The greatest commonwealth party on earth has begun in England as ten teams battle it out for the right to world championship of Cricket. One week into the tournament we take a look at the prospects of every team and predict the winners.
Despite being the birthplace of the game, England has never been the world champion of cricket. But that may very well change this summer because this is possibly the most balanced and most talented English side we have seen at a world cup. With a strong batting line-up led by Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, and Jos Butler, supported by all-rounders like Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes capable of doing damage at both ends, and a lethal bowling attack comprising Jofra Archer, Liam Plunkett, and Adil Rashid, this England team looks virtually indestructible.
While they may lose a game or two in the tournament (they have lost one out of the three games played), England is really going to be difficult to beat at home and are the favourites to win it all.
While even the strongest of the lots like England, Australia, or South Africa, have gone through several ups and downs, India really is the one elite team that has never really experienced a prolonged slump over the last 10 years. Unlike Australia who clearly felt the departure of the likes of Shane Warne or Glen McGrath, or former world champion Sri Lanka who are still in search for an answer since Sangakara’s retirement, India never felt a tremble upon Tendulkar’s retirement, because their cricket foundation is that much stronger, and their pipelines of cricketers are so deep that there is always someone ready to replace a retiring or injured superstar.
A fearsome batting line-up made of Virat Kholi, Shikhar Dhawan, and Rohit Sharma, a potent bowling combination of spin and pace by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and Kuldeep Yadav, along with the incomparable experience of MS Dhoni, this Indian side looks just about crash-proof. The only reason India is not the main favourite is because England is playing at home.
Despite their recent struggles with scandals and suspensions, Australians always know how to remain professional and come back strong and have the last laugh. While they appear more breachable compared to India or England, they still have immense amount of talent in the roster in batsmen like David Warner, Aaron Finch, and Steven Smith who can chase down any total, or bowlers like Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starch who can make life very difficult for any top batsman. Hence, if England or India are to win the title they must go through the Aussie resistance at some point.
While New Zealand has always enjoyed vast success at international phase, they have never been recognized as a super power of the same stature as England, Australia, India, or South Africa. But they will certainly be the biggest dark horse of the tournament who can come back from behind to shock India or England. They have a deadly batting line up led by Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill who has every capacity to match the likes of Kholi or Jos Butler penny for penny, and a frightening pace attack led by Matt Henry and Trent Boult who will look to capitalize the English conditions that favours fast bowlers. If things go their way New Zealand is a strong side who can be the pleasant surprise winner of this tournament. They have already won their first 3 games of the tournament and looks to be in great touch.
South Africa: The falling giants
South Africans are generally used to entering world cups as favourites, and were also considered one of the stronger sides going into this year’s tournament. However, an injury ridden South Africa has already lost their first three games and seems to have their back against the wall, and set to be the 2019 edition of the fallen giants of the world cup.
Mid Card Teams
Bangladesh has made tremendous progress over the last 5 years and enjoyed significant success against top teams. However, their lack of consistency would suggest they are yet to emerge as a dominant force or a super power of world cricket and have never been able to drive passed the phase of ‘almost there’. Despite vast talent and considerable success, it seems none of their key players like Tamim Iqbal or Mushfiqur Rahim has ever been able to fully materialize their full potential.
They had a good start to the tournament with a big win against South Africa but if they are to reach the semi-finals they will have to play against the expectations and odds.
Pakistan did not enter the tournament among the favourites but they have already lived up to their reputation for being unpredictable when they picked up an unexpected win against favourites England. While they it will be a long run for them to go all the way Pakistan could be a surprise entrant to the semi-final stage.
There used to be a time when West Indies were the most dominant force in cricket and the ruled the world throughout the 80’s and 90’s when no one could match them. But the two time world champions started suffering from lack of new talents beginning mid 2000’s when basketball took over cricket in popularity in the Caribbean. While they have recovered from their dire stages of mid 2000’s and now have a respectable squad who has enjoyed reasonable success in recent times, they never found their old glory back. West Indies will still put up a good show and will pose some degree of threats against stronger oppositions but it is very unlikely that they will progress into the semi-finals.
Sri Lankan cricket has been going through heavy makeover in the past 4-5 years and despite the occasional flashes of good performances it seems their rebuilding phase is still far from seeing an end. They have struggled against Afghanistan who are the lowest ranked team in the tournament and suffered a dominating defeat at the hands of New Zealand. Inconsistent and suffering from an identity crisis, it will be a tall mountain to climb and a big shocker if Sri Lanka advances in this tournament passed the first round.
Afghanistan is the one emerging team that has made significant progress as a new comer at rate greater than any other teams with test status. It’s taken teams like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Zealand over a decade to start winning games on a regular basis and be taken seriously by more established oppositions. Despite being a newest addition to the International Cricket Council’s full membership, Afghan boys are not afraid to look everyone in the eyes or go on a counter attack mode. However, you need more than just courage to be successful at a World Cup, and despite a tremendously talented roster with high prospects, it is still too soon and they are simply not ready to leave their permanent marks at world cup. Afghans are more than capable of registering a few upsets but they will predominantly be seen as a prey and opportunity to increase run rates by nearly every other team.
Projected Final Standings
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- West Indies
- Sri Lanka
England vs. India