Reigning Champion Australia, strong India and Host England are tipped to feature among the top four in consideration of the depth, diversity of all round resources, experience of performing consistently well at top level. But forecasts and predictions often prove wrong in cricket.
New Zealand, South Africa, Bangladesh and West Indies may also surprise many. Any of these four or even two of these may also move into top at the cost of one or two of the top three. But for qualifications in the semi finals a team has to produce consistently well winning at least six of the nine games. One must also not rule out Sri Lanka and Afghanistan all together. They may also cause some surprises. Sri Lanka won the championship once and featured in the finals two more times. South Africa plays well in every world cup to a certain period but prove choker in pressure cooker situation.
West was incomparable giant in the first two editions and was cruising in the third. But since India surprised them in the final at Lords in 1983 West Indies cricket dipped deep. Bangladesh played wonderful cricket over the past four years. They possess five international quality experienced players and some bright young aggressive players. In 2015 they moved into quarter finals. Afghanistan possesses three match winning high quality spinners who will choke opposition batsmen. If they can bat reasonable well scoring 280 plus runs they would shock few teams.
Bangladesh Is Dark Horse Of the Tournament:
In 2018 and 2019 Bangladesh winning percentage in bilateral ODI series and international tournament is the highest. After their success in 2015 world cup they won ODI series against Pakistan, India, West Indies, Zimbabwe and West Indies. They won ODI matches against England and Australia. In 2011 and 2015 World Cup they beat England. In Mashrafe, Tamim, Shakib, Mushfique and Mahmudullah they have 5 top quality experienced players who can drive the team deep in the tournament. Mustafiz is a mystery bowler, Mashrafe has uncanny habit of taking wickets, Rubel bowls well in big events. Shakib is number one all rounder in ODI cricket. Soumya, Mithun, Miraj, Sabbir, Mosaddek, Saifuddin are bright young players. The only concern may be consistency of the team. They would play their first three matches against South Africa, New Zealand and England. If they manage winning two of the three they would force their way into top four. The only time they played World Cup in England they upset Pakistan. We would consider Bangladesh as the dark horse of tournament. The golden generation of Bangladesh cricket possess enough to make the nation proud.
Bangladesh appears to have adjusted well in English condition. They have blown away Ireland and West Indies in Tri Nation series serving strong warning to all other teams. On their day they can put any other team into test with strong batting and diverse bowling resources.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Liton K Das, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mohammad Mithun, Mosaddek Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mohammad Saifuddin, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Abu Jayed Rahi.
Pakistan Is As Uncertain As Cricket Itself:
No crickets dare to predict about Pakistan. When they play well they grind and rush opposition into pulp .Other day they crumble like cookies. They are the holders of Champions trophy which they won crushing their arch rivals India in the final. They have very strong bowling attack and a bunch of experienced and young batsmen. In recent times they were outgunned by England in England and Australia in their adopted home in UAE. But they play well in World event in England as they have bowlers who excel in English condition. They were in the final last time World Cup was played in England. There will be no surprise if they qualify for the semi finals.
In Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq Pakistan has two highly talented opening batsmen. Babar Azam at number three is already compared with the prolific Zaheer Abbas. Haris Sohail is also a talented top order batsman. Mohamamad Hafiz and Shoaib Malik are two experienced players capable to steadying and consolidating the innings. Wicket keeper and Captain Sarfraz Ahmed is a good late order batsman as well. Asif Ali is an explosive late order batsman. Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim along with Hafiz and Shoaib are all-rounders in the team. In Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain and Shain Shah Afridi Pakistan possesses the most potent bowling attack ideal for English condition.
It is great that Pakistan replaced Fahim Ashraf, Zunaid Khan and Abid Ali at the last moment bringing in match winners Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Asif Ali. Amir burst into world scene as a potential new generation Wasim Akram tormenting strong batting line ups. But world cricket lost a world campon in the making through match fixing incident involving him and mates like Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt. He served ban and even served Jail terms. His presence will bolster Pakistan attack. Wahab Riaz is another game changer. He reverses well with the old ball and is a match winner. Who can forget how he humiliated Australian batsman in 2015 world cup. If Pakistan plays to its potential they not only would qualify in the semi final but may also appear at Lords for the final.
Sarfraz Ahmed, Imam–Ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafiz, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, Shahin Shah Afridi and Wahab Riaz
Can Kiwis Fly?
Many ask question why New Zealand could not win any major international event? Years after year they keep on producing world class performers. In bilateral series they win often. In worldwide T20 franchise their players perform admirably. But in world event they fail going beyond quarter finals. The only time they appeared in the final was in Australia in 2015 when they lost the MCG final against Tasman neighbors Australia.
Martin Guptil and Tom Latham are two of the most explosive opening batsmen in world cricket. Captain Kane Willaims along with Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Steve Smith are considered the top four contemporary batsmen in world cricket. Ross Taylor and Colin Munro are two other game changers. In late middle order Colin de Granhomme and Henry Nichols are also powerful strikers of the ball. New Zealand also possess a bunch of fast furious fast bowlers in Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Lokie Ferguson and Mat Henry. Ish Sodhi is good enough spinner. New Zealand will be a strong challenger for a spot in top four if some luck goes in their favor.
New Zealand Squad:
Kane Williams, Martin Guptil, Tom Latham, Ross Talylor, Colin Munero, Henry Nichols, Collin de Granhomme, James Nisham, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Lokie Ferguson, Mat Henry, Michael Santer, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
Can South Africa Brush Off Choker Tag?
Strong South Africa always promise big but deliver little at world stage. They choke under pressure cooker situation. Such a brilliant team in bilateral contest still they failed to win world event. They have won champions trophy only once in Dhaka. Other than that they even could not play final even once. In recent times they have not made justice to their reputation. Retirement of Kallis and de Villiers appear to have hurt them a bit. Prolific Amla is also not yet great form. But they still have plenty quality players who can let protean glow like diamond in world event. They are another strong contender for semi finals.
South Africa Squad:
Faf du Plessis, Adien Markram, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Jean Paul Dumini, David Miller, Andile Phenlweyo, Dwaine Pretorious, Chris Morris, Kagisio Rabada, Lugi Ngidi, Dayle Steyn, Imaran Tahir and Tabriz Shamsi
South Africa possess a very strong bowling attack. Playing Steyn, Rabada, Ngidi and Chris Morris in any wicket by any batsman is always a challenge. Imran Tahir and Shamsi are also above average spinners. But it will all depend on how Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Faf du Plessis bat and how South Africa deal under pressure situation.
Any of the four above discuss may force their way into top four. Won't be surprised even two or three enters in business round upsetting the top three.
BDST: 1057 HRS, MAY 23, 2019