World Cup teams: Strengths and key players

Friday, February 18, 2011

NEW DELHI - The 14-team cricket World Cup will begin with the India-Bangladesh match in Dhaka Saturday. Here’s a peek into the strengths of the teams, their key players and their past World Cup performances.

Group A:

Australia: The four-time champions will be looking to lift their fifth World Cup title. After losing in the Ashes, they came back strongly to win the ODI series 6-1 and proved why they are the No.1 team in ODIs.

Key man: Captain Ricky Ponting, coming out of a finger fracture, will be the key man for Australia. They don’t have good spinners, but Steve Smith could cause a surprise with his leg-spins.

World Cup record: Played 69, Won 51, Lost 17, Tied 1

Winners: 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007

Squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Cameron White, Callum Ferguson, David Hussey, Tim Paine, Steven Smith, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger, Shaun Tait. Coach: Tim Nielsen


Sri Lanka: They are having a great run in ODIs and won every tournament in 2010 except the Asia Cup. Runners-up in 2007 and winners in 1996, they are one of the favourites and will surely be formidable on home soil.

Key men: All-rounder Angelo Matthews will surely be one of the strengths of the team. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan can also be destructive.

World Cup record: Played 57, Won 25, Lost 30, Tied 1, No result 1

Winners: 1996

Squad: Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath. Coach: Travor Bayliss (Australia)


Pakistan: The side has been affected with spot-fixing controversies. But they are also a side that thrives on such controversies. They defeated New Zealand 3-2 in the ODI series recently. With experienced players like captain Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Razzaq, they have a side that has the potential to win the World Cup.

Key man: Fast bowler Umar Gul can be lethal with his swing in day-night matches. Batsman Ahmed Shehzad, 19, scored a century against New Zealand in Hamilton last month.

World Cup record: Played 56, Won 30, Lost 24, No result 2

Winners: 1992

Squad: Shahid Afridi (captain), Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Junaid Khan, Younus Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Ahmed Shehzad. Coach: Waqar Younis


New Zealand: They are having one of the worst runs. They were on a 11-match losing streak last year and have won only two of their past 16 ODIs. But the appointment of South African pace legend Allan Donald as the bowling coach has come at the right time. In coach John Wright, they have some one who has great knowledge about sub-continent conditions. The Kiwis can always spring a surprise.

Key man: Skipper Daniel Vettori is one of the best all-rounders in ODI. The left-arm spinner also has a great loop, which can fox even the best in the world. Middle-order batsman Kane Williamson,20, will be the one to watch out for. He scored a century on Test debut in India last year and also scored a century in Bangladesh last year.

World Cup record: Played 62, Won 35, Lost 26, No result 1

Squad: Daniel Vettori (captain), Hamish Bennett, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock. Coach: John Wright


Zimbabwe: They were once a competitive side in world cricket but the road to re-acceptance is long and winding. Their best performance came in 1999 and 2003, when they reached the Super Six stage. Their batsmen have to try to play out the 50 overs. If they manage a respectable total, then they can step-up their game with some tight fielding. Their pace attack is weak but the spin trio of Ray Price, Greg Lamb and Graeme Cremer could be dangerous.

Key men: Batsman Brendan Taylor has scored centuries against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa in the past 18 months and he will be a treat to watch. Regis Chakabva, 23, is the youngest in the squad. He top-scored with 45 when Bangladesh were defeated in Dhaka in December.

World Cup record: Played 45, Won 8, Lost 33, Tied 1, No result 3

Squad: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Regis Chakabva, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Gregory Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Christopher Mpofu, Raymond Price, Edward Rainsford, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams. Coach: Alan Butcher (England)


Kenya: They surprised everybody by defeating the West Indies when they made their debut in 1996. They also made the semi-final in 2003. But since then, Kenyan cricket has been dogged by match-fixing and corruption scandals. Veteran Steve Tikolo has come out of retirement to guide the team during the World Cup, but head coach Eldine Baptiste and newly appointed fielding consultant Jonty Rhodes have a tough task at hand.

Key men: The 39-year-old Tikolo, a former captain, will be playing his fifth World Cup. The batting will depend on Tikolo, who will be the prime scorer of the team.

World Cup record: Played 23, Won 6, Lost 16, No result 1.

Squad: Jimmy Kamande (captain), Seren Waters, Alex Obanda, David Obuya, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, Tanmay Mishra, Rakep Patel, Maurice Ouma, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Peter Ongondo, Shem Ngoche, James Ngoche. Coach: Eldine Baptiste (West Indies)


Canada: This will be their fourth World Cup appearance, having taken part in 1979, 2003 and 2007. They have won only one match - against Bangladesh in Durban in the 2003 World Cup - but have no chance here.

Key men: The 40-year-old John Davison will be the most experienced player in the team and if he can repeat his 67-ball century against the West Indies in 2003, Canada could well pull one back.

World Cup record: Played 12, Won 1, Lost 11.

