage of the tournament considering the pace-friendly conditions on offer in both Australia and NZ.

Sulieman Benn: Sulieman Benn played in the recent ODI series against India after not featuring in the ODI set-up for more than 3 years, with his last appearance prior to the India series coming way back in the 2011 World Cup. But the fact that Benn did come into the side in Narine’s absence suggests that he is second in line in case something unfortunate happens to Narine.

#7 South Africa

South African Cricket Team

South Africa will once again enter into a World Cup tournament as one of the favourites to win the mega event. Like several previous editions, the Proteas possess a balanced squad with good batsmen, excellent fast bowlers and a decent spinner. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock will look to carry on their successful partnership at the top. Faf du Plessis, AB De Villiers and JP Duminy will form a dangerous looking middle order.

David Miller will walk in at 6, which could further increase the headache for opposition captains. The fast bowling will once again be led by the terrific Dale Steyn, and giving him company will be Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell. The presence of a leg-spinner like Imran Tahir could add the much-needed variety to the attack.

Likely XI

Player Role
Hashim AmlaOpener
Quinton de KockOpener/Wicket-keeper
Faf du PlessisMiddle-order
AB de Villiers (C)Middle-order
JP DuminyMiddle-order
David MillerMiddle-order
Ryan MclarenAll-rounder
Wayne ParnellFast Bowler
Dale SteynFast Bowler
Morne MorkelFast Bowler
Imran TahirSpinner

Reserves

Rilee Rossouw: The attacking left-hander doesn’t feature in the XI, but he can be utilised if the team needs a bit more impetus at the top.

Kyle Abbott: Although an effective fast bowler, it will be difficult for Kyle Abbott to make his way into South Africa’s full-strength ODI side. However, considering the quick nature of the pitches in Australia, he could come in handy at some point.

Vernon Philander: Philander might not be the quickest bowler going around, but he is a smart operator who knows how to make good use of pitches that help him and will provide able back-up to what is a potent fast bowling line-up.

Robin Peterson/Aaron Phangiso: Robin Peterson or Aaron Phangiso will most probably make up the 15-man World Cup squad, with their job primarily being to support Imran Tahir in case a pitch calls for 2 spinners to be played.

#8 New Zealand

New Zealand Cricket Team

Co-hosts New Zealand will be looking to use the home conditions to their advantage, and try to go that one step further by winning the trophy for the first time. Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, whom the batting will revolve around, will be looking to give their side good starts at the top. Ross Taylor and Brendon Mccullum will be key players in the middle order, ably followed by wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi.

New Zealand will also have the luxury of playing two all-rounders in James Neesham and Corey Anderson. Daniel Vettori’s presence in the bowling line-up, meanwhile, will give the attack not only some handy variation but also vast experience. The fast bowling unit will comprise primarily of Tim Southee and Trent Boult, with the choice of the 3rd seamer being between the experienced Kyle Mills and the ever-improving Mitchell McClenaghan.

Likely XI

Player Role
Martin GuptillOpener
Kane WilliamsonOpener
Ross TaylorMiddle-order

Brendon McCullum (C)

Middle-order
Luke RonchiMiddle-order/Wicket-keeper
James NeeshamAll-rounder
Corey AndersonAll-rounder
Daniel VettoriAll-rounder
Tim SoutheeFast bowler
Trent BoultFast Bowler
Kyle MillsFast Bowler

Reserves

Tom Latham: The left-hander has done well in recent times and might well be the reserve batsman in the side.

Jesse Ryder: The 30-year-old has been thrown a lifeline after being included in the New Zealand ‘A’ squad for their tour of UAE. However, we cannot assume anything going by that.

Mitchell McClenaghan: Mitchell McClenaghan can perhaps consider himself unfortunate to miss out on a place in the starting XI, having played regularly over the last couple of years. He does, however, make the final 15, and will get an opportunity if any of the first choice seamers are unavailable.

Nathan McCullum: While Daniel Vettori will make the final XI as the lone spinner, Nathan McCullum has been an able performer who can do as good a job as Vettori when called upon.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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