Finally it’s here…The 2011 ICC World Cup kicks off!

 

The 10th ICC Cricket World Cup was officially unveiled in a spectacular lights display at Bangahandhu Stadium in Bangladesh last night, as the 14 nations who will take part in the International Tournament paraded through the stadium infront of thousands of adoring fans.

Ricky Ponting, skipper of defending champions Australia, led the sparkling three-wheeled procession at the start of the event, showcasing the culture of the three host nations of this tournament – India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Indian singer Sonu Nigam and Bangladesh-based Runa Laila as well as veteran Canadian rocker Bryan Adams were the headline acts among 3,500 performers.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was buoyed with excitement at the prospect of his nation hosting such an event, and stated that he is eagerly looking forward to the tournament.

“I hope that the games will be memorable and exciting,” he said.

“It gives me great pleasure to declare the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup open.”

Let’s preview the competing 14 nations…

AUSTRALIA

It has been over a decade since the Australians have lost a World Cup match – May 23, 1999. They fell to Pakistan that day, before storming home to claim an emphatic second World Cup victory. In 2003 and 2007 they set the benchmark in International Cricket, marching to victory without dropping a single match. Back then of course, their side consisted of match winners Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne. Since the last time they contested for a World Cup, Australia have undergone a tough transition period, which has seen the era of the above players mentioned move on. Skipper Ricky Ponting no longer has the luxury of turning to some of the finest players the country has ever seen when times get tough. Although, Australia were the No.1 ranked ODI nation at the end of 2010 and are the holders of the ICC Champions Trophy – they cannot be dismissed and will be one of the teams to beat.

INDIA

The tournament hosts and red-hot favourites. The weight of expectation on this team his huge and anything less than a victory will not satisfy their billion fans’ thirst for success. Then of course, there is the added pressure of giving Sachin Tendulkar a World Cup success. The closest Tendulkar and India came to victory was in the 2003 final, when India were embarrassed by Australia. But if any team is equipped to deal with the hype and pressure, it is this group. A potent mix of youth and experience, power hitters and steady batsmen, spinners and seamers. This team will not leave the pitch without a fight.

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka have a rich World Cup history. Once they were considered minor challengers who upset established Test nations and many will remember their 1996 triumph and they almost added another trophy to their cabinet in the 2007 final against heavyweights Australia. They are a big chance in this year’s World Cup tournament, no doubt. They will also be looking to give Muttiah Muralitharan a memorable send off as he says goodbye to International Test Cricket. With the added luxury of playing most of their group matches at home, this World Cup is set up for the Lankans to have a massive crack at claiming their second title.

SOUTH AFRICA

Aside from four-time winners Australia, South Africa have the best-winning percentage at World Cups (65%), but they are still yet to reach a final. Since their first World Cup appearance in 1992, the South Africans have always fielded a gun side capable of winning the tournament. Yet every time they have disappointed, never more so than the 2003 tournament when they failed to make it past the group stages on home soil. Again this year they will field a top side capable of taking the ICC Champions Trophy – they have the world’s two top-ranked ODI batsmen at the end of 2010, in Hashim Amia and AB de Villiers as well as a pace attack which is the envy of every country. Their challenge still remains – can they tighten up in the throat at crucial times in this year’s World Cup?

ENGLAND

The World Cup has been a story of heartache for the Poms, yet they enter this year’s tournament fresh off their emphatic victory of the Ashes seres in Australia, which gives them plenty of confidence heading into a tournament having beaten the 2007 ICC Champion Trophy winners. On paper, England has a side capable of giving the tournament a massive shake up. Lethal opening bowlers, a world-class spinner and batting line-up that has both big hitters and cool-headed stroke makers. They will enter the tournament full of confidence, having won all four of their ODI series, a breakthrough tournament success with the World T20 in 2010, plus the emphatic Ashes series win over Australia. One to watch.

PAKISTAN

Pakistan’s form is hard to pick. Their consistency is a real problem for them. When they’re off, they are a rabble and put themselves in all sorts of trouble. But when they’re on, they will destroy anything in their path. They boast a strong stable of quicks, a steady top-order and middle-order dashers who can give the run-rate a big nudge in a short period of time. If the planets align, they will be a major darkhorse. If not, they could fall apart badly like they did in 2007, when they handed Ireland their maiden World Cup victory and missed the Super Eights stage.

