In the era of 1970’s the cricketing world was dominated by the West Indies because of their strong pace bowling and strong batting line-up and from 1999 onwards till 2007 the Aussies dominated the cricket world having the number 1 rank for a long time.
In the recent months, a great change is exhibited by the Asian teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh as they are giving a tough fight to the other top teams in the shorter version of the game in particular. Afghanistan has qualified for the World Cup 2015 for the first time to compete with world’s best.
In 2014, the Indian team performance in ODIs has been good. The main reason of success has been the young players performing at the international level. Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina are doing so well that the experienced players Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh were dropped recently and the likes of Rahul Dravid, Laxman and Sourav Ganguly are not being missed in the ODI circuit.
Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar has also announced his retirement after Mumbai’s Test from 14 November 2013, his 200th game, and I am sure will not make much difference to the team’s performance though his support to the youngsters will not be there as in the previous World Cup triumph in 2011.
Dhoni, the cool captain, has the capacity to lead from front and perform under pressure to chase huge scores in ODI’s to steal victories even from the jaws of defeat.
After losing the test series against England, the Indian team bounced back brilliantly to win the One day International series 3-1. They also beat West Indies and Sri Lanka in home series in this year.
The Indian team under Dhoni has to improve the performance overseas after the debacle in England and Australia. The Indian team has won 3 major ICC trophies in recent history – The T-20 World Cup, World Cup 2011 and Champions trophy 2013. Many young players have shown promise like Akshar Patel who has been impressive with bat and bowl.
The Pakistan team has lot of match winners but the main problem of this team is that they are not to chase scores in ODI despite the talent. In 1992, the team won the World Cup and then in 2009 they won the T-20 World Cup.
In this year, the Pakistan team has not been at its best, losing an ODI series against Australia and New Zealand. Top six batsmen though settled are leaving the scoring to tail-enders when the team is chasing the scores, that they are not able to tackle the pressure.
The team comprises of some match winners like Shahid Afridi, Misbah, Umar Akmal and Hafeez. The bowling looks good which can trouble any team on their day but they have to improve the batting and learn to tackle pressure. The Pakistan team has to improve their mental attitude. Without their main spinner Ajmal they look a little weak on the bowling front.
Bangladesh side has been a disappointment in ODIs especially in 2014. They only beat Zimbabwe in One Day International series in 2014. If the teams take them lightly they can sting and surprise. The main achievement of the team was in the Asia cup 2012 when they defeated India and Sri Lankans and almost defeated the Pakistans in final.
The team comprises of Tamim Iqbal, Anmual Haque, Nasir Hussain, Mominal Haque and spinners like Sohag Gazi who has recently scored a century and taking a hat-trick in a test match and also Rubel Hussian taking a hat-trick in ODI.
Sri Lanka cricket needs to nurture the youngsters before the top players like TM Dilshan who has retired from Test Cricket. Sangakkara and bowlers like Malinga who can single-handedly win the match. The team has won the World Cup in 1996 and reaching the final of 2003 World Cup, 2007 World Cup, 2011 World Cup and 2012 T-20 World Cup because of the talent pool.
I think India can defend their title only if their bowling improves and can improve their death bowling. Apart from India, Sri Lanka is the other side who can win the World Cup 2015. The main challenge for Asian teams is to adjust to the conditions of pace and bounce of the pitches.