The build-up has begun. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is now less than 100 days away. The tournament, which will be held in England after a gap of 20 years, will revert to the 1992 World Cup format in which all the teams play each other. One team will play a total of nine games and the top four sides will qualify directly for the semi-finals. This is the fifth time that England are hosting the World Cup, having played hosts in 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999. West Indies won the first two editions while India won the World Cup in 1983. Australia started their domination with a win over Pakistan in Lord’s in 1999.
With the World Cup fast approaching, here is how each team will be aiming to build momentum for the tournament which will begin on May 30 between England and South Africa at The Oval.
The team have won nine consecutive bilateral ODI series and are building serious momentum. Eoin Morgan’s side are the best team in the ODI format currently. In their previous ICC tournament, they lost in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy to Pakistan. With India and Australia winning the 2011 and 2015 World Cup in their own backyard, 2019 presents England their greatest-ever chance to break their jinx in the 50-over World Cup. One feels that if England do not win the World Cup now, they might never win it.
The five-time World Champions are currently undergoing a slump. They lost both the bilateral ODI series at home to South Africa and India. With some of their key players returning, they will be hoping to defend their title. However, in their last eight ODIs in England, Australia have lost six and two were no-results. This edition will be an uphill task for them.
Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma will be the key for the Indian cricket team in England.
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team are one of the favourites to win the trophy this time. In the last three years, they have lost just one bilateral ODI series but it came in England. They won a bilateral series in Australia for the first time while they eliminated their 10-year jinx in New Zealand. The team is building serious momentum and it will require something special for opposition teams to prevent them for reaching the knock-outs.
This team should never-ever be underestimated. In bilateral series, they blow hot and cold. In ICC tournaments, their mercurial nature makes them the ultimate dark horse. In their title triumphs of 1992, 2009 and 2017, they started off poorly but turned around their fortunes in spectacular style. They will be mounting another strong challenge in a country where they have done well in the past.
The team finally broke their knock-out jinx and entered the final in the previous edition of the World Cup in Australia. Although their momentum took a hit with a 1-4 drubbing at the hands of India, New Zealand are forever the dark horses and they can surprise a few opposition.
They are forever associated with the word ‘chokers’. Be it their exits in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015, they have gone out in bizarre and heart-breaking circumstances. The team builds momentum before the tournament but they somehow squander the opportunity when the main tournament is played. Will 2019 witness another choke or will they break the shackles minus AB de Villiers?
They have endured a horrible 2018, losing most of their games across formats. In the previous ICC tournament, Sri Lanka sprung a surprise by defeating India. However, they have a young crop of players and the format of the tournament is such that they can go the distance provided they are consistent.
They managed to squeeze into the main event by the skin of their teeth. They had to play the ICC qualifiers in Zimbabwe and they entered the final. Although they lost to Afghanistan, they are currently experiencing a resurgence after winning the Test series against England. With Chris Gayle announcing that this will be his last ODI stint, West Indies will be determined to give him a fitting send-off.
They experienced the ultimate high by entering the quarterfinal of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. However, since then, they have experienced a slump. They have an experienced core in Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza and Mushfiqur Rahim. With Mustafizur Rahman getting back to form, Bangladesh have the potential to go the whole distance.
The team has sparkled on the world stage and have put in some memorable performances. If they manage to upset one or two teams in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019, then it will not be a surprise. All hopes hinge on Rashid Khan, their champion legspinner and some exciting players like Mujeeb Ur Rahman Zadran.
The format of the tournament gives all the teams a chance to stay in contention. Which team will come out on top and lift the trophy? That question will be answered in July.