Cricket World Cup 2015 group preview: India and South Africa should be the top two in Group B




Group B kicks off on the 15th of February, when South Africa plays Zimbabwe. On the same day however, it’s the mother of all cricketing battles – India taking on Pakistan! History is set to be rewritten on the 15th of February, as the global viewership for this game will exceed over a billion!

Cricket World Cup 2015 group preview: India and South Africa should be the top two in Group B

Cricket World Cup 2015 group preview: India and South Africa should be the top two in Group B

In our previous article, The Sports Mirror previewed and analyzed about the teams placed in Group A. In this article,  we will browse through the teams, which are a part of Group B.
INDIA

CAPTAIN: Mahendra Singh Dhoni

“Cometh the hour; cometh the man”! This adage is best suited for the Indian skipper. His blistering knock of 91* in the 2011 World Cup final is surely among the greatest ODI knocks of all time. It is often the pressure cooker of a situation, which gets the best out of MS Dhoni. The statement is backed with stats as well. In successful run chases, the Indian icon averages 103 at a strike rate of 90.20. It’s safe to say that cricket till date hasn’t found a better finisher than him! A superb World Cup for MS Dhoni with the bat will eventually mean a success for team India, as he remains to be the most imperative member of this side.

 

KEY PLAYERS:

Virat Kohli

Since the previous edition of the World Cup, the Delhi dasher has amassed 16 tons! Run making surely doesn’t get any classier than this. Kohli has been instrumental behind the glory achieved by team India. Kohli, like MS Dhoni, has mastered the art of chasing big totals. Be it the 183 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup or the 133* against Sri Lanka, Kohli has done everything with sheer ease. In the tri series though, he struggled, and his batting order was shuffled. He oscillated between the no.3 and no.4 slot. The run machine will be keen to regain his Midas touch, and ensure that India retains the World Cup.

Rohit Sharma

Sharma’s rise as a batsman has been simply meteoric. Since the 2011 World Cup, Sharma as an opener averages a colossal 54.11. The knack of Sharma playing the big innings and scoring “daddy hundreds” is also worth mentioning. Recently, in his only tri series game, Sharma played a dazzling knock of 138 against the Aussies at the MCG. His ability to pull and cut makes him a delightful watch as well. The onus will be on Rohit to provide the side with a solid start.

Mohammed Shami

The Bengal pacer has been in a dream run in the ODI’s. Shami has been India’s best bowler in the death. His yorkers and variations in his arsenal are crucial for the side. With the Aussie decks assisting him, his show with the new ball will matter a lot as well.
THE X FACTOR:

Stuart Binny

Criticism was in the air since Binny’s name popped up in the World Cup 15. To be fair, Binny has done extremely well in the chances given to him. In the tri series, Binny did relatively well with the bat. In the bowling, he was given the new ball, and surely didn’t disappoint. With the conditions ideally supporting him, Binny can surely be an asset.

 

STRENGTHS:

The strength of the Indian side without a second thought is in the batting front. In Kohli, Rohit, Raina and Dhoni, the team is equipped with serious match winners. No total seems colossal enough in front of the Indian batting lineup. Expect the Indian batsmen to come out all guns blazing in the mega event.

 

WEAKNESS:

Poor bowling added with inexperience mars the expectations of Indian fans. The Indian bowlers have been the butt of several jokes on social media platforms. Their numbers don’t help them either. The new ball bowlers have often failed in striking early, thus allowing the opposition in getting to a large total. At the end of the day, the batsmen alone cannot win you the games!

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: Virat Kohli ( 4278 runs at 55.55)
• Best Bowler: Ravindra Jadeja ( 105 wickets at 29.95)

 

EXPECTATION: SEMI FINALISTS

 

PAKISTAN

CAPTAIN: Misbah Ul Haq

The Pakistani captain has stood like a rock for his side, when the team has been in staggering trouble. Misbah, at 40 years, is set to play his last ODI tournament. His calm and soothing attitude makes him strong enough to carry the burden of the entire middle order. But for how long will he carry this burden?

 

KEY PLAYERS:

Ahmed Shahzad

An average of 34.82 to go with a strike rate of 72.02. These numbers are nowhere near justifying the talent of Shahzad, who on his day can be as explosive as anyone. The 23 year old though, has done well outside the subcontinent, and has tons in South Africa and New Zealand. His starts at the top will be crucial.

Mohammad Hafeez

Hafeez is in the race against time, to get his banned bowling action corrected. If he corrects it in the nick of time, then it will make a huge difference. His off breaks along with his steady batting at the top, make him a genuine all rounder. His performances will be significant for his side.

