Cricket World Cup 2015 group preview: Australia and New Zealand should be the top two in Group A




With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 just around the corner, the enthusiasm within cricket lovers is bound to be sky-high. Cricket lovers, expect their respective team to achieve the ultimate glory, and reach the pinnacle of cricket – by winning the World Cup.

Cricket World Cup 2015 group preview: Australia and England should be the top two in Group A

Cricket World Cup 2015 group preview: Australia and England should be the top two in Group A

The 2015 edition of the World Cup will be jointly hosted by the Trans-Tasman nations – Australia and New Zealand. The World Cup returns to Oceania after a span of 23 years. The World Cup format remains the same as 2011; with 14 teams split into two groups. Top 4 teams from each group will fight it out in the quarters. The 4 winners from the quarters then play the semis, and eventually the top 2 teams play the final.

The teams are split in two Groups – A and B. Ahead of the tournament, The Sports Mirror previews the two groups of competing teams and below is an in-depth analysis of the top contending teams of Group A:

 

AUSTRALIA

CAPTAIN: George Bailey / Michael Clarke

Going into the World Cup, Australia face an early dilemma as regular skipper Michael Clarke faces injury issues. In case Clarke doesn’t get fit in time, it will be Bailey, who will lead the Kangaroos on the 14th of February against England. Bailey hasn’t been in the best of form with the bat. Since 2014, Bailey averages just 22.26 with the bat. Once Clarke gets fit, it could even be Bailey who would have to make way for him in the playing XI. With pressure mounting on Bailey, it will be interesting to see his approach in the World Cup.

 

KEY PLAYERS:

David Warner

Warner has the ability to decimate bowling lineups with sheer ease. His form since the last 15 months has been simply phenomenal. With just 3 ODI tons in his kitty, the muscular lad would want to add a few more tons. If the opposition bowlers do not get him out within the mandatory powerplay, then they are in for some serious trouble!

Steve Smith

The opposing bowlers have just been a joke for this profusely talented batsman. Recently, it were the Indian bowlers who were tormented by the New South Wales batsman. With an icy cool head and ability to play some mind-boggling shots, Smith can single handedly guide the Aussies to glory.

Mitchell Johnson

Mitch has crucified batsmen in the last year or so with his sheer pace and hostility. With the Aussie decks assisting him greatly, expect the left arm pacer to be at his destructive best. His “thunderbolts” are enough, to send jitters in the opposing camp!

 

THE X FACTOR:

Josh Hazlewood

Hazlewood has impressed everyone in the cricketing fraternity with his show with the new ball. His line and length make him a massive asset for the side. He is a fitting second fiddle to Mitchell Johnson.

 

STRENGTHS:

The strengths of this powerful Aussie side are not finite. Along with the destructive batting, it’s their brutal bowling audacity as well, which makes them among the favorites. A clear strength for them though is in their all round abilities. The Aussies have as many as 4 complete all rounders. A side cannot get more complete than this!

 

WEAKNESS:

The only hiccup for the Aussies would be the individual form of a few players. Shane Watson and George Bailey have had forgettable outings in the last 12 months. The fitness of Michael Clarke doesn’t help the cause either.

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: George Bailey ( 1962 runs at 41.74)
• Best Bowler: Mitchell Johnson ( 79 wickets at 24.27)

 

EXPECTATION: FINALISTS

 

ENGLAND

CAPTAIN: Eoin Morgan

The recently appointed England captain led his team efficiently in the tri series recently. Personally his form with the willow hasn’t been worth praising. Nonetheless, his skills of doing well under pressure will be handy. One can expect him to lead from the front.

 

KEY PLAYERS:

Ian Bell

The flamboyant stroke maker will have the responsibility of providing the team with a solid foundation. An ODI average of 37.34 at a strike rate of 77.15 isn’t something which justifies Ian’s potential. His array of shots will be needed by England, if they are to do well.

Joe Root

Root has been consistent in the middle order. In the middle overs, Root can rotate the strike with sheer ease and then can eventually accelerate. His run making skills will matter a lot for England.

James Anderson

Anderson displayed his lethal bowling abilities in the tri series. The coveted Indian batsmen were all at sea against his deliveries. His early breakthroughs often provide the momentum for England. It will be the same story this time around as well.

 

THE X FACTOR:

Moeen Ali

Moeen has been terrific for England to say the least. His attacking batting at the top is crucial. But more than that, it’s his off breaks which are vital. He is indeed the guy with a golden arm. The wickets column just seconds that statement!

 

STRENGTHS:

The English bowling is bound to be the positive of this side. In Anderson, Woakes, Broad and Finn, the England side seem to be a complete bowling unit. The accuracy of all the four bowlers has been sensational. If England is to script history this time around, then it will have to be the bowlers, who will have to do something extraordinary.
WEAKNESS:

The clear weakness of this inexperienced side is in its way of succumbing under pressure. Rewind to the Champions Trophy 2013 Final, and you will remember how the England players made a mess of an easy run chase. Or more recently, against Australia in the tri series final, when England succumbed to pressure!

