Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Know Your 14 World Cup Teams

The 10th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup is probably the most open tournament in a long time and the time is just appropriate to have a sneak preview of the 14 teams that will be vying for top honors from 19th February to 2nd April 2011.


Australia: Just when they were being written down after the Ashes debacle they struck back with a vengeance in the ODI series and stamped their class and authority hence making the statement that of a defending world champion. If their tally of world cup trophies ascends from four to five in this edition then consider it as no miracle. Seasoned campaigner Ricky Ponting has a few points to prove and will be hungrier than ever before considering this will be his last world cup. The batting looks rock solid and if a fit Mike Hussey makes it to the sub continent then along with Michael Clarke will form the core of their lineup. Cameron White has enough exposure in the prevailing conditions courtesy his IPL stint to deliver some lusty blows during the death overs. Brett Lee’s experience and Doug Bollinger’s penchant for swing bowling make their attack lethal. Mitchell Johnson and John Hastings, still a relatively unknown component in the international circuit can tie up loose ends when demanded. Though their spin department looks fragile on paper expect them to rise to the occasion.
*Squad: Ricky Ponting ©, Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin (wk), John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Cameron White
Young talent to watch out for: Doug Bollinger
Cup chances: 9/10
World cup track record (1975-2007): Played – 69, Won – 51, Lost – 17, Tied – 1
Best world cup performance: Champions in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007
Last ODI performance: Beat England 6-1 in the 7 match home series

Pakistan: Their decorum of cricket defies any logic and makes them look like a club side but their unpredictability and their ability to not be affected by innumerous controversies make them one of the most feared team in world cricket. Their secret formula might not be ideal for an onlooker but that’s how they play their game. Barring any madness a quarter final berth is rest assured and as Harsha Bhogle pointed out in the near home conditions three more brilliant days of cricket is much within their capability. Opener Mohammed Hafeez will look to set up a platform before Younis Khan and Mishbah-Ul-Haq showcase their craft in the middle overs and the exploits of Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi are well archived. In Umar Gul, Shoaib Akthar and Sohail Tanvir they have a world class pace attack but much will depend on how Saeed Ajmal and the skipper deliver their quota 20 overs between them.
*Squad: Shahid Afridi ©, Mishbah-Ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammed Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal (wk), Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Younis Khan
Young talent to watch out for: Umar Akmal
Cup chances: 7/10
World cup track record (1975-2007): Played -56, Won -30, Lost -24, No Result - 2
Best world cup performance: Champions in 1992
Last ODI performance: Beat New Zealand 3-2 in the 6 match away series

New Zealand: Their cricket has distorted in the recent past . Having lost all their nine one day matches in the sub continent this season and then going down to Pakistan in the home series is not an ideal way to prepare for a big tournament and once again they come into it as the dark horse. Statistics does not justify Daniel Vettori’s influence as a captain and player; slightly more promising resources would have portrayed a different picture. With 3 centuries in 99 matches Ross Taylor continues to deceive the audience. Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum are not to be relied upon to hold the innings together and Scott Styris is ageing. Jacob Oram is carrying an injury and all that the Kiwis are left with are Martin Guptill and James Franklin. The bowling at best will do a marvelous job in containing the opposition but that is not a front line strategy in Asian conditions. Ironically John Wright’s Indian experience might be their biggest go for weapon in the campaign.
*Squad: Daniel Vettori ©, Hamish Bennett, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum (wk), Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock
Young talent to watch out for: Kane Williamson
Cup chances: 4/10
World Cup track record (1975-2007): Played -62, Won -35, Lost -26, No Result - 1
Best world cup performance: Semi finalists in 1992, 1999, 2007
Last ODI performance: Lost to Pakistan 2-3 in the 6 match home series

