World Cup 2011 Team Analysis

9. New Zealand: With one or two exceptions like Martin Crowe, Richard Hadlee and Chris Cairns, The Men in Black have always displayed as much flair as Deve Gowda after a heavy meal. Their very “Rani Mukherjee without makeup”-ness however has been their greatest strength, especially in a tournament like the World Cup, since like nuts and bolts in a machine, they could be replaced without any change in team performance. This is why they have always performed above their weight class in the World Cup.

This time though I am doubtful. First of all, the tournament is in the subcontinent where the Kiwis traditionally have a tough time. Second, their side no longer has the strength of old where they always had a long-line up of multi-utility cricketers who could bowl wicket-to-wicket, hit a quick twenty or thirty and field like the Devil. McCullum, like the Lady of Shalott, seems to have the “curse is upon me” expression that all KKR-players carry on their faces, Taylor and Vettori do not have the stature to carry the team on their shoulders to the end, and my favorite New Zealand player,  Jesse Ryder, looks like Kallu Mama who was wandered away from a Ram Gopal Verma film-set with one too many in his stomach, is unlikely to make it through the tournament without falling in the gutter. They may cause one or two upsets but do not have gas in their tank to go the whole way.

8. Bangladesh:  Tamim Iqbal is an asset. So is the fact that they are playing on home grounds. But Bangladesh’s secret weapon are their supporters. As an example, here is a motivational fan rap video which I am pretty sure will really push the team to the limit. Titled “You Kuttas and Kuttis” (You dogs and bitches), its lyrics of proud nationalism that go “Ami daal bhaat khai niggah, I am so fresh niggah, I am from Bangladesh” [I have rice soaked with pulses and I am from Bangladesh] and which ends with lines (Panter bhetor ektoo hagoo jhorse) I dare not translate here, is simply put the best inspirational song I have heard for some time. This is one team which will be carried on pure passion. After all, how can God (who loves ilish macch I am told) not smile on fans who create “Bijoy threads” (victory threads) a week before the match begins congratulating the team on their “advanced” victory (which 99% of the time does not happen).

Even this time, the Bangladeshi message boards are full of warnings to India asking them to remind themselves of World Cup 2007 first game and how this time Bangladesh team will humiliate them even worse, in retaliation for not picking Tamim Iqbal in IPL. Some may say that absence of Mashrafe Mortaza (whom the Bangladeshi fans, who love to give their cricketers American nicknames call “Mash”, perhaps in honor of the breakfast of Bangladeshi champions, Mash Potatoes [Aloo Siddho]) and the perennial out-of-form-ness of Ashraful (whose nickname of Ash must rankle Aishwariya even more than married to Abhishek) severely compromise their chances but honestly who cares—-all that matters is whether East Coast rappers (from Sylhet) beat the West Coast ones (from Dhaka) [example insult song: Oh sala ekta bhooter baccha] (The saala is the son of a ghost) and whether India gets humiliated.

7. West Indies: This is the team of mercenaries, have-money-shall-bat traveling salesmen players who can just as well as play for you if suitably paid. The difference between them and Pakistan is that they will wear your jersey and play for you whereas Pakistanis will play for you while wearing their own colors. Be what it may, a batting line-up of Gayle, Sarwan, Chandrapaul, the two Bravos and Kieron Pollard, especially on the flat tracks of the subcontinent, sounds scary enough. Where West Indies is let down is in their bowling which is possibly one of the weakest they have ever fielded with the only point of interest being whether Gayle and  Benn, who share a worse captain-player relationship than Dhoni and Sreesanth, will come to blows on the playing field. Maybe they cannot win the World Cup with a KKR-quality bowling attack , but they will definitely cause teams grief with that power-packed batting order. And oh. We made Gayle angry, kicking him where it hurts the most. On his wallet. As an Indian fan, I shudder.

6. Pakistan: Rarely has a sports team so accurately reflected the nation it represents—leaderless, volatile, angry, anarchical and totally devoid of scruples.  If only to crystallize the essence of Pakistan, at the time of writing, their team has no captain, a rather bizarre state of affairs, almost as if someone in the selection process got paid the same sum of money by “both” sides. So who should be their captain? The ball-biting, pitch-scuffing, “I am sixteen going on sixteen” madman?The only physics-graduate-in-Pakistan-not-making-nuclear bomb, self-detonating under-performer? For the sake of Pakistan, I hope it will be Shahid Afridi. Why? Because he is exactly the kind of leader Pakistan needs, as deeply flawed as his team, but with that radical ruthlessness that makes Pakistani cricket so exciting.

