We’ve already reviewed (in parts 1 and 2) the top eight teams in the competition. What makes the World Cup so fun (or monumentally boring and drawn-out, depending on your perspective) is the presence of, in the 2015 version, six second-tier teams who could provide an upset or two. I (Martin) have to confess not knowing much about these squads, except to tell you that they have almost zero chance of winning the World Cup. But here goes.
Bangladesh should be much further along in their development as a top-tier nation than they are. Consistency is a problem here, despite having some genuine talent in the explosive opening batsman Tamim Iqbal and the all-rounder Shakib al Hasan. This team should beat Afghanistan and Scotland; but I can’t see them winning against the other members of their group to proceed to the next round.
Once the best team in the world, Zimbabwe are challenged by a lack of resources and instability. Nonetheless, in Brendan Taylor and the reliable Prosper Utseya they have dedicated professionals who’ll, with the rest of the team, put up a fight. I would expect them to beat Bangladesh, but that, unfortunately, is not saying much.
Seemingly on an unstoppable rise (and the subject of an inspiring documentary film), Afghanistan are the highest ranking non-Test playing nation, and now need to outperform a major side if they’re to take it to the next level. They’re in a tough group, however, and apart from beating Scotland (which they should) and Bangladesh (which they might), they need to beat someone like England (unlikely) or Sri Lanka (also unlikely) to make an impression.
Giant-slayers on their day, Ireland could beat West Indies and Pakistan as well as the United Arab Emirates, and make it through to the next round. I expect big things from William Porterfield and Ed Joyce and the mighty O’Brien brothers present a formidable duo. Surely the tournament favorites to cause a major upset.
Scotland and the United Arab Emirates
I have nothing to say about these teams. I’m prepared to be amazed and astounded and to learn of new superstars. I’m not holding my breath, however. I expect the other teams to set some records when they play them.