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: Alastair Cook ( 2346 runs at 37.83)
• Best Bowler: Steven Finn ( 75 wickets at 27.29)

 

EXPECTATION: QUARTER FINALISTS

 

NEW ZEALAND

CAPTAIN: Brendon McCullum

It’s fair to say that Brendon McCullum has been the best ODI captain since the last 12 months. His attacking instincts and his approach of going for the kill makes the Kiwis a daunting side. McCullum though will have to find form with the bat. He recently got a ton against Sri Lanka, but then followed it up with a string of poor scores.

 

KEY PLAYERS:

Kane Williamson

Williamson has been so brilliant that Indian great Sunil Gavaskar has already termed him as a “future legend”. His razor sharp technique forms the crux of his batting. Since January 2014, Williamson averages 69.23 at a strike rate of 89.77. The numbers speak for themselves!

Ross Taylor

The middle order batsman has been special for the Kiwis. His ability to accelerate at the end of an innings remains special. With Williamson, he gives the Kiwis a massive strategic advantage.

Tim Southee

Southee with the shining new ball has been exceptional. The swing which he generates early on makes him hard to negate. The Indians were miserable against Southee when they last toured New Zealand. If he is successful in providing the early breakthroughs, then don’t be surprised if the Kiwis do something special.

 

THE X FACTOR:

Corey Anderson

The bulky all rounder needs no introduction! If you thought that it was just his batting which was a threat for the opposition, then you’re mistaken. With the ball as well, Corey remains an asset. His lusty blows at the end make a great difference in the outcome of the match.

 

STRENGTHS:

Even though the Kiwis are settled in all three departments, it’s their batting which shines out. Recently, they were reduced to 93 for 5 in 20 overs. At the end of the 50 overs the total was at 360 for 5! The short boundaries in New Zealand help their cause as well. With a few of their batsmen being in the form of their lives, expect this talented side to do well.

 

WEAKNESS:

Like England, the apparent weakness for New Zealand is choking under pressure. The Kiwis in their World Cup history have won just one knockout game! The struggles faced by the Black Caps are evident in that fact!

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: Kane Williamson ( 2100 runs at 51.21)
• Best Bowler: Mitchell McClenaghan ( 66 wickets at 24.83)

 

EXPECTATION: SEMI FINALISTS

 

SRI LANKA

CAPTAIN: Angelo Mathews

The Sri Lankan captain has been in a dream run since the last couple of years. By far, he has been the most prolific all rounder in the cricketing fraternity over the last couple of years. His individual form with the willow, as well as with the ball has been outstanding. The same cannot be said about his team form. Sri Lanka as a team was annihilated in India and New Zealand. The skipper would have to lead from the front, if legends Sangakkara and Jayawardene are to be given a fitting send off.

 

KEY PLAYERS:

Kumar Sangakkara

Since the 2011 World Cup, Sangakkara has been the most successful ODI batsman in terms of runs scored. The Sri Lankan legend has scored 4529 runs since the 2011 World Cup ended. The solid batsman’s form will particularly influence the outcome for the Sri Lankan team.

Mahela Jayawardene

That ton from the artistic batsman in the 2011 World Cup final still remains a special memory for cricket lovers. Mahela would want to play more such knocks, if Sri Lanka is to march through the tournament. This competition will be the last time when cricket viewers will witness Jayawardene play.

Lasith Malinga

Question marks still loom over the fitness of Lasith Malinga. If he is deemed fit, then Sri Lanka’s chances of reaching glory will greatly prosper. He still remains to be the best death bowler. His toe crushers will determine Sri Lanka’s fortune greatly.

 

THE X FACTOR:

Tillakaratne Dilshan

The opener recently had a fantastic tour of New Zealand, where he scored two tons. Dilshan was the leading run getter in the previous edition of the World Cup. If that is to happen this time around as well, then Sri Lankan fans should be highly optimistic about the team’s show in the grand event.

 

STRENGTHS:

Going into the World Cup, the Sri Lankan side is the most experienced side. The trio of Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Dilshan has alone played more than 1000 ODI’s. That experience will be a massive boost, as the side will have experienced campaigners to guide the team through.

 

WEAKNESS:

Uncertainty over batting positions remains a critical issue. Dilshan has fallen short of supportive partners. As a result, there has been excess burden on Dilshan to perform. With Jayawardene to open if needed the middle order then becomes weak. Dinesh Chandimal’s poor form isn’t helping the cause either.

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: Kumar Sangakkara ( 4529 runs at 48.69)
• Best Bowler: Lasith Malinga ( 144 wickets at 27.95)

 

EXPECTATION: QUARTER FINALISTS

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