Sri Lanka: Ever since 1996 they have come to every world cup as a competitive side and have not disappointed either with their overall standing. Playing with a spin packed attack in front of a noisy home crowd has been their biggest strength. They will be playing 5 of their league matches and in all probability the knock out matches in the familiarity zone and that makes them a dangerous team. In between Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan they have an experience of 22774 runs and 808 matches hence making their batting one of the most formidable in the cup. Muralitharan’s experience combined with Lasith Malinga’s awkwardness and Nuwan Kulasekara’s economy gives their bowling the required bite.
*Squad: Kumar Sangakkara ©, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Rangana Herath, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Matthews, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralithan, Thisara Perera, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Upul Tharanga
Young talent to watch out for: Angelo Matthews
Cup chances: 8/10
World Cup track record (1975-2007): Played -57, Won -25, Lost -30, Tied – 1, No Result - 1
Best world cup performance: Champions in 1996
Last ODI performance: Beat West Indies 2-0 in the 3 match home series

Zimbabwe: A lot of hard work has gone in the recent past to revive their cricket but there is still some time before they make amends for all that they have lost in the last decade. Their squad of 1999 world cup had some amazing players who on their day turned the heat on the opposition but today the scenes have changed drastically. However the format of this edition gives them a ray of hope to make it to the quarter final if they can get past New Zealand, Canada and Kenya in the league stage. Sean Ervine’s last minute withdrawal leaves them with Charles Coventry who shared the honor of being the highest individual scorer in one day international for some time, Brendan Taylor and Tatenda Taibu. The rest of the squad have not done enough yet to earn a name at the international level.
*Squad: Elton Chigumbura©, Regis Chakabya, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Greg Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Ed Rainsford, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams
Young talent to watch out for: No one in specific
Cup chances: 2/10
World Cup track record (1983-2007): Played -45, Won -8, Lost -33, Tied – 1, No Result - 3
Best world cup performance: Super 6 in 1999 and 2003
Last ODI performance: Lose to Bangladesh 3-1 in the 5 match away series

Canada: One of the first few teams of the world cup cricket they were lost in the wilderness before making their second appearance in 2003. Their style of play has always been spirited and good to watch and John Davison’s 67 ball hundred against West Indies remains to be their moment under the sun. Like every world cup if an upset is due then Canada have the potential to stage it against Zimbabwe and New Zealand and a win against Kenya might see them in the quarter final.. John Davison and Ashish Bagai are the biggest names in a team filled with Asian expats.
*Squad: Ashish Bagai©, Rizwan Cheema, Harvir Baidwan, Balaji Rao, John Davison, Parth Desai, Tyson Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekara, Jimmy Hansra, Khurram Chohan, Nitish Kumar, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Zubin Surkari, Karl Whatham
Young talent to watch out for: No one in specific
Cup chances: 0/10
World Cup track record (1979-2007): Played -12, Won -1, Lost -11
Best world cup performance: Yet to qualify beyond league stage
Last ODI performance: Drew with Ireland 1-1 in the 2 match home series

Kenya: There is nothing left to be written about Kenya and they have failed to justify their ODI status, such disappointing has been their performances ever since they lost in the 2003 world cup semi final to India. Qualifying for the semi final was expected to be sting they needed in their armor to raise their game to the next level but all the predictions have been proven wrong for reasons beyond the cricket ground. In their debut world cup in 1996 they upset West Indies in Pune and the Odoyo brothers and Steve Tikolo will carry memories from then but this time around they are not expected to have any easy match. They might pull off a win against Zimbabwe and Canada but that won’t affect the points table.
*Squad: Jimmy Kamande©, Tanmay Mishra, James Ngoche, Shem Ngoche, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, David Obuya (wk), Nehemiah Odhiambo, Thomas Odoyo, Peter Ongondo, Elijah Otieno, Maurice Ouma (wk), Rakep Patel, Steve Tikolo, Seren Waters
Young talent to watch out for: Tanmay Mishra
Cup chances: 0/10
World cup track record (1996-2007): Played-23, Won-6, Lost-16, No Result- 1
Best world cup performance: Semi finalist in 2003 world cup
Last ODI performance: Beat Afghanistan 2-1 in the 3 match home series