NEW ZEALAND

On paper, New Zealand have all the ingredients of a very handy ODI side. The world’s No.1 ranked bowler; a bloke who was the No.1 ranked bowler in 2009; and the most explosive wicket keeper-batsman in the game heading up a dangerous batting line-up. But that’s on paper. Paper doesn’t win you games of cricket, yet alone World Cups! The Kiwis sit a lowly seventh in the ICC ODI rankings after a couple disasters at end of the 2010 ODI series. They have reached the semi-finals in five of the nine World Cups, but they will need to pick up their acts considerably if they are to emulate that achievement this time round.

WEST INDIES

Gone are the days when the West Indies ruled the world with fear and intimidation, but there is still a very competitive edge to this side. There are still a few fast bowlers who love to play tight and bang the ball in short and batsmen who love to hit the ball long. And if Chris Gayle fires at the top of the order, anything is possible. Inconsistency has plagued this side for too long and the cold hard fact is that they haven’t won an ODI series against a Test-playing nation since beating Sri Lanka at home in April 2008. At the end of 2010 they had slumped to eighth on the ODI team rankings – just one point ahead of Bangladesh. They need to assert themselves from the beginning or could face an early exit.

BANGLADESH

Wins have been few and far between for this side at their three World Cups. But they have managed to cause some major victories when they’ve got it right. While they haven’t progressed at the rate they hoped when they gained full Test status in 2000, their recent 4-0 drubbing of New Zealand in a five-match home series, followed by a comprehensive three-one win over Zimbabwe, indicates things are looking up. In captain Shakib Al Hasan, opening batsman Tammim Iqbal, middle-order man Mohammad Ashraful and left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak they have a handful of world-class players. But depth will be greatly tested in this tournament.

IRELAND

They might have shocked everyone by reaching the Super Eights at the 2007 World Cup, but this time around there will be no flying under the radar for the Irish lads. After famously upsetting Pakistan and playing a tied match with Zimbabwe to reach the second stage at the previous tournament, Ireland have gone ahead even further by winning the ICC World Cricket League Division One in July. They are now the No.1 ranked ICC second-tier nation, and having produced players the quality of Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce in recent years, no team should take this team lightly who have been impressive to say the least.

ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe enjoyed Test status and a golden era during the 1990s, when they boasted a handful of world-class players and, on their day, were competitive in the five-day and one-day games, causing the occasional upset. Unfortunately, political chaos within the troubled African nation and a drop-off in Test quality players, which has led to their Test status being rescinded, has affected the side no doubt. Their first ever World Cup match in 1983 resulted in a stunning upset win over Australia and they reached the Super Six stage in 1999 and 2003. This team is currently getting past the off-field distraction of political trouble within their nation and a successful World Cup is a good start.

NETHERLANDS

More well-known for their national colour orange, soccer and wooden shoes then their love of cricket, the Netherlands are reported to have embraced the bat-and-ball game in their nation all the way back in the 1780s. Now there’s an interesting piece of cricket trivia! It wasn’t until 1996 that the Neverlands first played international cricket, making an unfavourable World Cup debut. Since then they have made infrequent international appearances, sticking mainly to Emerging Nations tournaments. They did beat Bangladesh in a one-off ODI in Scotland last July and boast two World Cup victories – over Scotland in 2007 and Namibia by 64 runs in 2003. Not expecting a whole lot.

KENYA

Kenya have dropped dramatically since those thrilling days of 2003, when they stunned everyone to reach the World Cup semi-finals. Despite being the only professional outfit at the 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division One tournament in the Netherlands last July, they finished a depressing last, failing to win a match, even losing to teams that did not qualify for the World Cup. It paints a very grim picture of Kenya’s hopes on an international scale, and they will desperately need some of their seasoned campaigners to turn back the clock to their formidable 2003 form if they are to put up a respectable showing this year. A tough call for the struggling Kenyans.