Mohammad Irfan

Towering at 7 feet 1 inch, Irfan can terrorize any batsman! The lively Australian pitches will further amplify the end product of his bowling. Irfan can provide the batsmen with some nasty chin music. However, it will be great fun to watch Irfan, who will be the pace spearhead for his side.
THE X FACTOR:

Shahid Afridi

Like Misbah, Afridi too retires at the end of the tournament. Afridi’s recent batting form will surely boost the expectations of Pakistani fans. Everyone around knows how brutal he can be with bat on his day! Not to forget, he was the leading wicket taker in the previous edition. His quick leg breaks cannot be taken for granted.

 

STRENGTHS:

In this Pakistani team, finding any clear strength is far from an easy task. However, it’s the raw talent which the team members have, which makes Pakistan an unpredictable side. For instance Shahzad, Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah are all massively talented players. If this talent is realized at the World Cup stage, then Pakistan is indeed the team to watch out for.
WEAKNESS:

The batting remains a patent weakness for the Pakistanis. Since the previous World Cup, Pakistan has successfully chased a 250+ total just once and that too against Bangladesh. That is some batting misery! Add to that some sorry selections; it only worsens things for the Pakistanis.

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: Mohammad Hafeez ( 2917 runs at 37.88)
• Best Bowler: Saeed Ajmal ( 134 wickets at 19.57)

 

EXPECTATION: QUARTER FINALISTS

 

SOUTH AFRICA

CAPTAIN: AB De Villiers

Recently AB broke yet another record. It was for the fastest ODI ton. Adam Gilchrist, the Aussie great also commented that AB was the “most valuable ODI player”. Gilly was spot on, and AB indeed remains to be a modern day ODI master.

 

KEY PLAYERS:

Hashim Amla

Amla has been on a record breaking spree ever since he entered the ODI arena. No condition or pitch is uncomfortable for Amla. Run making for him is just another hobby. He would want to continue with this hobby in the World Cup as well.

Faf du Plessis

Faf in the middle order is as good as anyone. With the ability to carry on like a wizard, and if needed, to accelerate like a devil, Faf remains special.

Dale Steyn

Steyn needs no introduction. He is probably the only pacer in world cricket, who has tormented every batting lineup in every condition. Let the pitch be dusty or green, it just will not affect Steyn. Getting the breakthroughs early on is a regular chore for Steyn.

 

THE X FACTOR:

JP Duminy

Duminy as a finisher has been excellent. When he gets going, no ground is large enough for him. His handy off breaks mean that he can easily provide the captain with 5-6 overs. What more does a skipper need?

 

STRENGTHS:

The current South African team is what cricket analysts call as “complete”. The commanding batting lineup is ably supported by the fiery bowling attack. This is an ideal opportunity for the South Africans to shed the “chokers” tag. Among the teams in Group B, South Africa is the only side in form. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they remain undefeated throughout the competition.

 

WEAKNESS:

The ironic weakness of the South African team is in the dreaded “C” word. Yes, in choking in crucial matches. The following fact sums it all. South Africa has never won a knockout game in the World Cups!

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: AB De Villiers ( 2936 runs at 66.72)
• Best Bowler: Morne Morkel ( 78 wickets at 25.42)

 

EXPECTATION: FAVOURITES

 

WEST INDIES

CAPTAIN: Jason Holder

Holder was recently appointed as the captain amidst turmoil within the West Indies setup. The three highly impactful players in Bravo, Pollard and Narine are missing. That will make his job a lot more difficult.

 

KEY PLAYERS:

Chris Gayle

The free-spirited Jamaican is the most destructive batsman on his day. His massive willow does the talking more often than not. The opposing camp will better have to run for cover, if the muscular opener gets in his groove.

Marlon Samuels

Experience is something which Samuels has in his arsenal. His contributions in the middle order will make a vast difference in the team total. It will be essential of Samuels, to guide the younger members of the brigade through.

Kemar Roach

In the previous World Cup, the hattrick taken by Roach is still fondly remembered. Roach’s biggest asset is his absolute pace, with which he can terrify the batsmen. On that pacy Perth wicket, it will be real fun to watch Roach steaming in.

 

THE X FACTOR:

Darren Bravo

The junior Bravo can defend as well as attack with ease. He had a fruitful tour of Australia in 2012/13. He will be keen to do even better than that. Bravo, along with Samuels will form the crux of the West Indies middle order.

 

STRENGTHS:

The one major strength of this side is in having some players who can single handedly win them the games. The likes of Gayle, Samuels, Sammy, Russel can change the complexion of a game within overs. In the knockouts, if even one of them clicks, then the West Indies fans are in for some delight!

 

WEAKNESS:

It’s fair to say that this side has more weaknesses than strengths. Not going with the full strength squad is the main weakness. Inexperience of several members is another worrying factor. Graeme Smith, the former South African captain said that it will be tough for the West Indies to even make it to the quarters.

 

STATS CORNER (Statistics since World Cup 2011):
• Best Batsman: Marlon Samuels ( 1888 runs at 37.76)
• Best Bowler: Sunil Narine ( 73 wickets at 26.49)

 

EXPECTATION: QUARTER FINALISTS

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