There is however little sense of excitement as one looks at the squad. Umar Akmal needs to be paid money to play well. Shoaib Akthar, fighting the demons within and also the vegetation that grows where the sun doth not shine, is too old to carry the lightweight attack on his steroid-pumped shoulder. Mohammed Yusuf should have been in the team, considering the paucity of batting resources but then again, he might be playing under a different name or religion.

One thing though that one can say about Pakistan, that you cannot about I guess anyone else. Come the hour, they usually have the man. Unless of course the man has already dollar bills stuffed inside his federally administered tribal areas. If Pakistan can get into the knock-out stage, then you can definitely put your money on them. Mmm. Perhaps not the best choice of words. But you get the message.

5. Australia: Any time you have Vishkanya Greg Chappell associated with the team, even though technically it be the number one team in the world, you have pretty much kissed your chances goodbye. The Australian team looks much like the Indian team of 2007, carrying two major players who seem to have passed their sell-by date. Experience is all right but the recent performances of Ponting and Clarke do not justify their place in the team. We have heard a lot about Australia’s lack of sentimentalism in selection matters but one wonders why Shaun Marsh (who has an excellent knowledge of local conditions) and David Warner (who despite a pathetic ODI average of 15 is the kind of bullying batsman who flourishs on Indian flat decks) are not in the team. With Michael Hussey most possibly out due to injury, there is a shocking paucity of genuine class in the Australian ranks. Only exceptions are  Shane Watson and Brett Lee, with a huge question mark over the latter’s ability to last out a tournament at top speed. Yes Watson is peerless and loves playing in India but a team cannot be borne by one or two men alone in a tournament like the World Cup. The only reason for optimism is that they are Australia, a country which more than anyone else really hates to lose.

4. India: As an Indian fan, I want India to win. But being a die-hard devotee, I am highly skeptical about this team’s chances. First of all I believe history is against them. India can go the distance when there is no expectation on them and players can perform without the burden of expectations (1983 World Cup, 2007 T20 Cup). More importantly, the team does not seem to have it. Cricketing wise. Make no mistake. This is a great batting line-up. If the World Cup was being played in 2009.

In 2011, Sachin, Gambhir and Sehwag are coming off injuries and we have no idea as to 1) how fit they actually are and 2) what injury has done to their form. Based on their current performances, Beer-Belly Yuvraj and Baraah Inch Dhoni are two big holes in the middle order, nowhere near to what they were in 2009. Kohli, the greatest man who has had that last name after Armaan Kohli from “Jaani Dushman”, is the man in form and I would hope would replace Raina in the starting line-up (stranger things have happened before in Indian cricket) but his lack of explosive power (like Raina at his best) puts the entire pressure of giving a finish to Yusuf Pathan and to an extent even on Harbhajan Singh. In the final analysis, India’s prospects depend almost solely on whether Yuvraj and Dhoni, or at least one of them, can justify their presence in the team. Else they are going home……mm staying home.

Not a bad thing if you think about it. At least they will be match-fit to party during the IPL. Which ultimately is all that matters. At least to them.

3. England:  Every World Cup time, especially if it is held in the subcontinent, we hear a lot of whining from the British press——- “We would rather be playing the Ashes” and “The World Cup is over-long and boring and who cares”. The very fact that the British press and players have been by and large silent shows that after decades, they seriously fancy their chances. And why not? These guys have an embarrassment of batting riches with Bell, Trott, Strauss, Morgan in form and KP being well KP.  Unlike other English teams in the past, they have good spinning options with Yardy and Swann, and a clutch of useful multipurpose players like Wright, Bresnan, Broad and of course Collingwood. What works against them is their poor record in India (yes they did make the finals in 1987) and the fact that if they are put on the field in daytime on a belter of a pitch,  Broad and Anderson might be put to the sword. They would be praying for bowling under lights when England would be at their most dangerous. In all, compact and balanced. Should have a decent chance unless they adjust poorly to the conditions, lose a few at the front and get into their whining “the colonies suck” Burra-Sahib mode.

2. Sri Lanka: These people are masters in their own den, play well under pressure, have one of the most attacking one-day bowlers in World Cup today (Lasith Malinga), an all-time great (Murali) and a batting line-up centered around three of the world’s most reliable shorter form players—Sangakkara, Jayawardhene and Dilshan, the first two also being one of the best minds in the game. Unlike India which has just played a ODI series that will be of no help to them for the World Cup, Sri Lanka have a series right before the Cup against West Indies on home-grounds, an ideal warm-up before the main event. Balance, a lack of glory-hounds, solid cricketing acumen and an innate mastery of the local conditions—Sri Lanka is looking darn good.

