x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Team by team guide of Group B at the Cricket World Cup

A short record of all the teams and their strengths and weaknesses as they do battle on the subcontinent.

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BANGLADESH

Best World Cup performance: Super 8s (2007).

Last World Cup: Super 8s.

Captain: Shakib al Hasan.

Coach: Jamie Siddons (Australia).

World Cup record: 5-14, 1 no result.

Key players: Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful.

Strengths: Bangladesh have had some stunning victories, including their first in the World Cup over Pakistan in 1999, and wins over India and South Africa in 2007. That success, coupled with a win over England in 2010 which meant that Bangladesh have now beaten every full ICC member in the one-day format, should give the players confidence. Add the fact that Bangladesh are in the top eight of the ODI rankings and it is easy to see why captain Shakib al Hasan thinks his side can reach the quarter-finals.

Weaknesses: Most observers think Bangladesh will be gone after the group stage; they would need at least three wins to stand a chance of progress. They face a demanding start against India and will miss their fast bowling allrounder Mashrafe Mortaza, who was left out because of a knee injury.

 

ENGLAND

Best World Cup performance: Finalist (1979, 1987, 1992).

Last World Cup: Super 8s.

Captain: Andrew Strauss

Coach: Andy Flower (Zimbabwe).

World Cup record: 36-22, 1 no result.

Key Players: Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann.

Strengths: They are a good side with a potential match winner in Pietersen, coupled with solid batting support from Strauss and Paul Collingwood, and an able off-spinner in Swann. England proved they have cracked limited-over cricket by winning the World Twenty20 title last year and reeling off five ODI series wins against South African, Bangladesh (twice), Australia and Pakistan from late 2009 to late 2010.

Weaknesses: England have not reached the knockout rounds at the World Cup since 1996 and was hammered 6-1 by Australia in a recent ODI series. Top batsman Eoin Morgan has been lost to injury, while Swann, paceman Ajmal Shahzad and all-rounder Tim Bresnan have all been temporarily sidelined. In terms of track record, England have often struggled in the limited-overs game in the subcontinent.

 

INDIA

Best World Cup performance: Champions (1983).

Last World Cup: Group Stage.

Captain: MS Dhoni.

Coach: Gary Kirsten (South Africa).

World Cup record: 32-25, 1 no result.

Key players: Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh.

Strengths: Being a tournament host, with passionate support and an intimate knowledge of the pitches, are just the first of India's advantages. They also have the world's best batsman in Tendulkar. Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and their unflappable captain Dhoni add further batting strength, while Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh offer a mix of pace and spin which can prove devastating.

Weaknesses: Home advantage also brings pressure and expectations. Form has been patchy, with a 3-2 defeat in its most recent ODI series against South Africa. Impressive though the batting line-up is on paper, they do not all deliver consistently - a fact that was underlined when the spinners had to save their side in a warm-up win over Australia.

 

IRELAND

Best World Cup performance: Super 8s (2007)

Last World Cup: Super 8s.

Captain: William Porterfield.

Coach: Phil Simmons (West Indies).

World Cup record: 2-6, 1 no result.

Key players: Porterfield, Ed Joyce.

Strengths: Porterfield reckons he has a better squad than the one which caused a major upset in 2007, beating Pakistan in the group stage. This time, 13 of the 15-man squad are playing professionally, compared with the largely amateur side of four years ago. Seam bowler Boyd Rankin, Ireland's leading wicket-taker at the 2007 event, has recovered from a stress fracture in his foot that has sidelined him since July.

Weaknesses: Things will be hard the Irish, who have lost their inspirational batsman from 2007 to the England camp - although Eoin Morgan has been ruled out by injury. The size of the task was made clear by three defeats in warm-up games against New Zealand, Kenya and Zimbabwe, along with a 2-1 loss to Zimbabwe in an ODI series.

 

NETHERLANDS

Best World Cup performance: Group Stage (1996, 2003, 2007).

Last World Cup: Group stage.

Captain: Peter Borren.

Coach: Peter Drinnen (Australia).

World Cup record: 2-12.

Key players: Ryan ten Doeschate, Pieter Seelaar.

Strengths: The batting will be the strong point, albeit for probably the weakest side at the tournament. If Ten Doeschate can get into his stride, the Essex batsman could cause opposing teams a few problems. The same is true for Tom Cooper, who plays for South Australia, and Worcestershire's Alexi Kervezee. A third World Cup match victory, after beating Namibia and Scotland in previous tournaments, could be a possibility.

Weaknesses: The bowling is unlikely to stand the test of the major nations. Memories of the six sixes which Herschelle Gibbs clobbered in one over by Daan van Bunge in 2007 will be fresh in the memory. A crushing 156-run defeat by Sri Lanka in a warm-up, along with a punishing 115-run loss to Zimbabwe, suggest things have not improved on the bowling front in the last four years.

 

SOUTH AFRICA

Best World Cup performance: Semifinals (1992, 1999, 2007).

Last World Cup: Semi-finals.

Captain: Graeme Smith.

Coach: Corrie van Zyl.

World Cup record: 25-13, 2 ties.

Key players: Smith, Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn.

Strengths: South Africa have outstanding individual performers with Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers leading the ODI batting rankings, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel considered the best fast bowling combination and Jacques Kallis probably the top all-rounder. Smith has captained the Proteas in more one-dayers than any other player and is experienced and hugely respected.

Weaknesses: South Africa have a miserable record at the tournament where they have regularly underperformed and could again be troubled by failures on the big stage. Likely to be the last chance of World Cup success for Smith and Kallis, two of South Africa's greats. A fast bowler-heavy attack led by Steyn, Morkel, Kallis and Lonwabo Tsotsobe may not be as effective as the Proteas are used to on the slower pitches of the subcontinent.

 

WEST INDIES

Best World Cup performance: Champions (1975, 1979).

Last World Cup: Super 8s.

Captain: Darren Sammy.

Coach: Ottis Gibson.

World Cup record: 35-21,1 no result.

Key players: Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo.

Strengths: Individual efforts from the likes of Gayle, who has huge experience to draw on as well as an unquestioned ability with the bat, represent the best hopes for a West Indies side which has struggled over the past year. The same can be said for Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan with the bat, captain and all-rounder Darren Sammy, while promising pace bowler Kemar Roach could provide a real help if the pitch suited.

Weaknesses: A lack of form continues to hinder the winners of the first two tournaments, particularly in the one-day format. A 2-0 series defeat by Sri Lanka followed last year's 5-0 loss to South Africa and a 4-0 drubbing in Australia over 2009-10. Harmony in the ranks has not been a strong point in West Indies cricket recently.