Here is a snappy look at all the test playing teams and their chances at the show piece event which is to be held in India, Srilanka and Bangladesh from 19th, February 2011.
Australia may have lost the ashes by a huge margin and convincingly, but there one day form is total opposite. They have thrashed England in the recent ODI series and are still the NO1 side according to the ICC Cricket ratings. Australia have been the most successful team in the World Cup as they have played in the final of the last four and won the last three editions of the biggest event of the game. With Shaun Tait and Bret Lee Australia have a dangerous opening bowler pair. Following them up are Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger. Shane Watson is settled and performing well and John Hastings another allrounder. Brad Haddin ever effective with Tim Paine also included. If Ponting and Micheal Hussey get fit and Micheal Clarke, Cameron White, David Hussey in support added Australia have a strong middle order. Their only concern is the spin bowling department which lacks the edge and their first choice bowler Nathan Hauritz is still injured thing don't look any better. Still Australia are favorites to reach the Semi-Final of the 2011 World Cup.
Squad: Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (WK), Ricky Ponting (Captain), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Cameron White, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Doug Bollinger.
Although Bangladesh whitewashed NewZealand 4-0 and beat Zimbabwe 3-1 in their last two series, they are playing on their home turf, they have not as threatening, but good spin bowling attack with Abdul Razzak, yet it is difficult to see them progressing them to the Quarter Final round of the World Cup. Tamim Iqbal and their captain Shakib-al-Hasan will be the most important players for them and Muhammad Ashraful will have to perform well and consistent if Bangladesh are to make any impact in this competition. Although they are capable to upsetting any good team on their day, the more interesting thing will be to see how they perform against the associate teams.
Squad: Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Shahriar Nafees, Raqibul Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim (WK), Naeem Islam, Mahmudullah, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Nazmul Hossain, Suhrawadi Shuvo.
Just before the ODI series with Australia began everyone would have been sure that England are favorites for the World Cup, but things have turned around particularly quickly. Poor performance against Australia and lots of injuries has haunted England badly. They have in Andrew Strauss an inspirational captain but they don't have a settled opening pair. Matt Prior has been included in the team as an opener and was preferred over Steve Davies at the last time. England middle order has to click with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell they have a few options. Ian Morgan has been s key factor in England's performance in the shorter format and he will be the key. James Andersen, Stuart Broad are the new ball partners and can be dangerous. Their X-Factor along with Ian Morgan will be off spinner Grame Swann who is currently the best spinner in the game.
Squad: Andrew Strauss (Captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior (WK), Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.
India are considered as out and out favorites for the World Cup and rightly so. Although they lost the ODI series in South Africa but that will not matter much as they have a settled side, They have been the most successful team over the past year, they have the most experienced players, most importantly they have the luxury of playing on their home grounds until the very final match and thier spin department is safe with Harbhajan Singh. Sehwag and Gambhir are the most explosive opening pair. Sachin Tendulkar is in the form of his life. Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli will have to contribute a lot during the middle and latter stages, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will also be a key factor. But the one problem they might have is that they don't have a good bowling partner for Zaheer Khan and also a bowler who can bowl quick and no other specialist spinner of name. yet India are the favorites to reach the finals.
Squad: M.S.Dhoni (Captain & WK), Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, R. Ashwin, P.Chawla, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel.
They Enter the World Cup with a good reputation in the previous editions but on the worst form ever. They have lost 13 of their last 14 matches, Including a 0-4 whitewash against Bangladesh. They have just changed their coaching staff, batting order and have tried every possible thing so gain some sort of momentum but have failed. Their most important player will be Brenden McCullum depending on how New Zealand use him. Daniel Vettori has been the lone warrior up till now. Martin Guptill has been in good touch but needs to get big scores. Ross Taylor should also step up and stabilize the middle order which falters a lot. Jessey Ryder will have to give New Zealand a good and fast start. The plus point New Zealand have is their abundance of all rounders. Overall there are not much expectations from them this time.
Squad: Daniel Vettori (Captain), James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Jesse Ryder, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock, Nathan McCullum, Brendon McCullum (WK), Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Hamish Bennett, Tim Southee.
Who would have thought that the Pakistani Cricket team will be considered if not the most, still favorites for the World Cup after all of what has happened in the Past year. They have won their first test series after 4 years and first ODI series after almost 2.5 years recently in New Zealand and have looked in great shape and enthusiasm just before the big event. Call it anything Pakistan have perhaps the most well balanced side for the World Cup. They have the young Ahmed Shehzad and M. Hafeez who will open the innings with Wicket Keeper Kamran Akmal also capable of opening the innings. The middle order is also strong with the likes of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-haq who are the backbone on the team and will have to carry the innings in the middle overs so that Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq who are the most dangerous low middle order can explode at will. Sohail Tanvir will have the variety and in Umar Gull, Shoaib Akhtar, Wahab Riaz Pakistan have three bowlers who can bowl around 145mph. The spin attack is also potent with Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal share the load.
Squad: Shahid Afridi (Captain), Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal (WK), Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir, Ahmed Shehzad.
They have perhaps had the most successful build up to the World Cup winning the ODI series Against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India. Their opening pair looks solid with Grame Smith and Hshim Amla who has been the most successful batsman over the past year. The middle order is also in shape with the likes of Kallis who will be a big factor in holding the innings, AB DeVillers who will keep the wickets, JP Duminy and Colin Ingram. Bowling is also strongest with the likes of Dale Steen and Morne Morkel. South Africa have included the Pakistani born leg spinner Imran Tahir in their squad and heve penned their hopes on him for the spin bowling department. Like always South Africa have all the preparations completed and are yet again one of the favorites but the only weak point which actually turns out to haunt them every time is their ability to Choke at important stages. If they overcome that, then hey sure will finish among the top for at least.
Squad: Graeme Smith (Captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (WK), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk (WK).
They were the first country to announce the team for the World Cup so that the players can jell together and practice, but they did not get much time for that as rain washed away more than half of the test series and the full one day series as well. Srilanka have not included Sanath Jayasuria and Chaminda Vass in their squad yet they are considered one of the favorites mostly because they also will be playing infront of their home crowd. Muthia Muralitharan and Ajhanta Mendis with Rangna Herath make a strong spin bowling attack, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakara provide the experience but Srilanka have a weak lower middle order although they have Angelo Mathews later and Tilkarathne Dilshan as an opener who can explode anytime. Lasith Malinga will have their potent up front. Srilanka will some how have to work hard all through the tournament if they are to win it.
Squad: Kumar Sangakkara (Captain & WK), 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.
They have been quiet in their build up to the World Cup. The Inclusion of Ramnaresh Sarawan has strengthened their middle order where Shivnarine Chanderpaul is already present. Chris Gayle will explode at the start with Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard providing the flurry in the dying stages of the innings. West Indies although have some good batsman, but have no good fast bowler who is consistent and the only spinner of note is Suleman Benn who has not been that much successful. They can be considered the underdogs who can on their day play like any good team, but their chances of reaching the end stages are remote.
Squad: Darren Sammy (Captain), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh (WK), Andre Rusell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Adrian Barath.