With the biggest cricket spectacle, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, just days away, and the provisional squads for all the 10 participating teams already announced, it is time to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
The May 23 deadline for making any changes to the 15-member squads is just around the corner. There have been some forced changes for some teams due to injuries, but most squads are likely to remain unchanged.
Let's take a look at the strongest playing 11 of all the 10 teams for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019:
Virat Kohli. Photo: PTIIndia named their 15-man squad on April 15 and there were some surprises: Rishabh Pant, touted as the best batsman to solve their number-four conundrum, was not included in the 15-player list; Vijay Shankar was chosen for his "3-dimentional abilities" and Dinesh Karthik was given another chance as the team needed and experienced hand behind the wickets.
Virat Kohli will lead the side and he is likely to play a crucial role in the batting line-up along with Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and veteran MS Dhoni. The bowling department will be spearheaded by the experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will make the spin attack, with Ravindra Jadeja also playing a key role.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.
Strongest Playing 11: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami.
David Warner Photo: PTIThe Australian side has received a boost with the return of David Warner and Steve Smith, who had been banned for a year following a ball-tampering scandal. The side seemed to have lost its winning ways, but now seemed to have plugged the holes ahead of World Cup 2019 and are one of the strongest sides.
Warner, Smith and Usman Khawaja would be the key batsmen for the side, with Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa would shoulder the bowling responsibility.
Squad: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon.
Strongest Playing 11: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa.
England Batsman Jonny Bairstow (Photo: ICC)Touted as one of the favourites this time, the England team, world no.1 at present, seem to be at the peak of their performance, considering their recent exploits, especially at home.
England skipper Eoin Morgan will have the company of Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and Joe Root in the batting department, and all of them have been in good touch. If Jofra Archer, who has been in a phenomenal form, finds his way into the final squad, the side would become even stronger and balanced.
Squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Strongest Playing 11: Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Liam Plunkett, David Willey
Imam-ul-Haq (Photo:ICC)The youngest team in the World Cup in terms of average age of the squad, Pakistan have a good balance. Sarfaraz Ahmed will lead a team with most members playing their maiden World Cup. The omission of pacer Mohammad Amir's name has come as a surprise to many, but Mohammad Hasnain, Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali could be a treat to watch in the tournament. Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq have been at the top of their game and have the ability to be the most dangerous batsmen in the tournament. The team's management on Thursday decided to bring left-arm pacer Mohammad Aamir, who was not considered earlier, in the squad.
The side will have the experience of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, while Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim will take care of the spin department.
Squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan, Muhammad Hasnain/Mohammad Aamir.
Strongest Playing 11: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan.
South African batsman Faf du PlessisMost of the South African players in their World Cup squad have had a decent experience and exposure to the international circuit.
Skipper Faf du Plessis will play a crucial role as he has been in form and wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock would have an equal responsibility.
Hashim Amla will be an experienced player in the batting department, while Dale Steyn would play the same role in bowling. Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir will also be key players, if their successful run with the ball in the IPL 2019 is anything to go by.
Squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Strongest Playing 11: Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir.
Kane WilliamsonNew Zealand have always been a strong contender for the World Cup and they would look to give a strong competition to other teams in the tournament's 12th edition, too, with Kane Williamson leading an experienced side.
Ross Taylor has appeared in three World Cups, while Martin Guptill and Tim Southee would be playing their third. The team has included debutant Tom Blundell for wicket-keeping duty, apart from Tom Latham.
Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham.
Strongest Playing 11: Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson
Chris Gayle (Photo: ICC)The Caribbean squad for the World Cup is a mixed bag, with some new names and many familiar ones. Jason Holder will lead the side and he would have Chris Gayle, playing his last World Cup, as his deputy.
The omission of Sunil Narine and Keiron Pollard did raise eyebrows, but still the side looks dangerous enough to take on any team. Andre Russell, who has had a great time in IPL 2019, is likely to be the key player for the side.
Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo will form the middle order. Andre Russell is back and holds the key to their success in the tournament. Ashley Nurse, Holder, Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas complete the list of bowlers in the 11.
Squad: Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Oshane Thomas, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer.
Strongest Playing 11: Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Evin Lewis, Kemar Roach, Ashley Nurse, Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell.
Mustafizur Rahman (Photo: @Mustafiz90)The side would yet again enter the World Cup with some experienced players, such as skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal. Mustafizur Rahman will be a key player for the side, while Mehidy Hasan Miraz could be the surprise element.
Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan (vc), Mohammad Mithun, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Jayed
Strongest Playing 11: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mohammad Mithun.
Rashid Khan. Photo: @ICCThe Afghanistan side could prove the joker in the pack this time, and might well stun some big names in the tournament, especially with Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi in good form. Gulbadin Naib will lead the young side and former captain Asghar Afghan's experience will come in handy.
The side will have the spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi to choke the run flow and a fine middle order in Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Afghan.
Squad: Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Strongest Playing 11: Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan
Lasith MalingaThe Sri Lanka side has been struggling for a while to find its form and match up to the levels it once had with Sangakkara and Jayawardene featuring in the team. Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews will provide some stability to the otherwise inexperienced side, but the move to appoint Dimuth Karunaratne, who has not played an ODI since 2015, the skipper may backfire. Even Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharangawere have not been picked in the squad.
Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Avishka Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeffery Vandersay, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Jeevan Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana.
Strongest Playing 11: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Avishka Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Jeevan Mendis.