1. South Africa: The South Africans are always strong. But rarely as strong as they will be this time. Hasheem Amla is in the form of a lifetime and given his strengths, will enjoy the conditions in India. Kallis, arguably the world’s most valuable ODI player, might be returning from an injury but this is one man who almost never seems to lose form. Add to this De Villiers, Graeme Smith and Duminy, all of whom have experience of sub-continental conditions, and this is one helluva attack battery. The sheer speed and sustained hostility of Steyn is a threat, even in India, and especially under lights when the ball jags about. He has suffered in the recent past for support but with Morne Morkel finally fulfilling his promise and Tsotsobe providing a good third option, South Africa is the team to beat at this year’s World Cup. Yes, we all know that they have this problem against one-off stand-out individual performances and would be at their weakest against unpredictable opposition like Pakistan and West Indies. But if they can get past these hurdles, it will be very very difficult to stop the Proteas.

43 thoughts on “World Cup 2011 Team Analysis

  1. Very Well written …!

  2. Great Analysis

    Going to be a cracker of a world cup – First time there is no clear cut favorite.

  3. Actually Its Brilliantly hilarious :)”The bangla rap “..what an inspirational song 😛

  4. Excellent. Would hv pushed England to 4 & India 3. But what is this ‘Baraah Inch’ Dhoni?

  5. Any analysis would really matter if there is a contest among the good teams to rise to the top. Not in this World Cup. The way the groups are structured, all top teams will make it to the quarters (maybe BD can sneak through in place of WI). After that it is just three knock out matches – like the ICC Champions Trophy. And anyone can win those on a good day. This is going to be a pure lottery.

  6. Kris Sreekanth's Hair January 28, 2011 — 3:10 am

    South Africa is the team to beat.Really?If you consider Tsotsobe to be a bowler in Sub c conditions Lee,Tait,Bollinger,Mitch are the worlds best bowling line up ever. Poor analysis,you seem to be going to much on recent form.Sachin,Sehwag,Gautam,Kholi followed by a Yuvi,Dhoni,manbeast Alas! are you blinded this is better than 09 hell this is the best line up IND has ever had in ODI’s.
    And the bowl doing much under lights really?Maybe in Durban,Dear Greatpom the world cup is in the Sub-continent,where the ball does nothing Lights (Natural/Artificial).
    Poorly written occasional blip in form or you are just Bonged!

  7. “The difference between them and Pakistan is that they will wear your jersey and play for you whereas Pakistanis will play for you while wearing their own colors.” Incredible.

  8. The ball does nothing under lights. Ahem. Let’s see. Where should I start? Eden Gardens 1996. Mohali…actually in most pitches the world does something under lights. And oh by the way, Shaun Tait is injured and unlikely to play.

  9. hey GB..any reactions on india-england being taken away from Eden ?? let’s have a nice rant on that !!

  10. i think south africa at the top of that list is slightly skewed. south africa has always been the team to beat, make no mistakes about that, but in the subcontinent, their performance hasn’t been as good as elsewhere.
    Its very difficult for them to get past sri lanka, even india, in the subcontinent.
    and of course, they are chokers. time and again, this has been proved true.
    but signs are good. they have a fantastic team in terrific form which is raring to go. and they’ve never won a cup. this might be their year.

  11. Dude..tsotsobe might have done well in SA..but In sub continent, he will suffer. He will not get the bounce he got in SA. Same will happen to the rest of SA pacers.
    And India is not as bad as you have made it look like. Sending back SRT, GG and Viru was more of precautionery measure…SRT and GG were in good form in test. Do not forget, they are playing in home conditions where even half fit of them will be better than the most. Yes, problem lies in uv’s and Dhoni’s form but Dhoni will surely do better in India.
    As far as England is concerned, I am not sure if swann is fit. Their pacers might not be as effective as they have been in Australia.
    Biggest threat if SL – king of conditions in sub continent, excellent batting line up for dead pitches backed up by guile of Murali and unplayable death bowler – malinga.

  12. The dig on Ponting is simply because we perceive him to be “rude”. Anybody who has watched cricket for the last 10 years would know Ponting is a dangerous batsman and captain, who can inspire with (a) batting (b) leadership (c) sledging. As a captain, he is still better that Dhoni, and as a batsman, he is due for a large score.

    As for Aussies are concerned, we discount them at our own peril. The Cricket world cup does not depend on flashes of brilliance (except 1992), it depends on solid, consistent performances. And among the teams, only Australia can produce that kind of consistency. India could have, but then Yusuf, Raina and Yuvraj are all one-track ponies. And Sachin is the only man who we can assuredly say will deliver.

