Cricket / world cup

Who is going to win the Cricket World Cup 2019?
Cricket World Cup Predictions Cricket World Cup Preview 1 week to go until the start of the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Finally, the waiting is nearly over and all the talking and analysis can be put to bed as the action out in the middle takes centre stage. It's been a rollercoaster 4 years in-between tournaments and that very unpredictability hints at what should be a festival of cricket in England this summer. For example, who would have thought that defending Champions Australia would crumble in the wake of sandpaper gate and win just twice in 2018? Who would have thought that Pakistan would surprise everyone to win the ICC Champions trophy only to then head into the World Cup without a win in their last 11 matches? Who would have thought that an England side stuck playing a brand of cricket from the 1980s 4 years ago, would transform themselves into the most powerful batting line-up and pre-tournament favourites? Cricket it would appear is full of surprises and I would be astounded if this tournament is any different......The below is my preview of the top 7 teams in the competition, I've decided to ignore Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan because I don't think they have a chance of winning but feel free to argue their case if you disagree........England StrengthsEngland have taken run-scoring in 50 over cricket to a whole new level breaking record after record over the last couple of years particularly within their home conditions The opening pair of Bairstow and Roy have not only been brutal in the first 10-15 overs but remarkably consistent setting a platform from which England can push to well over 350 in most matches The depth of the batting line-up is also a major feature with Adil Rashid, a man with 10 first-class centuries to his name often carded to bat at number 11. This allows England to attack from the off and continue to do so through the middle oversEngland don't fear anyone! They are unbeaten in their last 11 bilateral ODI series winning in all conditions against all comers. They also won 10 out of 11 matches played in England last yearWeaknessesThere is some talk that the pressure of playing at home and wearing the favourites tag will be a disadvantage but I don't see it that way. What I do think is that never having won the competition before will grate on the players a little and that could be a difficult monkey to shake off their backs particularly towards the later part of the tournamentEngland's bowling has also come in for some criticism with the perception that it may be a little one dimensional. The inclusion of Joffra Archer is designed to add some more firepower to the squad but the pressure on him to deliver almost immediately is going to be immense Despite their many resounding victories over the last couple of years, England have shown over that when it goes wrong it tends to go wrong badly. Given the long format of the group stage this should allow them a couple of mishaps without jeopardising their place in the top 4 but thereafter it may be their inability to win in a scrappy semi-final that costs themIndia StrengthsThe top 3 have been dominant for India in recent years with at least 1 of Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli tending to make a telling contribution to every matchBowling wise, India have 3 of the top 10 bowlers in ODI cricket at present and with Buvi Kumar returning to form and fitness they are only further strengthened in that department It is a squad chock full of experience and while Kohli is, in theory, the captain you get the sense that a lot of the on-field decision making and tactics are carried out by MS Dhoni, a former WC winner with 341 ODI caps to his name. With the above-mentioned weapons at his disposal and the knowledge of how to use them, it's difficult to see India not competing in the later parts of this tournament WeaknessesAs is often the case, your greatest strength can often lead to your greatest weakness and with India the dominance of the top 3 has meant that the middle order have had little to no chance of establishing themselves in recent years. The number 4 position has been chopped and changed ad nauseam while there have even been question marks over Dhoni’s place in the side following a poor run in England last yearFinding a balance to the team and ensuring adequate bowling cover has also been an issue in recent series but India are boosted by the return of Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav following injuries. They are likely to bat at 6 and 7 and fill the role of 6th bowlerPreparation and fitness could well be a concern for Team India, all of whom have come straight off the back of a brutal IPL campaign and have had little chance to acclimatise to either the longer format or foreign conditions. There have also been question marks over the fitness of key players including Jasprit Bumrah, Kedar Jadav, Buvi Kumar and Hardik Pandya who have all had a packed schedule over the past 18months. Will that come to tell in the later stages of this tournament? Australia StrengthsThe graphic above gives a pretty good indication of why Australia have to be taken seriously in this tournament. Firstly they've won the tournament a record 5 times including 4 years ago on their home turf. They had a woeful 2018 but are coming into the tournament on the back of surprise victories in India and Pakistan. Might they be peaking at just the right time for this World Cup? What the graphic doesn't show is that Smith and Warner are now back in the squad and likely to play a key role in this tournament. Warner, in particular, looked in very fine form on his way to the purple cap in the IPL. Both players have a point to prove and will be keen to let their cricket do the talking Starc and Cummins have the pace and skill to trouble any batsman in the world and Australia will be looking to them to take early wickets WeaknessesSpin is probably one of the primary concerns for Australia both in regards their lack of a world-class wrist spinner and their ability to play it. A lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of Adam Zampa who will see this tournament as a chance to truly establish himself in this Aussie team. We saw in the BBL that Aussie batsmen struggle on slower wickets and while some of the damage was repaired in their recent series against India and Pakistan you only need to cast your mind back to Australia's tour of England last year to see how they were dominated by Moeen and RashidThe fitness of Starc and Cummins is a key concern for Aussies. Both have had their workload managed throughout the run-up to this tournament but both have also been injury prone throughout their careers. Australia have some decent back-up options but they are not in the same league as those 2How will Smith and Warner integrate into the team? Their inclusion has already cost Peter Handscomb his place in the side despite his good form in India while Usman Khawaja who did very