The greatest competition in cricket is set to take place over this October and November. The main talking points surround whether England can secure back-to-back successes, or if India will dominate on home soil, just as they did twelve years ago.
Australia is also unsurprisingly seen as a strong competitor – they are the record champions with five triumphs, after all.
But besides the heavyweights, there are many great teams competing at the World Cup this year. Several teams have the potential to surprise and potentially claim the ultimate cricketing glory in the Indian sub-continent. Here is a look at them.
Pakistan are arguably the strongest nation outside of the big three that could have a genuine shot at becoming the world champions in November.
They undoubtedly have a huge amount of quality, but they are famous for being extremely unpredictable on the grandest stage.
Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, but have not managed to replicate that success since. In the past five tournaments, they have failed to advance from the groups on three occasions. In the cricket World Cup winner odds for this time around, they are seen as +700 slight outsiders to add to their glory of more than three decades ago.
Perhaps 2023 could represent another short peak for Pakistan. They have one of the leading batsmen in the world at present in Babar Azam- he scored 90 off 59 against Australia in the warm ups, and he will be key to their chances of chasing high scores in the subcontinent along with the likes of Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman.
Pakistan also has an excellent range of fast bowlers led by the vastly experienced Haris Rauf and rising star Shaheen Shah Afridi. Their roster is simply not lacking in any area, it is just a question of whether they can squash the demons of the past and finally become more than nearly men on the biggest platform.
Winning on the territory of their fierce rivals in India would be remarkable and it is perhaps the biggest story possible of any of the realistic winners of the World Cup this year. Pakistan are second-placed in the world rankings and are strong favourites to at least make a run to the semi-finals.
South Africa does not have the historical pedigree of having won the tournament in the past. But they also have a strong shout at being the surprise package of the 2023 World Cup.
The Proteas certainly offer the strongest chance of a new winner emerging from this year’s competition. It would be extraordinary for the sport in general if first-time winners could be crowned for two consecutive tournaments, following England’s 2019 victory at Lords.
Considering South Africa has been an immensely strong outfit throughout the history of the ICC World Cup, it is mystifying that they have not ever reached a final. But perhaps this year they could halt the India vs England narrative to do just that.
The South Africans have an excellent batting team consisting of the likes of Heinrich Klaasen – who has an impressive strike rate of 111.6 in One Day Internationals since 2018, and David Miller, one of the few players to average over 40 and strike at over 100 in this format.
Kagiso Rabada is a top-level fast-bowler that South Africa has in their arsenal too. He too experience in delivering quality performances in India from playing in the Indian Premier League for the Punjab Kings and the Delhi Daredevils. Anrich Nortje will be missed, but the likes of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi could have a big say in spinning conditions.
Finalists at the last two World Cups and semi-finalists back in 2011, this is probably the last chance for New Zealand’s golden generation to win some much needed silverware.
A lot will hinge on Kane Williamson’s form- the skipper is returning from a knee injury sustained in the IPL, and will sit out their opener against England.
Their recent results haven’t been great, but the Kiwis often tend to fly under the radar and tend to come good at major tournaments.
Pakistan and South Africa are two nations that boast an extensive range of cricketing talent at present. They perhaps lack the level of historical success and hype in the present that the top nations possess. But the pair, along with New Zealand, ultimately offer the greatest hope of a significant upset victory in India over the next couple of months.