2015 Cricket World Cup: Team-by-team guide to the tournament

The tournament gets under way on Saturday

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The Independent Online

The Cricket World Cup is nearly here - but which team will come out on top, who might cause an upset and who are the players to watch? Find out with our team-by-team guide.



Tournament best: N/A First tournament

Despite appearing in the past three ICC World T20’s this will be Afghanistan’s first appearance in the 50 over format. They come into the tournament after a mixed Dubai triangular series, winning two and losing two. With a squad blended of both experience and youth, Afghanistan will be hoping to cause an upset or two.

Star Player: Dawlet Zadran

Afghanistan’s highest wicket taker in 2014 and finished with 10 wickets at an average of 26.10 last time they were in New Zealand.

One to watch: Usman Ghani

The 18 year old batsmen has already impressed scoring a 100 against Zimbabwe making him one of only two centuries for Afghanistan.



Tournament best: Winners 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007

Coming into the tournament on the back of a tri-series victory and playing in home conditions, Australia are undoubtedly the team to beat. Having regained their arrogance of old and with players such as Smith in the form of his life, Australia will be hoping to end an eight year wait for the trophy.

Star Player: Steve Smith

Recently was awarded the prestigious Allan Border medal, Test player and ODI player of year cant be a bad start. Also had the summer named after him, ‘the summer of smith’.

One to watch: Mitchell Johnson

Having been rested for much of the tri-series Johnson is ready to be unleashed onto the world cup, taking 3-27 in his return in the final against England.

Steve Smith



Tournament best: 2007 Super Eight

2014 was not Bangladesh’s best year as they failed to beat any of the top opposition. Despite having scoring 326 against Pakistan, restricting Sri Lanka to 67-8 and bowling out India for 105 they still found away lose. However, the team has a backbone of ODI specialists and is more than capable on beating the top teams on their day.   

Star Player: Shakib Al Hasan

Bangladesh’s most skilled cricketer who would have had time to adjust to the conditions having been playing in Australia’s Big Bash competition.

One to Watch: Tamin Iqbal

A fluid opener who looks to score runs quickly. Has shown he has the potential to score runs with hundreds against England and Sri Lanka.



Tournament best: Finalists in 1979, 1987, 1992.

With Morgan as the new captain and a younger squad than previous World Cups England can go into the World Cup with some optimism. They look a far more dynamic team than normal and with players such as Ian Bell finding some form they could just be the dark horses of the completion.

Star Player: James Anderson

England’s leading ODI wicket taker with 264 and whose ability to swing a cricket ball is unparalleled with anyone else.

One to watch: Jos Buttler

A powerful wicket keeper batsmen whose maiden one day hundred off 61 balls against Sri Lanka was the fastest for an Englishmen. 

Morgan in action




Tournament best: Semi finalists 1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007, 2011.

Semi-finalists in the past two tournaments, New Zealand will be hoping to go the full distance this year. A successful ODI series victory against Sri Lanka and recent win, plus being moved up to sixth on the ODI ranking system means that the black cats will be high on confidence.

Star Player: Brendan McCullum

A brutal hitter of a cricket ball, McCullum has the power to destroy most bowling attacks.

One to watch: Trent Boult

A quick left arm seam bowler who will be able to utilise the pace and seam movement offered in the pitches in New Zealand and Australia.



Tournament best: Group stage 1999, 2007

Scotland have a highly experienced back room with former New Zealand Test cricketer Grant Bradburn and ex England all rounder Paul Collingwood. Qualified for the tournament by finishing top of their super six table which they eventually won by beating UAE in the final.

Star Player: Kyle Coetzer

The captain of the side, regularly been playing in the county championship since 2004 and is an experienced head. Also boasts an average of just under 40.

One to watch: Majid Haq

Exactly 50 ODI under his belt and he is Scotland’s leading wicket taker in ODI with 57. 



Tournament best: Winners 1996

Despite losing the recent series to New Zealand a side containing Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Malinga will always pose a threat. They are a side which are capable of scoring runs and if Malinga is fit in time then they arguably have the best death bowler in world cricket.

Star Player: Kumar Sangakkara

The 37 year old veteran just seems to have a knack of accumulating runs and scored 113* in his most recent match against New Zealand.

One to Watch: Lasith Malinga

Without him in the side Sri Lanka has looked the weaker team for it. His fantastic bowling at the death can alone win matches.

Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga




Tournament Best: Winners 1983, 2011.

India enter the tournament after a disappointing tour of Australia in which they failed to win a single match. Batting wise, they certainly have the talent with Virat Kholi and Rohit Sharmas’ incredible world record 264 against Sri Lanka. However in the bowling department they lack a threatening pace attack which could be their undoing.

Star Player: Virat Kholi

Despite failing to reach double figures in his past 4 matches, with 21 ODI hundreds to his name he is a man for the big occasions.

One to Watch: Rohit Sharma

His recent 264 highlighted his potential and was a feat that according to Brian Lara will not be passed. He will be appearing in his first World Cup.



Tournament best: Super Eights 2011

In the past two World Cups they have beaten Pakistan (2007) and England (2011) and so have the potential to surprise a few at this tournament. Since the New Year they have won two out of their three matches and their quest to become a Test playing nation will be severely boosted by a good World Cup campaign.

Star Player: Kevin O’Brien

His hundred against England in the last World still remains the fastest hundred (50 balls), and his ability to play under pressure will be an asset for Ireland.

One to watch: George Dockrell

Emerged on the scene at the 2011 World cup as an eighteen year old left arm orthodox bowler but has now established himself as an integral member of the side, collecting 51 ODI wickets.

Kevin O'Brien at the 2011 World Cup



Tournament best: Winners 1992

With just three wins in their last 12 games their World Cup preparation has not been ideal.  The loss of Saeed Ajmal to the ICC strict bowling actions will be damaging as he was their star bowler. However, Pakistan are a side with flair and who perform best when they are up against the wall.

Star Player: Shahid Afridi

‘Boom boom Afridi’, his return against New Zealand with a hard hitting 67 off 36 balls show he still has it. Bowls some useful leg-spin as well.

One to watch: Sohail Khan

The right arm seamer is seen as a surprise pick. he has impressed the selectors for being the highest wicket-taker in the Quaid-e-Azam Gold league in Pakistan.



Tournament best:  semi-finalists  1992, 1999, 2007

South Africa’s recent series victory over the West Indies highlighted that they had the elements for a successful World Cup campaign. Hundreds from Rossouw, and Miller will do them a world of good, and one cannot forget De Villiers breath-taking 149 off 44 balls. With the ball they have the best modern day quick bowler in Dale Steyn.

Star Player: AB DeVilliers

Epitomises the modern day batsmen, can score 360 and on his knees. Has the ability to take the game away from the bowling side.

One to watch: Rilee Rossouw

Has emerged as a talent scoring two centuries in the recent ODI series versus the West Indies.

AB DeVilliers



Tournament best: First round 1996

Spent some weeks in Australia and New Zealand as part of the ICC’s High Performance Programme where they were acclimatised to the conditions. On that tour they beat both Zimbabwe and Ireland and if they get their campaign off to a winning start they could gain some momentum. 

Star Player: Khurram Khan

Khan had a fantastic 2014 scoring 334 runs in six ODI at an average of 83 with a highest score of 132. He will be hoping to continue this form for the World Cup.

One to watch: Saqlain Haider

An agile wicket-keeper who earnt much praise from Australians when he replaced the injured Haddin in an unofficial match against Pakistan A.



Tournament best: Winners 1975, 1979

Any team with Chris Gayle in it has the potential to cause real damage, although the West Indies do not have star bowler Sunil Nurine (who has left to work on his action) and key player Pollard and Bravo who were left out. Under the young captain of Holder it remains to be seen just how well this team can do.

Star Player: Chris Gayle

The big hitting opening batsmen will need to find some form if the West Indies are to have a good tournament.

One to watch: Jason Holder

Appearing in his first World Cup as captain the pressure will be on him. he has shown that he can be steady bowler, but the question remains if he can do it on the big stage.

Chris Gayle



Tournament best: Super sixes 1999, 2003

Zimbabwe have been largely unconvincing of late failing to beat Bangladesh in a series which they lost 5-0. With the UAE and Ireland in their group, Zimbabwe can remain hopeful of beating those two and upsetting one of the better sides to qualify.

Star Player: Brendan Taylor

28-year-old batsmen with almost 5,000 runs could breath some life into this Zimbabwe team.

One to watch: Prosper Utseya

Forced to change his bowling action so that he can only bowl medium pacers and not his preferred spinners. However has a vast of experience that should not be underestimated.