well on the turning tracks in Pakistan may also face the axe in order to accommodate the former captain and vice-captain. A couple of early wins and it seems likely that all will be forgotten but if they start badly then we may see cracks begin to openSouth Africa StrengthsLower expectations may well play into the South African's hands this time around as we have seen them crumble when the pressure is on in previous tournaments (see below). No one really seems to be talking them up for this World Cup and yet as the graphic above shows they have plenty of high-class players in their side Experience is also something that they don't lack in with the likes of Amla, Du Plessis, Steyn and Duminy having had long and distinguished careersThey have a nice variety to their bowling attack with several pace options supported by the leg-spin of Tahir and the chinaman of Shamsi. Their ability to restrict sides to par or below par scores could be a defining factor in their successWeaknessesAgain fitness and preparation could be a concern for the Proteas as they allowed their players to play out the entire IPL season. Rabada and Steyn had to return early from that competition due to injury concerns and in general the ever decreasing pool of players that SA have to draw upon means that the demands on their squad grow ever greaterWhile they have strength in the top 4 you would say they are lacking a little in terms of ball strikers in the middle and late order. David Miller has shown glimpses of what he is capable of in that kind of role and South Africa will dearly love him to come good on the biggest stageWell, it's obvious that their biggest weakness is themselves! The curse of South Africa has struck on multiple occasions in this tournament and dispelling memories of 1992 or 1999 will be a real test for the men in green if and when it comes to the crunch stages of this tournament New Zealand StrengthsAnother side that is at it's best when flying under the radar is New Zealand. Finalists 4 years ago, largely speaking they have managed to keep the same side together and they have plenty of potential match winners throughout their 11Their top 4 looks solid with the explosive power of Guptill and Munro supported by the strokeplay of Williamson and Taylor that follow Again there is nice balance and variety in their bowling with left-arm Trent Boult and right-arm Tim Southee having arguably the most established partnership in ODI cricket. Then comes the raw pace of Ferguson, the wrist-spin of Sodhi and the slow-left arm of Santner. With Kane Williamson at the helm they will be a challenge for anyone in this tournamentWeaknessesI don't think it helps that the likes of Boult, Southee, Williamson, Sodhi, Santner, Guptill, Munro, Ferguson and DeGrandhome all had very limited opportunities in this year's IPL and were reduced to carrying drinks for large parts of that tournament. Could that mean that the Black Caps are a little ring rusty going into the World Cup? Again they are a side that is relying largely on their top order to get them off to a good start. It might be possible to strangle this New Zealand side in the middle overs and then limit their scoring later in the inningsWhen he did play in the IPL Kane Williamson didn't look fit and we will have to wait and see if he's recovered from the shoulder injury that has been hampering him of late. New Zealand don't have the strength and depth in their squad to be able to overcome the loss of a couple of their first 11Pakistan StrengthsPakistan's traditional strength has been to peak just at the right time to do well in major tournaments. They did so in 1992 when they won the World Cup and they did the same in 2017 to clinch the Champions Trophy also in England. Given their terrible run of form coming into the WC this time around this might just be their greatest comeback yet if they can pull off a victory in 2019As demonstrated in their recent series against England their batting looks pretty decent with Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Iman Ul-Haq and Sarfraz Ahmed all scoring runsThe return of Shadab Khan to the side in time for the World Cup could be a major boost to their chances of progressing from the group stage and from there who would bet against them taking the title?WeaknessesStrangely their pace bowling which has for so long been Pakistan's trump card is suddenly looking a little toothless. Mohammad Amir will hope to prove that class is permanent and form temporary as he comes back into the side Asif Ali showed signs of being able to hit some late order runs but Pakistan much like South Africa and New Zealand above them have little in the way of quality at numbers 5, 6 & 7 to muscle themselves into a place of dominance Their fielding against England was atrocious. In a competition that is likely to be won on small margins, they will have to improve dramatically to stand any chance against the other big sides The West Indies StrengthsHaving had to go through qualification just to get this far, The West Indies are a team with very little to lose and the gung ho approach that they can adopt in those circumstances is very much likely to suit their style of play Explosive batting power is likely to be their biggest weapon and if 1 or 2 of the likes of Gayle, Hetmyer, Russell or Pooran fire then expect to see some monster scores from the guys from the Caribbean Backing-up those big hitters up will be the understated strokeplay of Shai Hope who despite having struggled to live up to his early promise in Test Match cricket is quickly developing into a very fine ODI player. He will play a very similar role to that of Joe Root in this team, holding the innings together while the big hitters go to work at the other endWeaknessesThere is a distinct lack of quality and experience with the ball and in the batting friendly conditions that we expect to see in this World Cup it's difficult to know who Holder can through the ball to get them a much-needed breakthrough when the opposition are on topAnother side whose fielding can be a very mixed bag. In the modern game, it is difficult to hide the likes of Gayle or Gabriel in the field and that may ultimately cost them points in the group stageJason Holder has done a fantastic job with a relatively inexperienced squad but we all know that politics both on and off the pitch plays a big part in the West Indies dressing room. With games against Pakistan, Australia, England & South Africa to start off with it is imperative that WI get off to a good start. We are likely to either see a feast of calypso cricket or 11 sulky players wondering if they might be better off elsewhere, there seems little in between for this talented but temperamental sideI'll be putting together a post with my detailed predictions and betting tips later next week once we've seen how the sides come through their warm-up games.What do you think of the above analysis?Are there any strengths and weaknesses I've missed?As always quality discussion will be rewarded

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