Squad: Ashish Bagai (captain), Rizwan Cheema, Harvir Baidwan, Nitish Kumar, Hiral Patel, Tyson Gordon, Henry Osinde, John Davison, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Parth Desai, Karl Whatham, Khurram Chohan, Jimmy Hansra, Zubin Surkari, Balaji Rao. Coach: Pubudu Dassanayake (Sri Lanka)


Group B

India: Can they end their 28-year-long wait to win their second World Cup? They certainly are the favourites on home soil. From a destructive batting line-up and swing bowlers to a versatile spin attack, they have all the ingredients that can make them the World Champions. But playing in front of home crowds will certainly put some pressure on them.

Key men: It has to be batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. But Virender Sehwag can’t be left out as well.

World Cup record: Played 58, Won 32, Lost 25, No result 1

Winners: 1983

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Piyush Chawla, Ravichandran Ashwin, S. Sreesanth. Coach: Gary Kirsten (South Africa)


South Africa: Since their first World Cup in 1992, they are always seen as favourites in every edition of the mega event. This time, however, they are not being seen among the three favourites. Expectation might be reduced, and that should help the “perennial chokers”. Only four players in their team - Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Robin Peterson - have the experience of playing in a World Cup and quartet will be the key to the Proteas’ chances.

Key men: It has to be Jacques Kallis. The veteran all-rounder is in a great form and has the experience of playing in the sub-continent. Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir will be South Africa’s lead spinner. It was only last month that he got South African citizenship and was elegible to play for the national team.

World Cup record: Played 40, Won 25, Lost 13, Tied 2.

Squad: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk. Coach: Corrie van Zyl


England: Their preparation for the World Cup has been the worst as they lost the ODI series in Australia 1-6. But they didn’t field a strong bowling line-up in Australia and several players were injured after winning the Ashes. Last year they won their first world title when they lifted the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean under Paul Collingwood. Can Andrew Strauss guide England to their maiden 50 overs World Cup win?

Key men: Without any doubt it will be dashing batsman Kevin Pietersen, who will be opening the batting with captain Strauss. Pietersen has the ability to destroy any attack on slow pitches of the sub-continent. Ravi Bopara is also a big hitter and will be crucial in the middle-order.

World Cup record: Played 59, Won 36, Lost 22, No result 1

Squad: Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy. Coach: Andy Flower (Zimbabwe)


West Indies: They are unpredictable and vulnerable as well. Since June 2009, they have managed wins only against Zimbabwe, Ireland and Canada. Tough for them in this World Cup.

Key men: Chris Gayle can be destructive, but has not hit a century since January 2009. Darren Bravo, Dwayne’s stepbrother, will be one of the talents to watch out for.

World Cup record: Played 57, Won 35, Lost 21, No result 1

Winners: 1975, 1979

Squad: Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh, Andre Rusell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Adrian Barath. Coach: Ottis Gibson


Bangladesh: They shocked everybody in the 2007 World Cup by defeating India in the group stage and scalped South Africa in the second round. In the run-up to the World Cup they have been in great form, having just beaten New Zealand 4-0 and Zimbabwe 3-1 in their past two ODI series. On home pitches they can be dangerous with their spin-based attack.

Key men: Left-handed batsman Tamim Iqbal’s pyrotechnics are well known. Chance for batsman Mohammad Ashraful to showcase his talent.

World Cup record: Played 20, Won 5, Lost 14, No result 1

Squad: Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Shahriar Nafees, Raqibul Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim, Naeem Islam, Mahmudullah, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Nazmul Hossain, Suhrawadi Shuvo. Coach: Jamie Siddons (Australia)


Ireland: Four years ago in the World Cup they took the cricket world by storm by defeating Pakistan in the group stage and Bangaldesh in the Super Eights. From a team comprising three professionals, now they have 13, out of which seven are contracted with English county teams.

Key men: Ed Joyce has the experience of playing for England before deciding to play for his country of birth.

World Cup record: Played 9, Won 2, Lost 6, Tied 1.

Squad: William Porterfield (captain), Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, Niall O’Brien, Kevin O’Brien, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, John Mooney, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Gary Wilson, Andrew White, Ed Joyce. Coach: Phil Simmons (West Indies)


The Netherlands: They will be playing their fourth World Cup. Overall, they have played 14 World Cup matches but have won only two - against Namibia and Scotland. However, in the 2009 World Twenty20, they won their opening match against England. This time, as they open their campaign against England in Nagpur can they repeat their 2009 show?

Key men: Essex all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate has the experience of playing top flight cricket and will be crucial to the team’s chances. Tommy Cooper will also be a vital cog in the middle order.

World Cup record: Played 14, Won 2, Lost 12.

Squad: Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Baresi, Mudassar Bukhari, Atse Buurman, Tom Cooper, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Bradley Kruger, Bernard Loots, Adeel Raja, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Szwarczynski, Ryan ten Doeschate, Berend Westdijk, Bas Zuiderent. Coach: Peter Drinnen (Australia)

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