India: It is one of the best Indian teams to be coming into the world cup but lack of match practice for most of the key players might be an area of concern initially. On home conditions and current form they are clearly one of the top favorites however the huge pre event expectations and hype is what Kirsten and co have to be careful about. If the external pressure can be kept at a distance and on field focus can be the sole motto then the ultimate goal can be attained. The players have to identify themselves, rise to the occasion and take responsibility on the big match days instead of relying on their fellow mates which has usually been the case with the Indian teams in previous world cups. A smashing start by Virender Sehwag and early breakthroughs from Zaheer Khan can set the tone for others to build on it however there should be a backup plan if the duo does not come good. Do not expect Yusuf Pathan to fire in each innings but when he does, sit back and enjoy.
*Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni©(wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Piyush Chawala, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, S. Sreesanth
Young talent to watch out for: Virat Kohli
Cup chances: 8/10
World cup track record (1975-2007): Played-58, Won-32, Lost-25, No Result- 1
Best world cup performance: Champions in 1983
Last ODI performance: Lost to South Africa 2-3 in the 5 match away series

South Africa: In each of the last four editions the storyline has been common for South Africa; from potential title holders to chokers and the mystery remains unsolved. The circumstances of their departure from the tournament have always been bizarre ever since they were readmitted into international cricket. This year they come into the competition high on confidence but will be aware of history and might start their campaign cautiously. AB de Villers and JP Duminy can provide the required firepower but a lot will depend on the technically sound Hashim Amla and old warhorse Jacques Kallis to give solidarity to their innings. Rookie journeyman cricketer Imran Tahir and Johan Botha will be expected to play a key role in the subcontinent tracks but all eyes will be on Dale Steyn who is the sting of the Proteas attack and comes with a reputation of single handedly wrapping oppositions. The emergence of Wayne Parnell, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel makes South Africa one of the strongest bowling team but like always their fate depends on what is going on between their ears.
*Squad: Graeme Smith©, Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villers (wk), Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Van Wyk (wk)
Young talent to watch out for: Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Cup chances: 7/10
World cup track record (1992-2007): Played-40, Won-25, Lost-13, Tie- 2
Best world cup performance: Semi finalist in 1992, 1999
Last ODI performance: Beat India 3-2 in the 5 match home series

England: The press has written a lot of good about them and Andy Flower’s boys have delivered some outstanding performance over the last season or two. For the first time in many years they come into the world cup as one of the contenders but a lot remains to be seen on how they cope up with the conditions in the sub continent which have been their nemesis for a long time now. If they can focus on their task instead of feeling suffocated about issues beyond their control then a semi final berth will be within reach but only time can answer whether it can happen because history suggests otherwise. Graeme Smith’s rise in the rankings and James Anderson’s mastery over the new ball and Collingwood’s overall knowledge offers variety into the attack which had never been their ingredient in the past editions. However like every other team they will depend on their batsmen to fire on placid tracks. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell will be expected to build an innings around Kevin Pietersen who remains to be the big draw.
*Squad: Andrew Strauss©, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior(wk), Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy
Young talent to watch out for: Jonathan Trott
Cup chances: 7/10
World cup track record (1992-2007): Played-59, Won-36, Lost-22, No Result- 1
Best world cup performance: Semi finalist in 1992, 1999
Last ODI performance: Lost to Australia 1-6 in the 7 match away series

