Out of the ten teams participating in the World Cup starting on May 30th, four of them – West Indies, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – are considered to be “weak” but dangerous on their day. There’s also the unpredictable Pakistan. But an upset is arguably defined as a result in favour of a ‘minnow’ against an experienced World Cup contender.
Out of the 45 group stage games involving these 10 teams, here are five possible upsets:
June 8: Afghanistan defeats New Zealand
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) May 30, 2019
The Afghans will be no pushovers this tournament, because they bring with them the world-class bowling abilities of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi. Afghanistan managed to win only 1 game in their 2015 World Cup debut (Scotland), and will be keen to replicate their T20 pedigree in the ODI World Cup. First in line will be their performance against Kane Williamson’s New Zealand – a team that, at times, struggles to counter Asian spinners. Rashid has played under Williamson in the IPL, but this will be a true test of the Kiwi batsmen, who have a soft batting underbelly beyond Williamson and Ross Taylor. Boult and Neesham will have to bowl well to prevent an upset.
June 6: West Indies defeats Australia
Everyone is scared of the monstrous hitter in the West Indies team. There’s Gayle, Holder, Russell and Braithwaite, and they scored 428 against New Zealand in a warm-up game despite being bowled out before their 50 overs. On their day, and there will be a few, they might destroy bowling attacks. They can cause a flutter by defeating one of the pre-tournament favourites, Australia, on a flat Nottingham pitch. Warner, Smith and co. will be wary, while Starc and Cummins will be warier.
June 21: Sri Lanka defeats England
Nobody gives Sri Lanka a chance. The last time that happened, they blindsided South Africa by defeating them in a stunning 2-1 Test series victory in South Africa itself. But their ODI team leaves a lot to be desired (they lost 5-0 in the ODI leg). Yet, by the time they face hosts England on June 21st, they might be hurting and desperate to prove a point. England are the favourites to win the Cup, but they might have a few hiccups on the way – possibly in this encounter against Sri Lanka, where perhaps not much will be on the line for them.
June 2: Bangladesh beats South Africa
An upset could occur as early as the fifth game of the tournament, where South Africa, that had last lost to Bangladesh in a World Cup in 2007, could be overwhelmed by the competent bowling unit of the Tigers. For once, South Africa doesn’t start as pre-tournament favourites, but them being beaten is always an upset, especially if it is in the league stages, where they always start strong before losing in the knockouts.
June 29: Afghanistan beats Pakistan
— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) May 30, 2019
On paper, the two teams actually start as equals. Pakistan did well against England in the recent ODI series despite losing 4-0 (they scored in excess of 300 all four times), but the Afghanistan bowling unit is arguably more versatile than England’s. The Afghans will not be mere spectators this time, and one should expect at least two defeats of Test-playing nations over the next few fortnights at their hands. A competent Ireland might have added more spice to proceedings, too. But perhaps it is a blessing that the 2019 Cricket World Cup seems to be the most evenly matched one yet. At least on paper.
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