zim cricket.jpgBy Masimba C.K Mafukidze

 

The countdown for the mega event has begun, and everyone, including the legends of cricket, have started picking their favorites to win the World Cup. According to the legends of the game, India are favorites to win the World Cup.

However, in my opinion, India are not favorite to win this World Cup, even though they are top contenders for the coveted trophy. One of the main reasons for India’s unlikely success is the fact they are playing in front of the home crowd. Such big events like the World Cup bring a lot of pressure on players. The likelihood of being favorites adds to already existing pressure of home crowd expectations.

 

Out-of-form best one day batsman, Yuvraj Singh, could also harm India’s chances. On the other hand, their senior batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, will be desperate to win the World Cup in order to have at least one big trophy under his belt before he retires from cricket. One can almost see Tendulkar faltering or failing when approaching an important milestone.

 

He has never featured in a World Cup winning team despite featuring in five editions of the tournament. This is likely to be his last World Cup. The short-man is known to fail whenever there is pressure on him. Any shrewd captain should be able to exploit this weakness of Sachin Tendulkar.

 

There is no clear picture yet as to what combination India is likely to use. There is too much confusion with too many choices. But if some of the players in the Indian batting line up hit purple patch, nothing could stop India from winning this edition of the World Cup.

Similarly, the Australians are not being picked as favorites this time, although they are still at the top of the ICC ranking table.

 

However, reduced expectations on the Australian team might work in their favor. What could go against the Australian team is form and the future of some of their key players, including their captain and star batsman, Ricky Ponting.

 

The Ashes results could also have a bearing on their performance in the upcoming World Cup. The Australian team is still a force to reckon with and can peak at the right time to win the World Cup.

 

South Africa is my favorite to win the World Cup this time. They neither have the pressure of being favorites, nor are they playing in front of their home crowd. The tag of being chokers might actually work in their favor.

 

They have one of the best batting line up and the best fast bowler in the world in their line up. South Africa should be able to open their account for World Cup trophies.

 

The most unpredictable team ever, in my view, is Pakistan, which is not being given much of a chance by the pundits, but they should discount Pakistan at their own peril. Home condition might also favor them. They may not have the best team in the world on paper, but they have the team to beat any opponent, and have players who can change the course of the game from any situation.

 

England has also emerged as a very strong team. If they could repeat their success in the T20 edition of the World Cup during the one day version, of course with a little bit of luck at crucial stages of the tournament.

 

Sri Lanka are a good team, but I do not see them going all the way especially without Jayasuriya in their ranks at the top of the order. If key batsman Tilakratne Dilshan joins the ranks, he could turn around the fortunes of his team. The Sangarkara’s and Jayawardana’s are not much effective in one-day format, especially in the absence of big hitters like Jayasuriya at the top. They do not have a threatening bowling line up either.

 

My beloved Zimbabwe is one team about whom the less said, the better. They have some capable cricketers, but are failing as a unit. A couple of good games at the knockout might just give them an outside chance of winning the trophy.

 

The West Indian team of today is exactly the opposite of the West Indian team that participated in the first three editions of the prestigious tournament. I do not see West Indies winning this tournament, but cricket is a funny old game.

 

Bangladesh have the ability to upset quite a few teams in the tournament like they did to India in the previous editions. Ireland too can upset the big teams as they knocked out Pakistan in the initial stages of the tournament in the last edition of the World Cup. The rest of the teams, I guess, are mere participants.

 

Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.