This edition of the ICC World Cup will see few minnows fighting their battles, who have the potential to turn things around and to spring a surprise. We analyse a few of them in brief: their strengths, weaknesses, past record and their squad.
Ireland or the Giant slayers as we know them will be looking forward to spring a surprise for the third consecutive season of the World Cup. In their debut season, they kicked Pakistan out of the 2007 World cup, gave a pounding to the Bangladeshi team and displayed competitive cricket against the mighty South Africans. Four years later, in the 2011 World Cup, although they didn’t proceed beyond the first round but they chased down a target of 328 against England, leaving their mark in the history, thanks to flamboyance of Kevin O’Brien.
Irish team with their dedication and temperament has proved time and again that with their mettle they can take down any team on their day. Retirement of Boyd Rankin and Johnston has left a void in their bowling attack and Murtagh’s injury is a major blow to their hopes but batting looks good with experienced Ed Joyce and Porterfield in the squad. One thing is sure that the team will be giving everyone a run for their money.
Squad: William Porterfield (Capt), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andrew McBrine, John Mooney, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien (wkt), Paul Stirling, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young
Bangladesh team is no more a minnow, it’s a team full of talent but lacks application. The team earned the test status after the biggest upset of 1999 world cup, where they brought down the mighty Pakistanis led by Wasim Akram. But post that the team has struggled to rise. Cricket is followed passionately in the country and another high came when they knocked India out in 2007 World Cup, entering into the super six stage, but they failed to capitalize on that.
Bangladesh has a fierce batting order with the likes of Tamim Iqbal to hitters like Mahmudullah and Shabir Rahman. Spinners play a vital role in their one day cricket and form the core of Bangladeshi bowling. But will they deliver Down Under, is something that remains to be seen? Bangladesh just had an inspired run against Zimbabwe at home and everyone is hoping that the zeal spurs another upset in the tournament.
Squad: Masrafe Bin Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Mominul Hoque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Shabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Al Amin Hossain, Taijul Islam, Arafat Sunny.
Zimbabwe, the World Cup underdogs made their first mark in 1983 when they defeated the Australians. The 90’s team was too strong with the likes of Alex Campbell, Andy flower and Johnson under their belt and a decent enough pace attack. The team pulled of a stunner in the 1992 edition when they defeated England. The team also had a superb run in 1999 and 2003 editions but since then Zimbabwe has long lost its sheen and is now a mere punching bag for the better sides.
The team revolves around Brendan Taylor who is a class player and can beat the blues on his day. Elton Chigumbhra, Maskadza and Sean Williams form the core of the team. If batting clicks the team can post competitive scores but it is the bowling which is weak and erratic. The Zimbabwe side might not have a larger role to play in the tournament but they will look to spring a surprise.
Squad: Elton Chigumbura (c), Sikandar Butt, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Solomon Mire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tinashe Panyangara, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams
Afghanistan team, currently 12 in ODI rankings, will be playing their first World Cup and have a tough task ahead of them with the likes of Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England in their Group. The team has played the game for a decade now and with the hard earned ODI Status on their back, the team will look to leave a mark on others.
Nabi led side has already proved what they are capable of after defeating Bangladesh in the Asia cup Last year. Afghanistan has a decent batting line up but it is their bowling which gives them jitters. Afghanis have nothing to lose and they will look to play their best game. Big teams need to be wary of this challenge otherwise a possible upset with this minnow is never out of question.
Squad: Mohammad Nabi (capt), Afsar Zazai (wk), Aftab Alam, Asghar Stanikzai, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Javed Ahmadi, Mirwais Ashraf, Najibullah Zadran, Nasir Jamal, Nawroz Mangal, Samiullah Shenwari, Shapoor Zadran, Usman Ghani, Hashmatullah Shaidi, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Shafiqullah, Sharafuddin Ashraf.
UAE will be making a comeback to the flagship event nearly after two decades; it’s last and only appearance in the World Cup was in 1996, where they ended with a victory against Netherland. The X Factor for the side is that very little is known about them and most teams won’t know what their strategy would be. This element of surprise might just work for them after all cricket is an unpredictable game and any possibility can’t be ruled out.
Squad: Mohammad Tauqir (capt.), Fahad Alhashmi, Amjad Ali, Shaiman Anwar, Nasir Aziz, Andri Berenger, Krishna Chandran, Manjula Guruge, Saqlain Haider (wk), Amjad Javed, Khurram Khan, Rohan Mustafa, Mohammad Naveed, Swapnil Patil (wk), Kamran Shazad
Edited by Shivang Aggarwal