Everyday, I see in the newspaper one out of the 14 teams, which is going to participate in the cricket World Cup 2011 that starts on 19th Feb in Indian subcontinent , being picked up as the favorite by one or other former players or commentators. After reading those pieces of news I thought which would be my favorite team. Obviously, I am going to support India and will be more than happy if it wins the cup, and you never know that it might be my favorite too. So, just continue reading to know my favorite, if you are still not bored with those news or want to read the analysis of a very common man. Before I choose the team, lets do some analysis for choosing the favorite, I am going to consider only the team in top 6 ranking of ICC.
As per my view, which I am pretty sure most of you might agree, the team which has the performing and consistent player who can take the pressure of a big tournament is going to win rather than the team which is full of non-performing talent as English team. So, lets look at each team, I will start with the team India.
Indian team which is second in ICC ranking, has the biggest advantage of playing in home conditions. It has pretty good and deep batting lineup, even no.7 batsman of the team has two centuries to his credit, which if fires can rip apart any bowling line up, but the biggest problem is that not all batsman have been performing lately and some of them have not played recently because of injury, so lack of practice might affect their performance. If we talk more about batting, even Harbhajan Singh and up to some extend Zaheer Khan and Piyush Chawala can contribute with the bat, but what the team need is a healthy contribution from captain cool and Yuvraj Singh. It’s the only team other than Australia which has maximum number of match winners. The bowling department looks bit weak, especially the pace department, with Praveen Kumar already being ruled out due to injury, so it is hard to say who will be the best out of the three options available- Nehra, Patel and Sreesanth, to share the new bowl with Zaheer Khan and give the team early breakthrough. Spin department looks fine with Harbhajan, even though he has to prove that he can perform in the crunch situations, Ashwin and Piyush, as all three of them have lot of varieties in their repertoire, along with part time spinner like Sehwag, Raina and Pathan, who can contribute well with the ball. Fielding of the team needs to be taken care of, as it keep on fluctuating between superb and average. The team has the best captain of present time who is also very lucky and pretty good at man management. Selector has chosen the best possible team, now lets see how well they perform. Just a note, Indian team had performed well in alternate world cup, 1996-semis, 2003-finals and who knows this time they might end the drought of 27 years.
Australian team which is leading in the ICC ranking, looks a very balanced side with Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger and Shaun Tait taking care of pace attack, this pace battery can make any batting lineup look average. They have Shane Watson, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey brothers, Cameron White, Brad Haddin and Tim Paine in batting lineup, all of them are capable of winning the match single handedly. Their only cause of worry is lack of quality and experienced spinner who can perform as per requirement in the subcontinent. They have a very aggressive and experienced captain who knows the conditions of subcontinent very well, which is yet another asset for the team. Their fielding have always been superb and recently they have got back their form, as evident in the recently concluded bilateral series against England in which they almost whitewashed the English team. They are the only team which have performed well in pressure situation and who knows if they can win the title of fourth time in succession.
Srilanka is the team which is third in ranking and will have the similar advantage as Indian team of playing at home. They have few match winners in the team but recently this team has not performed up to it’s reputation and does not look like a contender for the cup, but you never know as this team is capable of giving some surprises, especially when playing in home condition. They will surely miss Chminda Vass in pace attack but they have very good spin attack. So, it is one of the team to look for in the world cup.
South Africa which is 4th in ICC ranking looks to be very balanced side, only next to Australia, which is capable of winning the cup if only there bad luck doesn’t follow them in this world Cup. They have the best bowling attack at the present which can rip apart any batting line up. Even though they have big names like Smith, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers, Dumminy, in the batting line up but the team just chokes up if it looses two to three wicket in quick succession, thus known as Chokers. Imran Tahir, Pakistan born spinner might prove to be the trump card for them, who has performed exceptionally well in domestic tournaments. Time will only tell if they will be able to end their bad luck in World Cup or not. It is one of those team which deserves to win the cup, but the cup is not won on this basis but on the basis of performance.
English team which would be high after winning the Ashes, is ranked 5th in ICC ranking. They are good side but till now they have never performed under pressure in ODIs, almost whitewashed by Australians in recently concluded series. They are a better side for tests but not in ODIs where teams are required to score fast, at the same time they have to keep wicket in hands, which is this team incapable off. They have been to finals three times (1979, 1987, 1992) before but have not been able to win, only future can tell if they will be able to break the jinx and win the cup or not. They might give some surprises but at least to me they don’t look like a serious contender for the cup.
Pakistan team, ranked 6th, has been going through make over in the recent times after they were hit by the spot fixing of the matches, which lead to the banning of their three key players. They have got a new and aggressive captain in Afrdi who can bat and bowl, as well. They have very good bowling attack which include Akthar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, and a decent batting line up. Overall they are good side that is down in confidence because of frequent change of captains and various other reasons. They are very tough nut to crack when playing in subcontinent. It is one of those team which can cause some upheaval and might upset some of the good and confident team, so don’t be awestruck if they win the cup.
All other teams does not seems to be in competition for the cup, they are just playing for the sake of playing, as per my view. They might prove me wrong with some stunning performance. I will be more than happy if India wins the cup. But, if I have to chose one team which will win the cup than it is Australia. I might be criticized for making this safe choice(as they have won it for 4 times out of which 3 time in succession) or for not choosing India. But as per my view they are the best and most balanced team at the present time and have got back their lost form, at the same time it is the team which never gives up and handles the pressure well, thus having all the attributes which a champion team should possess.
Its my choice and you are free to differ from me, but with a reason.