|Who will win the ICC World Cup 2011?|
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 starts with the opening match at Bangladesh's Mirpur on February 19. The matches will be held through out March and the final will played at the historic Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on April 2.
Whether you are Test cricket fan or you find One Day Internationals (ODIs) boring after the advent of T20, the fact is that no one can escape the cricket fever for almost 1-1/2 months.
The World Cup is being hosted again in India. Initially it was supposed to be hosted jointly by India-Pakistan but terrorist attacks particularly the firing on Sri Lankan team forced the authorities to shift matches and give them to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The format includes two groups with seven teams each. Four teams will qualify from each group. These eight teams will play then four matches in the quarter finals. The four winners will then play in the semi final at Colombo and Mohali on March 29 and March 30. The final will be played on April 2.
Group A: Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya
Group B: England, India, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh and Netherland
India among favourites to win the cup!
Predictions as to which team will win the world cup can go horribly wrong. In the past, teams not given a chance, had a sudden dream run and went on to clinch the cup. India is among the favourites as led by the Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the team has a mixture of experience and youth that ranges from Sachin Tendulkar and Virendra Sehvag to Yusuf Pathan.
While Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh will provide strength to the batting line up, Pathan is expected to play the role of accelerator. Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan would lead the Indian bowling attack with Nehra and Munaf Patel as the other two medium-pace fast bowlers.
The bets are in favour of India followed by Sri Lanka, England, South Africa and then Pakistan. South Africa is surely a combination to watch far, given their recent record in ODIs. While Pakistan looks a bit shaky, it can't be written off.
S Africa, Sri Lanka led in ODIs in 2010: Hashim Amla, the player to watch for in World Cup
As far as performance of teams in ODIs in 2010 is concerned, South Africa led with 12 wins in 16 matches played during the course of year. Sri Lanka was second with 15 wins in 22 matches and a victory percent of 72. Australia won 16 out of 25 matches while England played 17 and won 12.
Of course, India hit 401 against South Africa in Gwalior in February '09.
Pakistan had a forgettable year with just 5 wins in 18 matches. West Indies didn't do well either in the bygone year.
Leading ODI players in 2010
In 2010, Hashim Alma overshadowed all other batsmen as he scored over 1,000 runs in just 15 matches with an average of over 75.
Virat Kohli was second with 995 runs in 25 matches followed by AB De Villiers, Thilakratne Dilshan et al. Among bowlers Bangladesh's Shakib al Hasan was the leading bowler in the world followed by Harris, Shafiul Islam, Stuart Broad and Bangladesh's A Razzaq. Ashish Nehra also figured in the list of top ten bowlers.
But India did well in Test cricket this year and their success rate was just after England. Australia, South Africa, West Indies and Pakistan followed in terms of victories. In T 20 format, 2010 witnessed England, Australia, South Arica and Kenyad doing much better than the rest of the teams.
Australia won thrice: India, Pakistan, SL have won once each and also ended up runners-up
Australia has been the most successful team in World Cups followed by West Indies. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also won the trophy but among important teams England and South Africa have not been able to life the cup.
Interestingly, all the three teams from sub-continent have ended up as runners-up also. India reached the final in 2003 also but lost to Australia. Pakistan again also made it to final in 1999 but were routed by Australia in the final. Sri Lanka again lost to Aussies in 2007.
World Cup Cricket winners: From 1975 to 2007
In 1975 and 1979, West Indies were winners. In 1983 India made an upset victory which was followed by Australia in 1987, Pakistan in 1992, Sri Lanka in 1996. Australia has won the ICC World Cup on last three occasions viz. 1999, 2003 and 2006-07.
So far Australia has played 69 matches in World Cups and won 51. Ricky Ponting is the most successful captain. He has led Kangaroos in 22 matches in World Cup and won all of them. Ponting also holds the record for best fielder with 39 catches in 25 world cup matches.
Tendulkar, best batsman in World Cup ever
As far as performance of individual players is concerned, Sachin Tendulkar has been the most successful batsman as he has scored 1,796 runs in five world cups, followed by Ricky Ponting 1537, Brian Lara 1225, Jayasuriya 1165, Adam Gilchrist 1085 and Javed Miandad 1083.
Gibbs, Stephen Fleming, Arvinda de Silva, Viv Richards, Saurav Ganguly and Mark Waugh have also scored over 1,000 runs in World Cup tournaments. In the last World cup, Mathew Hayden amassed 659 runs while before that Tendulkar had the maximum runs in a single world cup when he got 673 in just 11 matches.
Tendulkar will become the second player after Miandad to play in six world cups. Among bowlers, Glenn McGrath has been most successful and has taken 71 wickets followed by Wasim Akram (55), Muralitharan (53), Vaas (49), Srinath (44) and Donald (38).
With barely three weeks to go before the event starts, here was the schedule and a summary of the history of World Cups. The venue and schedule of matches are subject to last-minute change. As the world cup draws nearer, there will be more posts and celebrating the nostalgia & joy of cricket. Ciou!
*Names of venues: Read H'tota as Hambantota [in Sri Lanka], C'gong as Chittagong [in Bangladesh] and Motera is in Gujarat.