Mohammad Nabi and Naji Zadran went off!
As we head towards another World Cup all the teams are gearing up and trying to find the much-needed match within the team before the event.
With a handful of players receiving unexpected World Cup call-ups due to injuries to their teammates, the squads are on their way to the London for the warm-up matches, where they’ll be evaluated in representative playing conditions.
We still haven’t seen too many winners in this big event. Some teams have tended to dominate the World Cup. Of 11 world cups to now Australia have won five trophies, followed by West Indies and India with two each and Pakistan and Sri Lanka with just one. No other team has managed to win the title.
With a few days to go before the World Cup, these are the strongest contenders.
David Warner and Steve Smith are all set to wear the Australian colours this World Cup after a year ban, and the defending champions look quite a strong team with many of their 2015 stars still in the side. Warner and Smith recovered their form in the IPL and friendly matches against New Zealand. Another thing to look for throughout the tournament will be Mitchell Starc’s fitness, as his exemplary performance in 2015 World Cup paved their path to a fourth triumph.
India is one of the most consistent teams in the 50-over game and are surely eyeing their third title, but the journey won’t be an easy one this time. The last one-day international India played was two months back, so an immediate switch from the 20-over game to 50 overs won’t be an easy task. There are also some key issues with the bowling department, and the No. 4 position can be tricky. The key player to watch will unquestionably be Shikhar Dhawan owing to his infatuation with ICC tournaments. Other than him, India has also got Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Jasprit Bumrah in form, which is good news.
The hosts seem to be stronger than any other side. This team, even if we ignore the home advantage, is strong in all departments and appears to be in good form after whitewashing Pakistan by 4-0 in five-match series. The key players to watch will be both the wicketkeepers, Jos Butler and Jonny Bairstow, who are at the peak of their form and are having a wonderful time in the concluded series against Pakistan and IPL.
4. South Africa
The Proteas – or the chokers – despite a great show in limited-overs cricket, have never seen their World Cup dream come true, but this year they have a balanced side even in the absence of AB de Villiers. With in-form players like Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada and experienced players JP Duminy and Dale Steyn, overall the team appears to be strong on paper, much like England. But, again, they have never won the World Cup and, like India, they too had their last ODI a whiel ago, which makes the side unpredictable.
With the current form of the teams, my predictions for semi-finalists are: England, Australia, India and South Africa.
To rank these top contenders for the cup, my personal favourite will be England, and I won’t be surprised if they get their hands on trophy for the first time. My next pick would be the defending champions, Australia, who appear to be the most aggressive side in this World Cup, and after that I’d pick the 2011 winners, India, because they’ve got some surprising match-turners despite an imbalance.
What to expect is a cracker of the tournament, as most of the teams have called their experienced players on duty.