After two months of jaw-dropping IPL action, the cricketing fraternity’s attention will now divert to the ICC Cricket World Cup. The quadrennial event will take place in England and Wales. Ten countries from all over the globe will challenge each other for cricket’s most prestigious trophy.
The new format will consist of a single group of 10 teams where each team will play each other once, and the top four teams at the end of the group phase will progress to the semi-finals.
A blend of youth and experience would be featuring in the World Cup. Here, we look at three veterans who could be match winners for their respective teams.
MS Dhoni’s World Cup winning six in 2011 still gives every Indian goosebumps. The Ranchi born cricketer is the only captain in history to win the Cricket World Cup, Champions Trophy and the World Twenty20. With 10,500 runs to his name in 341 ODI matches, the former Indian skipper is one of the greatest batsmen the game has ever seen. However, Dhoni’s contribution to Indian cricket is much more than the runs he has scored or the accolades he has won.
The wicket-keeper batsman made his ODI debut in 2004 against Bangladesh. But it was his 148 against Pakistan in 2005 that made him a household name in the nation. He followed it up with a magnificent knock of 183 against Sri Lanka later that year. The 2011 Cricket World Cup Final still remains the highlight of Dhoni’s career, where he played a match-winning innings of 91 to help India lift the World Cup after 28 years
The former skipper has been in red-hot form in the past few months and was instrumental in India’s series victories in Australia and New Zealand. Virat Kohli will not only rely heavily on his finishing ability but also his tactical brilliance this World Cup.
The ‘Universe Boss’ needs no introduction. If ever there was an award for entertaining the fans, there is no doubt that Chris Gayle would win it hands down. Gayle’s illustrious career started way back in 1999 against India. Since then, the southpaw has been prolific and has scored 10,151 runs in 289 ODI matches for his country.
The Jamaican born opener was adjudged the Player of the series in the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy, a title which West Indies almost defended. Gayle scored 474 runs in the tournament and also took 8 wickets. In the 2015 Cricket World Cup, he became the first player to score a double century in a World Cup.
Just when the world thought Chris Gayle’s career had come to an end, the 39-year-old shocked the world again with his scintillating batting display against England earlier this year. He scored 424 runs in four games and was named the Player of the Series. The 2019 Cricket World Cup will be Chris Gayle’s final international appearance and if West Indies have any chance winning the title, the Universe Boss will have to go all guns blazing.
The Sri Lankan veteran made his ODI debut against the United Arab Emirates in 2004. Lasith Malinga impressed everyone in the 2007 World Cup Super Eight match against South Africa, where he became the first man to take four wickets in four consecutive balls and nearly pulled off an improbable victory for his side.
Malinga’s uncanny ability to nail yorkers at will and outfox world-class batsman with his slower balls make him a match winner in the shorter format. The Sri Lankan speedster has 322 scalps to his name in 218 ODI matches and is the only man who has taken three Hat-tricks in ODI cricket.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup is likely to be Malinga’s last and he will be determined to take his country over the line and fascinate his fans one more time with his toe-crushing deliveries.