26 May 2019 Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) By Ishan Samaraweera
The battle for Supremacy! Who will be crowned champions of the cricketing world?
Cricket’s showpiece event returns to England as ten teams battle across 11 venues to win the ultimate prize in the world of cricket. This time it will be the 12th edition of the tournament. This will be the fifth time that the World Cup is held in England.
The format will be similar to the 1992 world cup where all the teams battle it out against each other once and the top four teams will qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.
Let’s take a closer look at the 10 teams participating in the tournament.
Over the years Sri Lanka has been a tough team to beat at the World Cup. From the 1996 World Cup triumph they have performed well in ICC tournaments, but in recent times their performance in the 50 over format has been dismal.
A lot of changes have been done in the lead up to the World Cup. Dimuth Karunaratne will be captaining the Lankan lions in the world cup.
The Lankans will have the services of the former captain Angelo Mathews, veteran fast bowler Lasith Malinga and leg- spinner Jeevan Mendis.
Malinga is set to play his fourth 50 over World Cup, despite being down on pace, he will play a crucial role in the tournament for Sri Lanka.
On the other hand Angelo Mathews continues to keep Sri Lankans on the edge of their seats when they see him on the field, but only as a batsman. So he will be hoping to play the entire tournament which will be a huge boost for Sri Lanka’s hopes of winning a world cup after 23 years.
This time they have a balance of youth and experience but the question remains to be seen whether this team will click at the right time.
India is considered to be one of the favourites to get their hands on the trophy this time. The Men in Blue have dominated the 50 over format in the recent past, with the leadership of their charismatic captain Virat Kohli, they have become a power house in the cricketing world.
They have one of the best cricketing brains in the form of MS Dhoni, and in Jasprit Bumrah one of the best fast bowlers in the world. They have all the qualities of being the champions this time.
The hosts England is also one of the firm favourites to win the World Cup. After their early exit from the 2015 world cup, they began to play with a lot of freedom. The aggressive nature of Eoin Morgan’s captaincy changed the culture of English cricket. Which he acquired from the former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum. They played the game in a fearless manner in the last couple of years which led to the astonishment of the England fans.
Players such as Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Ben Stokes will play a crucial role in the upcoming world cup. The fans will hope that they will win their first major tournament in the 50 over format.
Pakistan hasn’t been able to perform well as they would like in the recent past. They lost their last two bilateral series against England and Australia, but they have the experience of Sarfraz Ahamed, Shoaib Malik. Whose experience would be vital for Pakistan’s chances in the World Cup. The inclusion of Barbar Azam, Fakhar Zaman Imam Ul Haq and Mohammad Amir will also be crucial for them.
Bangladesh comes in to this tournament after a victorious tri- series in Ireland. This squad of players have been together since the 2015 World Cup. Youngsters such as Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman will add variety to the team. Players such as Shakib-ul-Hasan are the impact players that a team needs to have in a successful world cup campaign.
They are a formidable team on paper. The fact is that, when it comes to world tournaments the South Africans tend to struggle to perform according to their instincts, but this time they are determined to prove their critics wrong. Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Faf Duplesis and Hashim Amla will have to play consistently if they are to lift the trophy and create history this time.
The New Zealand comes in to the World Cup as one of the consistent teams in world cricket over the past two years. Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Ross Taylor will have to play a key role in pursuit of their first major tournament since 2000.
Kane Williamson will hope that the Black Caps will have the determination to create history in this world cup and make this a memorable tournament for the whole hearted New Zealand fans.
The defending champions Australia are one of the favourites to win the tournament this time. This will be a major challenge for the Australian captain Aaron Finch who prepares for another challenge in England.
David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Steven Smith will have to play crucial roles if they to defend cup they won in 2015.
This will be their second World Cup. They are one of the emerging teams in the cricketing world. Rashid Khan, Mohommad Nabi will hope to make an impact in this tournament.
The men from the Caribbean have a formidable group of match winners. The ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle will play his fifth and farewell 50 over World Cup for the Windies. Will Jason Holder and his men replicate what Clive Lloyd and his formidable team did in 1975 and 1979, is a good guess.
All the preparations have been done and now it’s time to witness the battle for the ultimate prize in the gentlemen’s game.