After six weeks of wickets, whacks and willow, the tournament will finish with a final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 29. Here are some things to watch:
In the end, Michael Clarke, pictured, had the big decision made for him. Medical and coaching staff decided the
"He’s very keen to play. But we've got to make sure when he gets back he's ready to go and he will be come Saturday week," Lehmann said. "He’s respectful of what we're trying to do to get him right."
Missing a captain of Clarke’s caliber would usually be a major setback for a team like
The great Sachin Tendulkar, pictured, recalled a 2003 World Cup match against
"The nation would brook no failure and for many of our fans this was the true final," he wrote. "It really did not matter to them what happened in the rest of the tournament."
Expect the stakes to be just as high, or higher, on Sunday when the archrivals meet in
New Zealand has reached the World Cup semifinals six times, including on home soil in 1992, but has never gone on to the final. Some senior players feel that might change this time.
"My previous four World Cups there has been some trepidation moving into it but this one feels like a good solid squad that is ready," 36-year-old Daniel Vettori said. "Rather than stumbling into a World Cup like we may have done in the past, we can go into it with all our bases covered and everybody firing."
The bowling group is tight, and there are power hitters throughout the batting order, starting with skipper Brendon McCullum at the top.
“The guys we have in this squad are very humble and very level in their emotions and that helps you to deal with those expectations and some of the pressures that come on,” McCullum said. “That’s what this World Cup is going to require, and I believe we’ve got the men to do it.”
Blowing in the Windies
The West Indies won the first two World Cup tournaments in 1975 and '79 before things starting to turn against the Caribbean team in the 1983 final, which
The West Indies didn't reach the semifinals in '87 or '92 but somehow, after capitulating in a shocking 73-run loss to the amateurs from
There are no great expectations for 2015. The squad was thrown into turmoil with the ill-judged walkout from a tour of
"We are still a bunch of confident guys," veteran Darren Sammy said in
Jason Holder, pictured, was made captain - at age 23 - and will have to mature quickly to have any chance of marshaling the squad which crashed to a nine-wicket loss to
The Afghan national team started almost from scratch a little over a decade ago, and had its first forays in international competition in 2008 in the fifth division World Cricket League. Mohammad Nabi, pictured, and his teammates will debut in the World Cup next Wednesday against
Nabi is aiming for some wins over the lower-ranked teams and a possible spot in the quarterfinals. "If we beat
Coach Andy Moles said achieving a quarterfinal spot - meaning at least a fourth-place finishing in the seven-team Pool A - "would be like winning the World Cup."
The Afghanis got a reality check in a warmup match, taking early wickets to have India in trouble at 16-2 before Rohit Sharma put on 150 runs to propel the defending champions to an eventual 153-run win.