ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 - Team by team preview

Thursday, February 10, 2011 Posted by the sportsloop team
With the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup just a week away, Sportsloop looks at each of the 14 teams taking part.

Group A

Coming off a morale boosting thrashing of England in the recent home series. Selection of hit or miss pace attack means that if they miss, unproven spinners Krejza and Smith could be put to the sword on small grounds. Batting has enough class to keep them in all games. With six survivors from the 2007 victory, and not having lost a World Cup match this century, should be there at the pointy end, but this time there are teams with enough quality to ensure a fifth title does not come there way.

Key Man: Shane Watson – recently confirmed as Australia’s best player with a second Allan Border Medal, his good form at the top of the order, and ability to move the ball will remain critical if the recent team success is to continue.

Prediction: Semi Finalist

Sri Lanka
Playing games at home will make them a serious contender, and they should battle Australia for top spot in the group. A likely semi final against England or West Indies should see them into the last four without really raising a sweat. Still seem reliant on too few for consistent performances with both bat and ball, namely Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Malinga and the aging Murali. India, South Africa and Australia should have too much depth in the biggest matches.

Key Man: Kumar Sangakkara – Captain, keeper and best batsman (though some may argue for Jayawardene on the last point), a poor tournament for Sangakkara would surely mean no repeat of 1996.

Prediction: Semi Finalist

Surely a team that has lost its captain and new ball pairing for cheating, and has been forced to be a cricketing nomad for the last two years could not threaten with the current strength of international cricket. But with the Akmals, Afridi, Razzaq and Akhtar around, the common cliché regarding Pakistan being able to beat anyone on their day remains true. However that doesn’t extend to the three days required over the finals to lift the trophy.

Key Man: Umar Akmal – a young player who most agree has the potential to be one of the great batsmen of the next generation. If he can add some maturity to his undoubted talent it could finally be a good news story for Pakistan cricket.

Prediction: Quarter Finalist

New Zealand
A team too thin on the ground when it comes to genuine match winners. Will need big tournaments from McCullum, Taylor and Ryder with the bat, because if Vettori is unable to contain the opposition line-ups they will be chasing plenty. Recent four match series sweep at the hands of Bangladesh backed up by a home loss to Pakistan is a poor form line, and a quarter final against either India or South Africa should see their tournament come to an end.

Key Man: Brendon McCullum – probably the only Kiwi genuinely feared by opponents. Consistent IPL form and recent success on NZ’s tour of India shows he has a liking for the conditions

Prediction: Quarter Finalist

The shoots of life have started to appear in the thorny garden that has been the last decade in Zimbabwean cricket. But the reality is that the rebuilding is still very much a work in progress. While some exiled players have returned to the fold, the days of the 1999 Cup, where Zimbabwe were genuinely competitive are a long long way off. There is no chance of a quarter final appearance this time around. Wins over the minnows and competitive performances against the rest is the best that can be hoped for to continue the return from the abyss.

Key Man: Tatenda Taibu – the former captain returns to the biggest stage of all since the troubled times of the team he represented on home soil in 2003. With a clearer mind this time around, it would be great to see him show his true ability.

Prediction: 5th in Group

Eight years ago the Kenyans were shock semi finalists, but have regressed a long way since then, and have been passed by other associates. Might fancy their chances against Zimbabwe, but even victory over Canada can’t be banked upon.

Key Man: Thomas Odoyo – now a senior man, after having debuted in the 1996 Cup, will again be relied upon for large contributions with bat and ball

Prediction: 6th in Group

The shoulders of John Davison are now too old to continue to carry the Canadians. If they can beat Kenya, the tournament will be a success, any other dreams are just that.

Key Man: Ashish Bagai – must step up and take the baton from Davison, but as captain and keeper, will have his work cut out.

Prediction: 7th in Group

Group B

South Africa
The perennial chokers once again are in the conversation as potential champions. Strong leadership, powerful batting, and a fast bowling cartel all point to the Proteas again putting themselves in contention when the whips are cracking. As always, spin stocks are not high, but if the totals are sufficiently large, and the quicks do early damage, this may not matter. At the very least they should be playing in the final, and in this writers opinion, will lift the trophy as well.

Key Man: Dale Steyn – the best fast bowler in the world his best chance to put his stamp on the biggest tournament in the world. If he can consistently knock over the top order, South Africa are on their way to being World Champions.

Prediction: Champion

Now top of the heap in Test cricket, and the most powerful nation off the field, the time has never been better for India to lift a second World Cup to complete its World domination. Playing at home is yet another advantage, but bare in mind no host has ever lifted the Cup. Strong in all aspects of the game, they are the most complete team in the tournament, especially with the willow where Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dohni, Gambhir and Yuvraj will provide plenty of work for fielders.

Key Man: Virender Sehwag – along with Gayle, the most devastating opener in the game, but with more consistency than the Jamaican. If Sehwag fires on all cylinders, India will set huge targets, and will be well on the way to the final.

Prediction: Runner-up

Six weeks ago the English were brimming with confidence and were genuine title contenders. But injuries to half of the first choice side, including the loss of gun Eoin Morgan combined with a crushing series loss in Australia has seen their Ashes confidence sapped. If Pietersen, Trott, Strauss and Bell can find form a semi final isn’t beyond them, but they’ll probably have to go through Sri Lanka to get there.

Key Man: James Anderson – in career best form, and his team will need this to continue this as he is needed to knock the top off opposing line-ups early in the innings. With injuries to Broad and Bresnan, the pressure on him is greater than ever.

Prediction: Quarter Finalist

West Indies
Enough has been said about the demise of the former giants of the game. At least now they seem to have plateaued at a consistently low level. Kemar Roach leads a pedestrian attack that will leak plenty of runs. The batting, with Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Bravo remains dangerous, but Chris Gayle needs to find rare consistency to really give them a chance. If they make the quarter finals, a match against Australia or host Sri Lanka should see them booking flights to the Caribbean.

Key Man: Chris Gayle – no longer burdened with the captaincy, a lot will rest on Gayle getting the team off to explosive starts. It will surprise if he doesn’t play one the tournaments best innings, but equally if he plays enough of them to get his team to the semis.

Prediction: Quarter Finalist

Have continued to make steady improvement, highlighted by a series sweep against New Zealand at home, but their top players still produce their best far too infrequently. Five matches at home will give them a chance against the bigger teams, and should ensure no slip ups against the minnows. The match against the West Indies should decide the final place in the quarters. Bangladesh may never get a better chance to earn respect of crickets big boys, but are they finally up to it?

Key Man: Shakib Al Hasan – another all-rounder who will be vital to the success of his team, and that’s before you mention the captaincy. Shakib is a man with more on his plate than most 23 year olds, but in front of home fans has the ability to finally put his team on the map.

Prediction: 5th in Group

Rocked the world four years ago by putting Pakistan out, and their cricket has continued to improve at a steady rate. Will have patches in games where they are competitive, but the changes in tournament format will make the heroics of 2007 impossible to replicate

Key Man: Ed Joyce – has traded places with Eoin Morgan, and brings a reliable bat to Ireland’s top order. Along with wanting to do well for his native country, he will also no doubt have a point to prove to the English selectors.

Prediction: 6th in Group

Consistent qualifiers for this event, this being their fourth, but have always proved short of enough true class, and are in for more punishment this time around. Only real hope of a win will come against Ireland.

Key Man: Ryan ten Doeschate – the Essex star remains the main man in orange. Heavy defeats will result if he doesn’t fire with both bat and ball, and probably will even if he does.

Prediction: 7th in Group


Post a Comment