To say that Sri Lanka enter the 2019 World Cup in total and utter disarray would be an understatement. When Chandika Hathurusingha took over as coach in December 2017, there was hope that the tough taskmaster could revitalize Sri Lanka’s fortunes as he did with Bangladesh. These hopes have been quickly dashed with Sri Lanka possessing an abysmal ODI record having since the 2017 Champions Trophy lost 33 of 44 ODIs and been whitewashed 5-0 by South Africa in their last series.
On paper, West Indies are not supposed to compete with the big team favourites like England, India and Australia. But as they say, games are not won on paper. This team is known for its charismatic style and big hitting stroke-makers and is one which will never run out of hitters. They may have re-branded them as “The Windies” in recent times, but those who have followed cricket for a while will know that that the West Indies team of yore was renowned for winning two consecutive World Cups in ‘75 and ‘79 at a time when ODI cricket was just developing. Fast-forward to 2019, and you could be forgiven for harbouring hopes that the somehow a bunch of 11 cricketers from various islands could somehow gel together and produce a performance to inspire the dawn of cricket on the “Indies Islands” once more. Taking a back-burner to basketball most of the times, captain Jason Holder, the inspiring all-rounder will be looking to show through his individual and team’s performances that they are force to be reckoned with and are ready to carve out another glorious chapter in the history of West Indies Cricket.
Armed with fighting words and encouragement from the coach and captain, and now sporting a new ODI kit, the Pakistan World Cup squad is heading for ICC’s premier 50-over tournament in England. The preparations, if one could call them such, have been far from ideal. Back-to-back whitewashes by Australia and England in ODIs have had a demoralising effect on a team which has historically done well in England. However, being outwitted by their opponents in pretty much all aspects of the game have lead to pronouncements of doom and gloom for the Men in Green and it appears that the road ahead is nothing but bumpy for the 1992 World Cup winners but the question on everyone's minds is simply, will Pakistan's 'Cornered Tigers' rise to the challenge and surprise us all?
Writing for FirstPost, Saj explains why apart from the sheer brilliance of their opponents and back-to-back ODI series losses, what really came to light were the weaknesses in Pakistan's preparations ahead of the World Cup.