Predicting the Cricket World Cup: Part Two

Sri Lanka (A): Prediction = Quarter Finalists

Sri Lanka were regarded as the ‘bridesmaids’ of world cricket, having finished as runners-up at 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2012 ICC events. However, they managed to finally break the curse by beating India in a tense final at the 2014 ICC World T20 Cup. Their fans will be hoping this is a turning point in their histories, for it will be their last chance to send off the legends that are Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The former will be completely retiring from cricket, while Sangakkara will continue to play Tests. Captain Angelo Matthews has learnt from the two, and will hope to lead the team in his entertaining way for the World Cup.

Issues to be worked on:

The recent ICC crackdown on spinners has affected Sri Lanka as well. Sachitra Senanayake has been working on correcting his action, and will need to be back to his best for the World Cup. The Lankans also need to find suitable backup pace bowlers to Lasith Malinga that can be relied upon in testing conditions. Finally, their batting remains inconsistent- teams feel that once Jayawardene, Sangakkara, and Matthews are out, the rest can be prised out quite easily. Sri Lanka will have to develop that backbone and work on their tactics in the ongoing series against India.

West Indies (B): Prediction= Quarter Finalists

West Indies cricket are in a mess right now. A dispute between the board and the players regarding payments led the team to strike in the middle of the India tour. This will have to be sorted out before the World Cup, although reports suggest a compromise has been met. The West Indies fans will be hoping that their team will be up for it with the right motivations, to complement their strengths. Their batting is full of power, and will go hard at bowlers from ball 1. Fan favourites such as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, and Kieron Pollard will allow the West Indies to implement their strategies. Denesh Ramdin has also found a new groove as wicketkeeper-batsman, and is now a valuable member of the team. The West Indies fielding unit is one of the best in the world as well, and they will no-doubt find support from most neutrals.

Issues to be worked on:

While the batting is full of power, the consistency remains lacking. Marlon Samuels seems to be the only one capable of anchoring the side, and should he be out cheaply the rest of the side looks flimsy. West Indies will also have to improve their spin bowling resources, and ensure Sunil Narine can play in the World Cup after doubts over his action. It will make a massive difference if he plays. However the main issue is the impasse between the board and the players, which could have significant repercussions on the World Cup should the current players refuse to participate on the global stage. This will mean a replacement side might have to be sent which would devalue the competition. Watch this space.

England (A): Prediction= Quarter Finalists

England do not play any cricket for a while until the Sri Lanka series. They will be grateful for this, as it gives their best players a chance to completely rest ahead of what will be a tough World Cup. Their pace bowling will be strong in Australia with Steven Finn, James Anderson, and Stuart Broad providing pace, swing, and bounce as well as control with the new ball. Their lower order power hitters (Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan) will also do well on quicker wickets, although they will be challenged in bigger grounds. England’s death bowling is also one of the most settled in international cricket.

Issues to be worked on:

England’s own strategy is the biggest threat facing the team. They remain 10 years behind the rest of the world, and this starts at the top with captain Alistair Cook. England need to accept their strategy of playing slowly and then increasing the tempo throughout the innings is outdated- the sooner they do, the better the chance they have down under. England will also have to deal with the fallout of Kevin Pietersen’s fiery autobiography, as well as the unforgiving media who will continually remind the team they have never won a 50 overs World Cup. However, they will have the Sri Lanka series as well as the tri-series with Australia and India to work this out.

Bangladesh (A): Prediction= Group Stages

While Bangladesh is regarded as a full member of the ICC, most cricket fans would generally agree that they are simply there to make up the numbers. Nothing is expected of Bangladesh, which is the exact reason why they might be able to spring an upset or two. Their fast bowling is almost non-existent save for the ever-present Mashrafe Mortaza; instead Bangladesh believe in their plethora of left arm spinners led by Shakib Al Hasan. Youngster Taijul Islam has burst onto the international scene, and should be in the mix after strong/mature performances versus West Indies and Zimbabwe.

Issues to be worked on:

Bangladesh’s main issue will arise with their batting. They will really need to work on their technique on what will be fast pitches. Opposition bowlers (especially in group A) will fancy putting the Tigers into bat first with the hope that they can be skittled. Tamim Iqbal and Mominul Haque are both talented players, and they will have lead the inexperienced batting lineup. Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah are both explosive players on their day, but they too will need a platform to build on. Experienced players Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib al-Hasan will also have to lend their guidance to help Bangladesh progress out of the group stages.

Zimbabwe (B): Prediction= Group Stages

At both the 1999 and 2003 World Cup, Zimbabwe were competitive and gave teams a good game. Since then however, the country has just regressed. Political issues and a talent drain have not helped them, and they are now having to rebuild their team for what seems like the umpteenth time. Elton Chigumbura and Brendan Taylor are both regarded highly across the world, and will be looking to provide calm heads at the tournament. They will also have to lead from the front as the duo are also the best players in the team. Sikander Raza will start the innings off in his own fast style, but like Bangladesh, opposition bowlers will be backing themselves to make the game vs Zimbabwe a no-contest.

Issues to be worked on:

While the Zimbabweans might not have the same batting or bowling talents that some of the other full members possess, one way they could compete is with their fielding. By saving runs they would make their opponents work hard for their runs, and would be their best way of putting up a fight. Complacency on the part of opposing teams might help Zimbabwe as well for they might be able to shock the odd team on their day.

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