As 10 days remain to the biggest ODI cricket extravaganza in the world – ICC 2019 World Cup – we gear up for the event by analysing all 10 teams taking part. But this is not going to be your usual SWOT analysis. We are going to focus on what makes these teams capable of going all the way to winning the title.
Sure, some of the teams may not be likely to lift the World Cup trophy. But, by trying to figure out a hypothetical path to success for these teams, we would be able to understand their nature and strengths and identify key areas for their success.
In the first part of our series, we look at West Indies, the original World Champions and two-time winners. Ironically, they had to win a qualifying tournament to get into the World Cup. But once they got their entry ticket, they have shown considerable improvement that has allowed their fans to dare to dream again. So, let's look at 5 reasons why West Indians may produce a Caribbean surprise in the upcoming World Cup and walk away with the trophy.
Impressive batting line-up
West Indies have a lot of firepower in their batting department. Chris Gayle seems to be as motivated as he has ever been to perform well in his last ODI event. His partner Evin Lewis has emerged as one of the most dangerous strikers in T20 cricket and can certainly transfer his form into ODIs. But if you are looking for real class, it's likely to come at no. 3 in the form of Shai Hope. The latter has been churning out runs with incredible fecundity and could catapult himself to a superstar level in coming years. These men, along with the likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Darren Bravo, Jason Holder will form a formidable batting line up that, on its day, can make a huge impact.
Captaincy of Jason Holder
In the last World Cup, Holder was still a young man with the responsibility of captaincy thrust upon him. But now, he has experience and has tasted success with the West Indian team. He has matured as a player and probably, as a person also. His leadership now seems inspirational and the tall all-rounder looks comfortable while leading his men. This is another great asset for the Windies.
Revival of West Indian bowling
The recent victory of West Indies over England in a Test series and the drawn series in the ODI format was largely because of the brilliant work of their bowlers. While Shannon Gabriel has shown pace and the ability to make the ball bounce uncomfortably, Kemar Roach's ability to swing the ball seems at par with most others. Bowlers like Oshane Thomas and Sheldon Cottrell have also made an impact through impressive performances. So, the Windies seem quite capable in seam bowling department. If they get slightly helpful conditions, they may well get on top of other teams.
Ability to play spin better this time
In the past, West Indies have really struggled to cope with good spinners. Their batsmen have looked clueless in picking the flight of the ball and tend to camp on the back foot all the time – a tactic that can backfire against decent spinners. But the present team includes players such as Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer who are good players of spin bowling and possess both a solid defence and robust attacking strategy. Add to that the expertise of Shai Hope and spin may not be as big a problem as before.
Presence of good all-rounders
The Windies side would also benefit from the presence of very useful all-rounders in their squad. Jason Holder has improved rapidly in both departments over the last couple of years while Andre Russell is coming off a great run of form in IPL. Carlos Brathwaite hasn't risen to the heights expected of him after his four sixes in the 2016 World T20 Final but the selectors still see great potential in him. The presence of all these men would allow Windies to have a long batting line-up and many bowling options. That is a great luxury.