    South Africa? I predict a quarter final loss for them

  13. @Kaushik, this World Cup DOES depend on flashes of brilliance. Every good team will make it to the quarters even if they just beat the minnows in their respective groups. Beyond that, each match is a knock out. One Gayle or McCullum or Afridi blitzkrieg and any of the top teams can find themselves out.

  14. I dont know why people think Yuvraj is irreplacable…He has class but he is like that gas station [although full] but with defunct hose.

  15. @GB, these days, there is a lot more uncertainty over night matches in the subcontinent due to the dew factor. Conditions could favour swing but bowlers find it difficult to grip the ball (as early as the 10-15th over). The ball starts coming onto the bat much better off the pitch as well. So, batsmen can play cautiously upfront and wait for things to get easier. Most captains have been opting to chase under lights in recent times.

  16. With the home advantage, I would definitely bump Sri Lanka & India higher up
    My favorites for the cup:
    1. Sri Lanka
    2. India
    3. South Africa
    4. England
    5. Pakistan
    6. Australia
    7. West Indies
    8. Bangladesh
    9. New Zealand

    But then again, given the format of the tournament, it all boils down to just the last 3 matches. With no real dominant team in world cricket today, this could be anyone’s cup

  17. I tend to disagree wit u GB. I believe that India is a clear fav alongwith Lanka. South Africa and England are the dark horses. As for the Aussies, I dnt see them getting past quarters.

    Anyways, if we look at the groups closely and assume that teams will finish 1-4 in this fashion : Grp A – SL/Aus , Aus/SL , Pak , NZ ; Grp B- Ind/SA , SA/Ind , Eng , WI/ B’Desh .. theres a real chance that we may have Indo-Pak in quarters (A3 vs B2) .. That wud b damn exciting…….

    My favs to win the cup – India ; followed by SL n SA.

  18. @GB: Apart from 2003 and those WI years no team wins world cup as favorites and SA favorites in India, you must be joking man. The 2nd One-dayer result still tells SA is still the same

  19. Well I tend to agree with most of what is written in comments…I too like others would disagree with you hoping that India would be winners but really it cud be anyone’s cup…GG,VS and SS were rested for precautionary measures just before the world cup and so that if they fail in SA, people dont start shouting for their heads(which would be totally wrong as SA is not the subcontinent)…Indians have done well in the subcontinent in recent past(last year they won series against SA, Aus(rain-marred),NZ and even SL. So if one Yusuf Pathan can do what he did in SA, then imagine what would happen if 2 more players add to him…India would be clear favorites along with SL…Also I am an Indian supporter

  20. Not a single post about netaji or Vivekananda. Call yourself great’bong’.

  21. during last 3 years, team batting second has won 8 out of 11 matches in India under lights.Score is 4 out of 8 in Lanka, 4 out of 5 in Bangladesh. That makes it 16 wins out of 24 matches i.e. 66%.. May be ball was doing too much under the lights to benefit the bowling side under the lights.

  22. loved the “Deve Gowda after a heavy meal” bit…excellent analysis of the 2011 World Cup as well…however, very hard to imagine how this qualifies as the “Random Thoughts of a Demented mind”…

  23. The workers at Eden Gardens slowed work.. They’re saying “No dada no KKR”. Eden Gardens shall be ready after IPL.

    on a serious note :-
    I agree with you on India. Depends on the middle order firing. Pathan & Bhajji cannot be expected to rescue them more than once / twice.

    Australia looks good with Shane Watson firing.. but Chappel can be expected to step in and mess things up with

    I disagree with South Africa as favourites. See the last Ind/SA series.. They gifted 2 wins to India. And had Pathan batted a couple of overs more in the 5th game, SA would have lost the series too. Expect them to be one of the best teams, but will trip up at a crucial knockout stage (’96 WC).

  24. I am more hopeful and positive about India. Also have a feeling that Raina will do better than Yuvi in the subcontinental conditions.

    The thing that makes me hopeful about India, is that, they have a winner at hand even if any THREE amongst- Sehwag, Gambhir, Sachin, Raina/Yuvi, Kohli, Dhoni fire in any game, and the rest give average contribution.

    The chances of that happening in the subcontinental conditions are really high.

  25. I doubt how SA bowling will fare in India, especially since both Morkel and Tsotsobe rely on bounce and there isn’t going to be much on offer in the sub-continent pitches…..and Steyn is yet to prove his mettle in ODIs. SA also doesn’t have a reliable spin attack….of course we still don’t know how good Tahir will be. But they have the batsmen to take them deep into the tournament. And then they have the habit of loosing a knockout match just at the right time

    About England I do have high hopes, and I am waiting to watch how Swann performs in the spinning tracks of the subcontinent against the best players of spin.

