The Melbourne cricket ground is getting ready for the hosts Australia to take on arch rivals England in their first game and as Bill Lawry says: It is a ripper. Make no mistake; the hosts are ready for the battle. They have already inflicted significant psychological damage on rest of the teams by brutally decimating the challenges posed by South Africa, India and England at home this year. With a fiery bowling attack, which can test the spine of the best and an aggressive batting approach they are the team on the peak of their powers coming into this World Cup.
The only thing that can stop the Aussie juggernaut in this tournament will be over confidence of their batsmen, which in the past also hurt them. However, this time around with a rare chance to win the world cup at home the chances of them faltering look improbable although funny things have happened in the game.
The Aussies strength will be once again their batting. With all the players fit and rearing, the selectors face the tough task of picking the right XI. Dave Warner will be hoping to continue his amazing form of late and along with Aaron Finch, expect some fireworks at the top of the order from this dynamic duo. It will be a critical world cup for Shane Watson and he will need to come up with goods especially now with Mitch Marsh coming of age.
The middle order is stacked with runs, experience and leadership. Steve Smith is the middle of a purple patch and has become a run machine for the Aussies. Expect more to come from him and watch for him on the leaderboards of the tournament run scorers. If there is any weak link in the Aussie team, it is here: Michael Clarke coming back from the injury lay off and George Bailey, whose luck and runs seems to have deserted him. It looks like only one of them will get in the current side stages unless both of them hit the ground running.
Glen Maxwell has been revelation in the modern day cricket. With his highly unorthodox way of playing, he has already caused many a sleepless nights to the opposition captains. Although inconsistent, Australia would clearly want to use him as their joker card and hope he comes off at least in 50% of games they play. His off spin bowling adds another dimension to his game and Australia’s game plans. If the big show delivers in this world cup expect the rest of the show to become a sideshow.
James Faulkner and Mitch Marsh will vie for the crucial all-rounder position. Expect Faulkner who is probably the best finisher in the world along with the Indian skipper to take his place once he is fit and in the meanwhile Marsh would do everything to retain his place. Both of them have the ability to hit the long ball really long and bow a decent medium pace. If it was any other team they both would just walk in.
In Haddin they have one of the best wicket keeper batsmen in the world and his crucial lower order runs have saved many a day for the hosts. His uncomplicated approach epitomizes the modern Aussie game. He would love to have his first world cup and that too at home.
Mitchell Johnson, the man who has instilled fear in the rest of world with his extreme fast bowling is a crucial component of this Aussie machine and is now the leader of bowling pack. His wicket taking ability on the flat wickets is what that separates Australia from many other teams in this tournament. Expect some good quick bowling from him through the world cup and also expect some helmet swaps by the batsmen.
Mitchell Starc has been rated very highly by the Sultan of Swing Wasim Akram himself and he is now maturing into a top quality bowler. His ability to swing the ball at pace is causing flutters among many an opponent’s players. Another quickie back from injury is Pat Cummins and his extreme pace and ability to bowl at the death has made the Aussies look a complete team. Josh Hazlewood forms the last piece of the pace puzzle. His ability to bowl the hard ball and get bounce from good length made him one of the bowler of the summer. Watch out for him during the World Cup.
Doherty forms the lone spinner in the Aussie team and expect him to play only a very dry wicket. Aussies are going to hit the opponents with pace and bounce come February 14. With a destructive batting line up and a dangerous pace bowling quartet combined with spectacular fielding, the Aussies look all set to grab the Cup. Barring unexpected events, expect this team to be atleast among the last two if not the last one left.
Australia Team: George Bailey, Michael Clarke (C), Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (WK), Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.