WHY india can win

Ever since Kapil Dev held aloft the glittering World Cup trophy in 1983, the nation, now of a billion-plus, has been praying for an encore. The prayers are rising to a crescendo as February 19, the day when the 2011 campaign begins, comes closer. The Tribune sports correspondents, who weigh the strengths and weaknesses of various teams in the following pages of this special pullout, are optimistic that Team India does have the firepower to make a serious effort and present this coveted gift to all Indians, especially Sachin Tendulkar, for whom this might well be the last World Cup. Here, we present a rundown on the teams, batsmen and bowlers to watch out for, the preview to a tournament that promises the world to us. It could be a three-horse race, with India, Sri Lanka and England being touted as potential champions. However, in cricket, always expect the unexpected. Many of the sides that had been written off, are now beginning to find their feet again. Come April 2, and one team will be ecstatic. Let the best side win!



Team captains (Lto R): Darren Sammy (West Indies),
 Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Graeme Smith (South Africa),
 M S Dhoni (India), Ricky Ponting (Australia),
 Andrew Strauss (England) and
 Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka

As the cricketing world waits for the action to begin, Jaideep Ghosh takes a look at the teams that are vying to script history
It does not get bigger than this...
...when it comes to cricket, and when it is played here, at home, it becomes gigantic. The Indian subcontinent is what makes cricket the huge sport that it is and with the top event promising to capture the attention and imagination of all concerned, this one promises to make history.

A historic win
UNE 25, 1983, was indeed a very special day for India. On this day, Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential World Cup at the Lordís. The odds against India winning the Cup before the tournament started were 1 to 66.

guide to ICC cricket world cup 2011

WORLD CUP 2011 itinerary
Prize Money
past winners
best of the best
MOST 100s and MOST 50s
MOST 6s and MOST 4s

Run-up to victory                                                
IN nine editions of World Cup Cricket championship, the host of first three editions England ó despite ending runners-up thrice ó have not been able to become the champions so far.

INDIA'S Best chance                                         
A strong batting and bowling line-up has raised hopes of Indiaís performance,
writes Sunil Narula

INDIAís World Cup win in 1983 is the benchmark. It has always been. Ever since Kapil Dev lifted the trophy at the Lordís 28 years ago, the image has remained etched in the memory of most Indians.

Key player

The last hurrah                                                                                                
Sunil Narula
F course, it is difficult to believe but even Sachin Tendulkar has still not achieved a couple of things in cricket. For instance, he has never been part of the World Cup winning team (Also, he has never scored a triple hundred in Tests).

Thunder from Down Under                                                                                
The Australian selectors have made sensible moves, some late in the day, to put together a side of interesting mixes,
says Jaideep Ghosh
OVE them or hate them, you cannot ignore them. Australia are a side who have, over the years, been at the receiving end of a lot of spite, but most of it originated from envy, since on the field they had been practically unbeatable for a long time, indeed.

Key player

The African challenge                                                                                                       
The immensely talented South Africans have it in them to beat any team, provided they can conquer their own mental fallibilities, says Jaideep Ghosh
Beating South Africa is easy ó if you are South Africa, that is. Few teams have played more famous, or shall we say notorious, matches in the World Cup. The immensely talented side has almost always fallen victim to one scourge ó their own mental fallibility.

The roar of the Lankans                                                                                   
With talent, history and subcontinent tracks on their side, Lanka are billed among the top three favourite teams,
reports Vaibhav Sharma
Remember 1996? That was the last time the ODI World Cup was played in the Indian subcontinent. Every World Cup is remembered for its eventual winners, but this one was different. This time, the winners were not just worth remembering because they lifted the silverware, but also because they taught their more-established counterparts a lesson or two on the way.

Key player

Pakistan can surprise                                                                                       
The uncertainty that surrounds Pakistan means that they can turn the game at any point of time. They have the aura that a World Cup winning side should have, says Vaibhav Sharma
THE person who said cricket is a game of uncertainties was probably watching Pakistan play. Since the time they started playing the gentlemanís game, the immensely talented subcontinent giants have built and reinforced their reputation for turning a game on its head, and it doesnít always turn in their favour.

Key player

England need to adapt                                                                                                      
England have played most of their recent cricket in Australia. It will all boil down to how quickly they can adjust to the conditions in the subcontinent, writes Sunil Narula
Stuart Broad is no longer the same raw bowler who was spanked for six sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh on a cold September evening in Durban in 2007. He has matured. That game of the inaugural T20 World Cup is now a distant, faraway memory.

Key player

New Zealand is the dark horse                                                                                         
After recent defeats against Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, the Kiwis are virtually scraping the bottom. But this unpredictable team has a record in the cricket World Cup, which is not something to be trifled with, writes M. S. Unnikrishnan
Though New Zealand boast of a long history in cricket, they have never really been a big force in the game. But they, sure, are an unpredictable team who cannot be wished away by any team. The Black Caps, as the Kiwi cricket team is known, have a record in the cricket World Cup, which is not something to be trifled with.

See the pages as they were printed

Compiled by: Jaideep Ghosh, Sunil Narula, M. S. Unnikrishnan and Vaibhav Sharma 
Edited by: Amar Chandel, Yajan Kashyap, Chetna Keer Banerjee, Renu Manish Sinha and Seema Sachdeva
Cover design by: Vishal Prashar
Layout: Ashwani Narang, Gaurav Sood and Vishal Prashar

Key player

Small guns may fire big                                                          
After the seven big teams in the fray, we now come to the second bunch of another seven teams. After what India achieved in 1983, it can be quite absurd to term any team as minnows in this unpredictable format but surely this next cluster of seven teams appear to be on a level slightly below the top seven.

Fall of the mighty

Key player

Party poopers

Just for the numbers

Way off the mark

Chance for the minnows                                                          

United Nations of cricket

Dubious distance runners

Stout, but not serious contenders