Overview The 2019 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. Already excitement has started to build around the event. This edition of the tournament is the fifth time when the world cup would be hosted by England and Wales. The tournament will kick-start on the 30th of May at The Oval when hosts England take on South Africa. The final game of the tournament will be played at The Lord's Cricket Ground on the 14th of July.
India is one of those teams which fancies its chances of winning the tournament, and rightly so. In recent times, India has arguably been the best one-day side on display, with the possible exception of the hosts England. The legendary Sachin Tendulkar has already gone on to announce that India will be the favorites to win this tournament. Let us look at India's prospects this time around as well as the other teams which might look to cut short India's dreams of winning the world cup.
A Batting Superpower India's batting order has historically been strong. In the present context, this seems to be the case as well. On their day, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma at the top of the order have the ability to rip apart practically any bowling line-up in the world. The good thing for India is that Shikhar Dhawan's ODI record in the UK is nothing short of brilliant. His exploits in the Champions Trophy of 2013 are perhaps still fresh in the memory of several opposition teams as well as Indian fans. And everyone knows what Virat Kohli is capable of doing. Such a top order along with an in-form middle order can strike panic in the hearts of most teams playing this tournament.
What might be seen as a potential weak spot for the Indian batting order is their relatively weak performance while facing swing. This came to the fore in Dharmashala against Sri Lanka as well as in the 4th ODI against New Zealand in the recently concluded series. However, swing in ODIs is becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon. Moreover, these are tiny blemishes on an otherwise brilliant side.
Talking about Bowling Where India has really become a powerhouse in recent times is the quality of its bowling. This has been true in case of the spinners as well as the pace bowlers. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been hard to handle for most opposition batsmen. It would not be wrong to say that they have been the key to winning most of the recent bilateral series and they might be as effective as anyone in England where, especially in the later part of the tournament, pitches might dry up and spin would start to play a bigger part. In this case, India's victory in the 2013 Champion's trophy can be instructive, where, in the bowling department, Ashwin and Jadeja held the key, especially during the middle overs.
But India's bowling has been so much more than simply the spinners. Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Muhammad Shami along with a few overs of Hardik Pandya can play an instrumental role in India winning most of the matches. This seems to be an area where India has recently improved. It is not surprising that India's performance in the opening spells as well as in the death overs has improved phenomenally.
Other Teams to look out for It is quite easy as an Indian fan to get carried away by the team's great performances. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that nothing is predictable in an ICC tournament. Just think back to the last edition of the Champions Trophy. Nobody expected Pakistan to win the tournament. Even if India has the best team on paper, it is possible that some team or the other might pop out to cut short India's campaign.
Be that as it may, there are a couple of other teams which have the potential to lift the coveted trophy. Among these, an obvious name that pops up is that of the hosts England. England has been performing extremely well after they took that drubbing against Bangladesh in 2015. Their batting prowess is something that seems to have grabbed the attention of the entire world. Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Mo Ali, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes… the list is simply endless. Even Rashid, Plunkett and Willey can put in useful contributions down the order. This is one of the best advantages which any team can have, especially on the flat ODI tracks and relatively smaller boundaries which are generally seen in the UK.
Moreover, they also have a good bowling attack. The quicker men, as well as the spinners, are quite adept when it comes to the short format. Unsurprisingly, England is one of the prime favorites to win this tournament.
Another team which might emerge as likely contenders is South Africa. Although the 'choker' tag is still stuck firmly on them and although their batting looks increasingly fragile, even then, their bowling attack is still one of the best in the world. Rabada, Steyn, and Phehlukwayo have a mixture of skill and experience which can be helpful for their team. Even though their batting hasn't looked in the best of the form (with the exception of de Kock and du Plessis), but on paper, they are as good as anyone. Provided that the top order can provide a solid foundation they can win most matches in the tournament.
Among the other remaining teams, New Zealand is one that has a chance to at least make it to the playoffs if not actually win the trophy. Their batting is reasonably good, despite the struggles which they had against India. And everyone knows how strong their bowling is, with a good combination of pacers and some accurate medium pacers.
Conclusion I have already mentioned that an ICC trophy is filled with a lot of uncertainties. Maybe an unexpected winner will pop up this time. Whatever it might be there can be very little doubt that this would be an exciting tournament to watch, as a lover of the game.
By the way, in the last couple of days, the event has been in the news in India for all the wrong reasons. It is my personal belief that sports and politics never go well together. A match between India and Pakistan always offers something to remember.