The soon-to-start World Cup is being widely considered as the most open World Cup so far. The twelfth edition will kickstart on May 30 with hosts England taking on South Africa in a mouth-watering tournament-opener. The 45-day long tournament will conclude with the final at the iconic Lord’s on July 14.
England and India are being widely considered as favourites by many while defending champions Australia are also one of the favourites. But it would not be entirely wrong to say that all the ten teams have the capability to win the coveted title. So here we take a look at just how all the teams have more or less chances of winning this World Cup.
The only team to have lost three World Cup finals, England are finally entering the World Cup as red-hot favourites. No team has won more games than them since the conclusion of the last World Cup. Since 2016, they have scored 400 or more runs in an ODI innings thrice while no other team has scored even once.
Currently the best ranked ODI side in the world, England have looked the most dangerous side in recent times. What brightens their chances even more is their incredible record at home. Since the last World Cup, they have only lost nine of 47 ODIs. With form, momentum on their side as well as the home advantage, England do have a huge chance of breaking their World Cup duck.
India have some the biggest limited-overs match winners in their side. Virat Kohli, on his day, can singlehandedly defeat any side on the world. What makes him even more dangerous is the fact that he can produce those performances on a daily basis. While no player has scored more than 7,000 ODI runs at an average of over 54, Kohli averages 59.57 and already has 41 centuries in just 219 innings.
Along with Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma give India’s top-order a formidable look. Kohli and Rohit are the world’s number one and two-ranked ODI batsmen in the world, while speedster Bumrah tops the bowling charts. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are the world’s second and third-ranked spinners at the tournament. MS Dhoni is looking sharp as ever this year and India are truly the team to beat this year.
3. South Africa:
When it comes to winning the World Cup or any other ICC tournament, one just really does not think of South Africa. The Proteas always find a way to fail in the multi-nation tournaments. But unlike the past, South Africa are not entering this year’s World Cup as clear favourites. However, they are more than capable of going all the way.
The have won 13 of their past 16 ODIs, and five series in a row. The likes of Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada have been in fine form while Hashim Amla has also found his form back with an impressive fifty in the warm-up game. England is the country where they had made a mess of the run-chase in the 1999 semifinal against Australia. Well, the Proteas have a chance to make amends for that horror show by doing well this year.
4. New Zealand:
A team which has made a habit of punching above its weight, New Zealand can be never be written off. The talks surrounding England, India and Australia have put New Zealand on the back seat but it can work in their favour. They were the runners-up in the last edition of the World Cup and can very well go all the way this year.
The New Zealand squad is brimming with talent. What enhances their chance even more is the presence of their talismanic captain Kane Williamson. Since the 2015 World Cup, he has made 2,868 runs at 47.01. Ross Taylor’s presence and present form will further boost New Zealand’s chances. Since the last World Cup, he has only been outscored by the Indian batsmen, having scored 2,892 runs at 68.85.
Australia definitely knows a thing or two about winning the World Cup. The team from Down Under has won 5 of the last eight World Cups and four of the last five. They were a bit patchy in the last few months but have found their mojo back just at the right time. In March, they beat in-form India 3-2 after losing the first two games.
The Aaron Finch-led side then whitewashed Pakistan in a five-match series before beating England in warm-up match to prove their title credentials. The likes of Finch, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh have been in good form and Australia have been boosted by the returns of David Warner and Steve Smith. Warner finished this year’s IPL as the highest run-scorer while Smith recently hit a stunning century against England in the warm-up. Australia are definitely one of the favourites to win the tournament now.
Just like the present times, Pakistan were looking out of sorts in the 2017 Champions Trophy. They had lost the first game of the tournament heavily but went on to beat the world’s best teams in the following games including India in the final to lift the title. So one just cannot write off the Men in Blue who just know how to spring surprises especially in ICC tournaments.
Pakistan’s form since the Champions Trophy triumph has been dismal. They suffered whitewashes at the hands of New Zealand, Australia and recently lost 4-0 to England after the first game was washed out. However, taking Pakistan lightly is probably the biggest mistake in this game. They have always found a way of winning games and one just cannot see why they cannot win the World Cup. The likes of Imam-ul-Haq (1238 at 61.90), Fakhar Zaman (1092 at 54.60) and Babar Azam (950 at 52.77) are in stunning form. The bowling lineup is also looking strong although the bowlers have not looked sharp in recent months. But with pitches in England set to be seamer-friendly, the likes of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and others could create havoc.
Gone are those days when Bangladesh just made up the numbers in the big tournaments. They made it to the semifinal of the 2017 Champions Trophy and the quarterfinal of the 2015 World Cup as well as the final of the Asia Cup last year where they nearly beat India. Their squad is a fine blend of youth and experience and they are just more than capable of winning the World Cup. The Tigers have won 34 of 59 completed ODIs since last World Cup.
Bangladesh’s wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim aptly pointed out why his side can win the World Cup, saying:
“It’s not impossible. It’s tough, but possible. I personally believe that we have the ability to reach the knockout stages, and anything can happen if we can reach that point.”
8. West Indies:
This is the one team that has excited the entire cricketing world. Their performance against England just a couple of months back have made many believe that the Caribbean outfit could very well go and win the competition. What boosts their chances even more is the presence of the big names who can blow away any team on a given day.
Andre Russell is entering the World Cup on the back of a stunning IPL campaign where he scored 510 runs at 56.66 and a strike rate of 204.81. Chris Gayle’s experience and explosiveness is bound to make the West Indies a strong contenders. Gayle had a phenomenal series against England where he smashed where he 424 runs at 106.00, with a strike rate of 134.17. The likes of Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and other big names definitely make West Indies the team to watch out for.
9. Sri Lanka:
While Sri Lanka will need miracles to win the World Cup, they are certainly capable of pulling off a miracle like they did in 1996 by beating the fancied Australians in the final. Just a couple of months ago, Sri Lanka beat South Africa in the Test series to show that they are still capable of being the best team on the field on their day.
As far as the team composition is concerned, the likes of Thisara Perera and Kusal Perera can do the hard-hitting while the likes of Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne can provide solidity to the batting lineup. Lasith Malinga’s presence gives the bowling an extra edge. Sri Lanka also have a stunning record in ICC tournaments in the last decade or so.
Afghanistan are the new boys in this league and are the lowest ranked team but definitely not the least talented. Their superstar Rashid Khan will lead their World Cup charge. The leg-spinner averages 15.33 and 11.56 in ODIs and T20Is respectively. Along with Rashid, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman form a very dangerous spin trio.
They have warmed up for the World Cup by beating Pakistan in their first warm-up game and very few will bet against them when the tournaments gets underway on May 30.