Tomorrow the World Cup kicks off, and I have looked at all of the teams. Now, with one day to go until the World Cup I close out my preview with my final predictions as to who will win the World Cup.
Group A combines Australia, Sri Lanka, England, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Scotland. The Australians and New Zealanders will be expected to do very well at their home tournaments, and while that could prove too much both sides have performed well recently and you would expect them to progress. Sri Lanka and England are both strong, but have both struggled in matches against New Zealand and Australia respectively. Bangladesh should be able to beat Afghanistan and the Scottish but will struggle against the other countries. Expect a close contest between Afghanistan and Scotland, as it is very likely that both teams will be pushing for their first tournament win.
Prediction: 1. Australia, 2. New Zealand, 3. Sri Lanka, 4. England, 5. Bangladesh, 6. Afghanistan, 7. Scotland.
Group B brings together India, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and the UAE. The Indians have struggled for form in their recent tri-series, and this is a worry heading into such an important tournament. By contrast the South Africans have had no such qualms, comfortably beating the West Indians at home in their most recent series. The West Indies are still feeling the impact of the player boycott during the tour of India, with senior players not being picked and the side in general disarray. Pakistan may well struggle on the Australian wickets, but they are not to be underestimated. The Zimbabweans and the Irish will see the recent struggles of the West Indians as an opportunity to possibly sneak into the quarter-finals, and that will lead to a competitive and evenly-matched battle between the sides. The UAE will be keen to impress but will struggle at the highest level.
Prediction: 1. South Africa, 2. India, 3. Pakistan, 4. West Indies, 5. Ireland, 6. Zimbabwe, 7. UAE.
This leaves the quarter final match-ups of: Australia vs West Indies, New Zealand vs Pakistan, India vs Sri Lanka, South Africa vs England. The Australians should comfortably dispose of the West Indies, and while New Zealand and Pakistan were evenly matched in their series in the UAE the New Zealanders should have the edge at home. India and Sri Lanka are evenly matched, but Sri Lanka should win on batting depth. South Africa should just have too much class for the English. With those results Australia would play Sri Lanka in the semi-final. The Australians are probably the better team at home, and Sri Lanka would struggle. The other semi-final would pit South Africa against New Zealand. South Africa probably have too much experience and class for New Zealand, and that leaves a final match-up of Australia and South Africa. On paper the two sides are very evenly matched, and are probably the best two sides in the world. In the end the Australians depth with the bat should win out, and so I predict that the Australians will take out the World Cup on home soil.
2nd: South Africa.
Semi-Finals: New Zealand, Sri Lanka.
Quarter-Finals: England, India, Pakistan, West Indies.
Group Stage: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ireland, Scotland, UAE, Zimbabwe.
Most Runs: AB de Villiers (South Africa).
Most Wickets: Mitchell Starc (Australia).
Thank you for reading my eight-part World Cup preview, and be on the look out for more posts during the World Cup.