West Indies: Cricket teams world over use West Indies as the bench mark to measure their performance graph over years. A team that was feared by every opponent today stands at its lowest point and the format might allow them a berth in the quarter final but their competitive level does not promise anything beyond that. On paper their blend of youth and experience make them look good but on field a lot is left to be desired. It is another thing if Kieron Pollard with his IPL confidence decides to come to the party and with meaningful contribution from others a different result can be on the cards. Adrian Barath is an excellent talent but Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo will be their go to men most of the times and Sulieman Ben’s left arm spin will be entertaining to watch.
*Squad: Darren Sammy ©, Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh (wk), Sulieman Ben, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith
Young talent to watch out for: Kieron Pollard
Cup chances: 5/10
World cup track record (1975-2007): Played-57, Won-35, Lost-21, No Result- 1
Best world cup performance: Champions in 1975, 1979
Last ODI performance: Lost to Sri Lanka 0-2 in the 3 match away series

Bangladesh: Their series white wash win over New Zealand at home have earned them respect worldwide and fact that they will be playing all their league games in their backyard makes them a strong contender for the quarter final and if they flow with the rhythm then a semi final spot might not be elusive. The fanatic home crowd’s nothing to lose attitude will add extra pressure on the opponent and expect a few of them to crumble to trigger widespread celebration across the country. In their skipper Shakib Al Hassan and Abdur Razzaq they have two spinners who can choke any line up with their miserly line and length. Absence of an injured Mashrafe Mortaza and the unfulfilled promise of Mohammad Ashraful is their biggest weaklink but youngsters like Tamim Iqbal bring an element of freshness and vibrancy into the squad.
*Squad: Shakib Al Hassan ©, Tamim Iqbal, Abdur Razzak, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Naeem Islam, Nazmul Hossain, Raqibul Hassan, Rubel Hossain, Shaiful Islam, Shahriar Nafees, Suhrawadi Shuvo
Young talent to watch out for: Tamim Iqbal
Cup chances: 4/10
World cup track record (1999-2007): Played-20, Won-5, Lost-14, No Result- 1
Best world cup performance: Qualified for the super 8s in 2007
Last ODI performance: Beat Zimbabwe 3-1 in the 5 match home series

Ireland: Ireland will find the Asian conditions alien but for them it has always been about enjoying the experience. In the world beyond test status they have been making some rapid progress and to be playing in 2011 world cup is a reward for all their hard work. They have tasted a big world cup and T20 world championship victory in the past and the smell of it would still be fresh and that will keep them going in this edition. With veteran Ed Joyce, Trent Johnston and William Porterfield in their ranks there is no dearth of international exposure however for them to repeat their 2007 world cup performance they have to bank on the others to come good.
*Squad: William Porterfield ©, Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’ Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Albert var der Merwe, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (wk)
Young talent to watch out for: No one in specific
Cup chances: 0/10
World cup track record (2007-2007): Played-9, Won-2, Lost-6, No Result- 1
Best world cup performance: Yet to qualify beyond league stage
Last ODI performance: Drew with Canada 1-1 in the 2 match away series

Netherlands: In 1996 Nolan Clarke entered the record books for being the oldest world cupper at the age of 47 and that remains to be the only reason for Netherland to cheer about. Their performance at the associate level has earned them a place in the world cup but at the big stage they have still a long stride to cover. With ICC deciding to reduce the number of teams to 10 in the 2015 world cup this will be their last outing for a long time to come. Ryan ten Doeschate the current ICC associate player of the year and the first Netherlands player to bag an IPL contract will be the key entertainer along with Tom Cooper.
*Squad: Peter Borren ©, Adeel Raja, Wesley Barresi (wk), Mudasar Bukhari, Atse Buurman, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Bradley Kurger, Bernard Loots, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Szwarczynski, Ryan ten Doeschate, Berend Westdijk, Bas Zuiderent
Young talent to watch out for: No one in specific
Cup chances: 0/10
World cup track record (1996-2007): Played-14, Won-2, Lost-12,
Best world cup performance: Yet to qualify beyond league stage
Last ODI performance: Lost to Ireland 0-2 in the 2 match away series

*Few of the squads might have a few changes due to injury concerns

Sidhanta Patnaik

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