The Cricket World Cup is nearly upon us, with ten teams battling it out for glory in England and Wales this summer.
There is a new format for this tournament, as all ten teams are included in one group with the top four then qualifying for the semi-finals.
We have assessed the chances of every team and predicted who we think will lift the trophy….
By making it to the World Cup ahead of the likes of Zimbabwe and Ireland, Afghanistan have proved that they are a team on the rise. They were awarded Test status in 2017 and won their first ever World Cup match in 2015 when they defeated Scotland.
They have some handy players including all-rounders Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi, along with leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who is currently ranked as the third best ODI bowler on the planet. Whilst they lack the quality of the other teams in the tournament, they are a potential banana skin and nobody will want to be the team who slip up against them.
Prediction – They will claim a big scalp by beating one of the more established sides, but group stage elimination and probably the foot of the table awaits.
The reigning champions defeated New Zealand in the 2015 final, but they have been hit by a number of off-field problems in recent times. David Warner and Steve Smith come back into the fold to boost the batting line-up after their 12-month bans for ball tampering ended.
Despite all of their problems, Australia still have arguably the best bowling attack in limited overs cricket, with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins having the ability to trouble any side in the world.
Prediction – There will be a real determination to put Australia in the sporting headlines for good reasons once again, and they should have enough to reach the semi-finals with the quality they possess.
Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim believes that Bangladesh can spring a surprise by reaching the last four and their pedigree is certainly improving all the time.
They reached the semi-finals in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and are currently ranked number seven in the world. But given the format change, question marks will remain as to whether they can win enough of their nine matches to sneak into a top four spot.
Prediction – Not to be underestimated but it is unlikely that they will win five or six matches, which is likely to be the requirement for the semi-finals. Out in the group.
It has been a stunning revival in the last two or three years after an underwhelming 2015 tournament. Under Eoin Morgan’s leadership, England have become a force in 50-over cricket and the possess a number of world-class players.
The ability to consistently produce scores of 400+ and a skilful bowling group should mean that England make it to the semi-finals and from there the tournament is up for grabs for any team.
Prediction – World Champions. They have the batting firepower with Jason Roy, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler and the bowling attack will be more suited to home conditions.
Ranked number two in the world, India are one of the most consistent sides in the international cricket and they have a team packed full of quality.
Virat Kohli looks a strong bet to score the most runs in the tournament, and a handy crop of spinners will prove tricky for sides on turning pitches.
Prediction – It will take a special performance to beat them and they should make it through the group comfortably. Beaten finalists.
If a batting line-up that includes Martin Guptill, captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor all fire consistently then New Zealand will be a threat.
They are still up there amongst the best sides in the world and are likely to be in the frame for a top four spot.
Prediction – Much will depend on the position they are in after seven matches, with their last two group games being against Australia and England. Will narrowly miss out on the semi-finals.
You never know what you’re going to get from this Pakistan side, and it’s hard to predict what kind of tournament they are going to have.
They won the 2017 Champions Trophy from out of nowhere, and they have the ability to beat any side in the world.
Prediction – Likely to shock a top side in the group, but similarly you can see them slipping up against a Bangladesh or an Afghanistan. Group stage elimination.
The notorious ‘bottlers’ of World Cup cricket South Africa still possess some outstanding players including Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir.
They take on England in their first game and if they can win that one when all the pressure will be on England then they could be set for a good tournament.
Prediction – It’s a close call between South Africa and West Indies for the last semi-final place, but South Africa should just about have enough to reach the last four.
This Sri Lanka team don’t possess the big names of previous tournaments any more and it’s hard to see them winning anywhere near enough matches to progress.
Lasith Malinga is still around though and a lot of the responsibility will fall on his shoulders to help his team compete against the very best.
Prediction – It’s a team in transition and the better teams should beat them. Out in the group stage, and without the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene, that is to be expected.
Chris Gayle’s last hurrah on this stage should be entertaining and you can expect him to have a great tournament.
The bowling attack is also the best it has been for a while and they should be the reckoning for a top four spot. But will they be consistent enough?
Prediction – As mentioned before, it’s close between South Africa and West Indies for fourth place. We expect them to just miss out but don’t rule them out if Gayle fires consistently.
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