    I am a supporter of India, but I agree completely with the points you raised about the current Indian team. Though I think Suresh Raina should play well in the subcontinent conditions. But Virat Kohli still needs to be in the playing eleven. I won’t mind if Harbhajan singh has to make way for him. In any the case the Indian bowling attack will concede on an average 280 runs per match with or without harbhajan singh. And in Sehwag we have a better off-spinner.

    But I would put my money on Sri Lanka, unless they implode. Sangakkara, Dilshan, Jayawardene, Mathews, Perera as batsmen and Murali, Malinga as bowlers. Unless teams like West Indies and Pakistan can pull off some of the great upsets, ideally SL, SA, Eng and India should make the semi finals

    And oh what I wouldn’t give to watch Australia mauled by every team.

  26. I think my top 3 contenders are: 1. Sri Lanka, 2. Australia and 3. England with South Africa being #4. But great analysis… mine is just a gut feel.
    I would love to see India being a favorite but am a bit less optimistic based on injuries, age/fitness/commitment of the key players and more than anything else, the oft too non-chalant vibes that I find in MS’s post match press conferences (after defeats) which perhaps sound cool but do not generate confidence in a fan in terms of understanding the future plan/strategy.

  27. Headline from Cricinfo “Kolkata loses India-England fixture”

    How come you are not blaming Chappell-Dravid nexus?

  28. No analysis, just wanted to share an observation.

    Had been to Bangladesh sometime back. A large number of the local people actually seem to believe that Bangladesh have a realistic chance of winning the cup. One of them went to the extent of justifying it by saying that since they are the hosts, they are also the odds on favorites, not just against India but for the tournament itself.

    God help us …..

  29. Been watching Urdu/Pakjabi news videos from Pakistan on Youtube all week, and the things are so bad there it makes Dantewada look like Picadilly Circus; so it’s a pleasure to listen to Dhaka convent school types trying to fake, Sylheti and Chhatgoin (which are really unintellgible as I found on the Q in NYC when I stumbled upon two Bangladeshis from Chhottogram practicing mainstream Bangla, and I found I knew a little more about it than them!!!

  30. Thanks Arnab. Was waiting for your analysis.

  31. not that g8 analysis but still nice post to read…after australia’s era of dominance this is the best world-cup we are going to see as there are 3-4 teams who have serious chance of winning world cup. want to see india win 🙂

  32. “The only physics-graduate-in-Pakistan-not-making-nuclear bomb”… classic Arnab.

  33. Great analysis in typical greatbong style! The Bangladesh analysis was the best! I have personally seen how all they care is the thought of beating India. As for India, don’t rule out the prowess of the Rainas and Yusufs on Indian pitches — they are the proverbial Aftab Shivdasanis abroad but King Khans at home.

  34. How can you rate australia below england…
    Whatever be the current form of Aussies,time and again they have proved
    that they are always a force to be reckoned with in any conditions in a multinational ICC tournament be it World Cup or Champions Trophy..
    Last 2 times they toured India for 7 match ODI series in 2007&2009,they gave India a royal pasting even when it was more like an Australia C or an Australia D team with most of their main players injured.

    So you can never count them out for a World Cup even more when its in the Subcontinent where their overall record is even better than all the Home teams..

  35. Poor Analysis…you seems to have forgotten the recent Aus Eng ODI Series..where Aus has beaten Eng Black and blue…As far as India is concerned…it is one of the best teams and we dont need all the players to fire…just 3 out of top 6 will win us most of the matches…Eng, SA will not do good in Subcontinent…

  36. Can’t stop my laughter at the description of the Pakistan team.. Absolutely brilliant.. and the analysis, I feel, is very accurate and well hidden behind the rib-ticking humour.. Great Job GreatBong

  37. haha.the writer of this article needs to be fair in its judgement not an extremist remarks as he has shown for pakistan and its cricket team.atleast indians should 1st prepare world cup grounds properly and on time before comenting on anybody else.hope pak vl beat india in india infront of packed indian crowd and then indians vl burn cards and throw rubbish in ground like always,bloody illetrate nation.

  38. umer hammad : “hope pak vl beat india in india … bloody illetrate nation”

    illetrate nation.



  39. @umer hammad
    “bloody illetrate nation” you wrote? Sure…whatever makes you feel better, son. For a Binori graduate, you appear to be your school’s spelling bee champ.
    Do you have time to watch cricket in between the daily suicide blasts? Good for you. Stay safe and lose the hate….Love is ALL.

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