The 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup is underway! England and South Africa kicked off the tournament on Thursday night and the Australians begin their title defence campaign on Saturday night with their opening game against Afghanistan.
We’ll be providing full coverage of all nine of the Aussies round robin matches as well as full game previews for both semi-finals and the World Cup Final in July!
Without taking too much away from Afghanistan, who have improved out of sight in intenational cricket over the past five years, the Aussies will be extremely grateful to the scheduling gods for the lighter start to the tournament.
The big question around the Australian side will be their top order and who gets the inevitable chop from the top five. If you lock Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey into the sex and seven position, which is the consensus at the moment, there is six batsmen fighting it out for the five spots in the Australian top/middle order.
David Warner, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell are the players fighting it out for the five spots and the man on the outer at the moment seems to be Marsh. Regardless of who gets the nod for the Aussies, their batting line-up as a whole has been in some great form of late.
Australia has won their last 8 official ODI matches in a row including a three game comeback in their series against India followed by a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan. The Aussie bowling line-up will be bolstered by the addition of paceman Mitch Starc, who hasn’t played a ODI match since November of 2018 but was arguably the difference in the Aussies 2015 World Cup win.
Backed up by arguably one of the best cricketers in the world at the moment in Pat Cummins, the Australian pace attack is a world class one, and the remaining spot is still up for grabs. Nathan Coulter-Nile looks the best bet at the moment while Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff will have to wait their turn.
As we mentioned above, the rise of Afghanistan in world cricket over the last five years has been meteoric. They are now the 10th ranked ODI team in the world after overtaking the likes of Zimbabwe, Ireland and Scotland recently and they owe much of their success to a lethal spin attack.
Led by one of the best leg-spinners in the world and the No.2 overall ranked ODI bowler, Rashid Khan, the Afghans rely on bowling teams out for low totals and giving their streaky, but at times vulnerable batting line-up a great chance to win the match.
Alongside Khan are some other notable white ball cricketers that have made a name for themselves in the Big Bash League and other T20 competitions around the world. Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi have set the Big Bash alight over the last few years and will create a lethal three-pronged spin attack alongside Khan.
Batting looks to be their main concern. Mohammad Shahzad is a world class batter but is probably the only one that Afghanistan possess. So much will rest on his shoulders in this tournament.
Tough to see the Aussies losing this one with the ODI form they have been in of late. There’s not much meat on the bone with Australia opening at just $1.08 to win the match. We do think the team to score the most sixes and win market is great value. Australia have a hard hitting opening pair in Warner and Finch, only one of them should need to get going paired with the likes of Maxwell and Stoinis later in the innings to secure enough sixes.
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