Placed in Pool ‘A’, Australia has the best records in ICC Cricket World Cup history, winning it record four times. Australia showed signs of invincibleness when it recorded three straight World Cup triumphs from 1999 to 2007. Australia had previously won the title in 1987. Australia has won 74 percent of the matches it has played in the World Cup so far. Australian cricket team, also fondly called Kangaroos, is the top ranked cricket team at the moment and its one of the top title contenders. Its batsman George Bailey is the top ranked batsman in the side presently at No 6 while its pacer Mitchell Johnson sits at No 4.
Hosting the tournament several times, England cricket team qualified for the finals of the World Cup in 1979, 1987 and 1992, but it is yet to win a Cricket World Cup title. England has won just over 60 percent of its matches in the World Cup. The team is place in Pool ‘A’ and ranked No 5 presently. England’s pace attack will be headed by James Anderson, who jointly sits at No 4 along with Mitchell Johnson and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan.
Winning the title in 1996, Sri Lanka has won 31 World Cup matches while losing 32. Sri Lanka is ranked fourth in the international ranking with two of its batsmen – Kumar Sangkkara and Tillekeratne Dilshan in top ten list at No 4 and No 9 respectively. None of its bowlers is in top ten list. Rangana Herath is the top ranked bowler at No 20. Angelo Matthews leads all-rounders ranking table. Sri Lanka is also placed in Pool A.
Although competing at the international regularly, Bangladesh is still an underdog team. Ranked ninth, Bangladesh has been appearing regularly in the World Cup since the event’s 1999 edition. Bangladesh will be looking up to all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, ranked third in all-rounders list, to boost Bangladesh’s changes in the tournament. Bangladesh has won only 32 per cent of its matches. The team is placed in Pool A.
Although ranked at the eighth spot at the moment, New Zealand has made it to the semifinals of the tournament five times. New Zealand has won forty of the seventy matches it played in the World Cup events. Ross Taylor is the side’s top rank batsman at No 10 while Kyle Mills is the top ranked bowler at No 14 for Kiwis. However, the home advantage may give the team an edge. New Zealand is also placed in Pool A.
Afghanistan will play the first match of the World Cup tournament when it will face Bangladesh on February 18 next year. Afghanistan has made a rapid progress in cricket and has now qualified for its maiden ICC Cricket World Cup. They qualified for the biggest Cricket event on October 4 2013 when they defeated Kenya to finish second in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship. Afghanistan was confirmed as the 37th Associate Member of the ICC in 2013.
Down Under, Scotland will be featuring for the third time in the tournament, after qualifying for the event in 1999 and 2007. Coached by former England Test star Paul Collingwood, Scotland qualified by finishing on top of the Super Six table in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014. They have played eight matches and has lost all of them in World Cups.
Tipped to be the best side going in the World Cup, South Africa has three batsmen in Top Ten namely with AB de Villiers leading the table; Hashim Amla at No 3 and Quinton De Kock at No 7. While, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel lead a dangerous bowling attack, ranking at No 3 and No 10 respectively. South Africa played for the first time in the World Cup in 1992, after the fall of Apartheid regime, due to which South Africa was boycotted by the rest of the world previously. Placed in Pool B, South Africa also known as Protease is presently ranked at No 3.
Going into the World Cup to defend the title, India is only a fraction of a point behind top placed Australia at the moment on ranking table. India is only the third team to have won the World Cup more than once after Australia and West Indies. The first time they won the World Cup was in 1983. They became the first team to win the World Cup at home soil in the event’s last edition in 2011. India has won sixty per cent of its World Cup matches. Virat Kohli (No 2), Shikhar Dhawan (No 4) and skipper MS Dhoni (No 8) are top ranked batsmen. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja at No 8 and No 9 are its top ranked bowler. The team will begin its World Cup campaign with a match against archrival Pakistan on February 15 at Adelaide Oval.
Pakistan’s World Cup prospects sustain a huge blow as its top bowlers – World No 1 Saeed Ajmal and World No 8 Mohammad Hafeez have been barred from bowling for illegal bowling action one after another and it is unlikely that the duo would be cleared before the World Cup. However, occupying sixth spot in the international rankings, Pakistan will be putting its best to emulate their predecessors, who clinched the title in 1992 when it was last held Down Under, under the captaincy of Imran Khan. Pakistan has won 58 per cent of the matches it played in World Cups. Pakistan will begin the tournament campaign with a match against traditional rival. If Pakistan misses the services of its two top bowlers, towering Mohammad Irfan would be the top ranked bowler for the side, who is sitting at No 27. Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is the top ranked batsman at No 14.
Once produced many of the greatest cricketers, West Indies clinched the first two World Cup titles in 1975 and 1979. However, the team has since then only featured twice in the knock-out stages, reaching the semifinals in 1996 and the quarter-finals in 2011. West Indies has won 38 out of the 68 matches it has played so far in World Cups. Sunil Narine is the top ranked bowler at No 2, and after Saeed Ajmal has been, he has virtually taken the top spot. Meanwhile, Darren Bravo is the side’s top ranked batsman occupying lowly 38th spot.
Zimbabwe is featuring in the World Cups since 1983 and has won only ten of the 51 matches it has played. It is ranked tenth in the international circuit. Its top ranked batsman is Brendan Taylor at No 28 while Prosper Utseya is the top ranked bowler at No 40.
Having featured in last two World Cup editions, Ireland managed to pull big triumphs in both the events beating bigger team Pakistan and England respectively. Ireland is the first affiliate nation to qualify for Cricket World Cup 2015 through their dominance of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship 2011-2013. Ireland has won four out of the 15 matches it has played. Irish Paul Stirling is the top ranked batsman while George Dockrell is the top ranked bowler at No 35.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Coached by Pakistan’s World Cup 1992 winning team member and former pace bowler Aqib Javed, UAE has made it to a global event for only the third time. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has made it to the ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time since 1996. UAE finished second in the Super Six stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 to seal its place at the showpiece event.