CANADA

Canada were a part of the 1979 World Cup but it wasn’t until they re-emerged on the world scene 24 years later in 2003 that anyone sat up and took notice. Batsman John Davison’s extraordinary hitting saw to that and, despite Canada having only ever won one single World Cup match, they have since established themselves as a respectable nation in the ICC’s second-tier international competition, even recently signing a sponsorship with footwear and apparel giants Reebok. But the Canadians will need more than that to challenge group opponents such as Sri Lanka, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand, however, their clashes with Zimbabwe and Kenya are expected to be tight matches.

2011 ICC World Cup Schedule

# Date & Time Match Venue
1 19 Feb,2011 08:30 AM GMT INDIA vs BANGLADESH Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
2 20 Feb,2011 04:00 AM GMT NEW ZEALAND vs KENYA MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
3 20 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT SRI LANKA vs CANADA Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota
4 21 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT AUSTRALIA vs ZIMBABWE Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, Motera
5 22 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT ENGLAND vs NETHERLANDS Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur
6 23 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT PAKISTAN vs KENYA Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota
7 24 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT SOUTH AFRICA vs WEST INDIES Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
8 25 Feb,2011 04:00 AM GMT AUSTRALIA vs NEW ZEALAND Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur
9 25 Feb,2011 08:30 AM GMT BANGLADESH vs IRELAND Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
10 26 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT PAKISTAN vs SRI LANKA R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
11 27 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT INDIA vs ENGLAND M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
12 28 Feb,2011 04:00 AM GMT ZIMBABWE vs CANADA Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur
13 28 Feb,2011 09:00 AM GMT WEST INDIES vs NETHERLANDS Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
14 01 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT SRI LANKA vs KENYA R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
15 02 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT ENGLAND vs IRELAND M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
16 03 Mar,2011 04:00 AM GMT SOUTH AFRICA vs NETHERLAND Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
17 03 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT PAKISTAN vs CANADA R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
18 04 Mar,2011 04:00 AM GMT NEW ZEALAND vs ZIMBABWE Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, Motera
19 04 Mar,2011 08:30 AM GMT BANGLADESH vs WEST INDIES Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
20 05 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT AUSTRALIA vs SRI LANKA R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
21 06 Mar,2011 04:00 AM GMT SOUTH AFRICA vs ENGLAND MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
22 06 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT INDIA vs IRELAND M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
23 07 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT CANADA vs KENYA Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
24 08 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT PAKISTAN vs NEW ZEALAND Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy
25 09 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT INDIA vs NETHERLANDS Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
26 10 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT SRI LANKA vs ZIMBABWE Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy
27 11 Mar,2011 04:00 AM GMT WEST INDIES vs IRELAND Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
28 11 Mar,2011 08:30 AM GMT BANGLADESH vs ENGLAND Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong
29 12 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur
30 13 Mar,2011 04:00 AM GMT NEW ZEALAND vs CANADA Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
31 13 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT AUSTRALIA vs KENYA M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
32 14 Mar,2011 03:30 AM GMT BANGALDESH vs NETHERLANDS Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong
33 14 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT PAKISTAN vs ZIMBABWE Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy
34 15 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT SOUTH AFRICA vs IRELAND Eden Gardens, Kolkata
35 16 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT AUSTRALIA vs CANADA M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
36 17 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT ENGLAND vs WEST INDIES MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
37 18 Mar,2011 04:00 AM GMT NETHERLANDS vs IRELAND Eden Gardens, Kolkata
38 18 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT NEW ZEALAND vs SRI LANKA Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
39 19 Mar,2011 03:30 AM GMT BANGLADESH vs SOUTH AFRICA Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
40 19 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT AUSTRALIA vs PAKISTAN R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
41 20 Mar,2011 04:00 AM GMT ZIMBABWE vs KENYA Eden Gardens, Kolkata
42 20 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT INDIA vs WEST INDIES MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
43 23 Mar,2011 08:30 AM GMT A1 vs B4 (1st Quarter Final, C) Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
44 24 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT A2 vs B3 (2nd Quarter Final, D) Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, Motera
45 25 Mar,2011 08:30 AM GMT A3 vs B2 (3rd Quarter Final, E) Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
46 26 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT A4 vs B1 (4th Quarter Final, F) R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
47 29 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT Winner C vs Winner E (1st Semi Final) R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
48 30 Mar,2011 09:00 AM GMT Winner D vs Winner F (2nd Semi Final) Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
49 02 Apr,2011 09:00 AM GMT SF1 vs SF2 (Final) Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai







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