Fourteen teams are ready to give their best over the next forty four days. Of course, some of them will leave Australia after the group stages but, in essence, all are going to play a part in making this a grand event over the next month and a half.
The Test playing nations (sans Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, perhaps) will eye for a spot in the semi-finals. The other teams will be quite happy if they win against one or two of the Test playing nations, which might well take them through to the knock-out stage.
In Pool A, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Scotland will fight between themselves for wins. All of them will fancy their chances against each other. England, Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand will fight between themselves to occupy the top position. These two sets might look to be mutually exclusive but, interestingly, they are not. The interaction between the two sets will generally lead to expected results but one or two upsets here and there can really open the group up.
Australia and New Zealand look good for semi-finals spots. Sri Lanka will look to finish in top two in the group and would ideally want to face the listless West Indies team or the out-of-form Indian team. That would enhance their chance of reaching the semi-finals.
England will first want to ensure that they are through to the knock-outs and then they will take it from there.
Pool B, in all probability, will lead to more interesting match-ups. Zimbabwe, Ireland and UAE are the so-called minnows in the group but all of them have been in decent form of late and are looking forward to toppling one of the top teams in the group, at least. South Africa are the best team in this group, on paper. India and Pakistan are unpredictable but they should go through to the knock-out stages. Both of them will look to avoid the hosts in the quarter-finals to increase their chance of making it to the final four. West Indies must make sure that they beat the minnows because they will find it tough against the other Test playing nations. Multiple upsets are possible in this group and none of the teams look to be outright favourites to finish on top.
The quarter finals should feature the top eight nations as per ICC rankings but even if there are a couple of ‘mishaps’, the line up for semi-finals should only include the top nations.
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa look good to reach that stage. All three have pretty well balanced squads, especially the first two. India, Sri Lanka and England too have a very realistic chance of making it to the business end of the tournament.
It is tough (and perhaps unwise) to predict the finalists but both hosts will be disappointed if they fail to reach the finals.
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Here's our analysis of the Team Strengths.