Since the inaugural World Cup in 1975, when it was all about runs and wickets, the ODI format has constantly evolved. Each World Cup-winning side brought something unique to the table, and were trendsetters in the shorter format of the game.
Clive Lloyd’s world champions had an inimitable Caribbean flair, Kapil Dev’s team had intangible all-rounders, Allan Border’s outfit was tailor-made for ODIs, Imran Khan’s men were a right mix of youth and experience, Arjuna Ranatunga’s team were pioneers in ODI batting, and over the past three editions Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting’s Australia held all the aces in all the key departments.
Come April 2, a new flavour will be added to this pantheon of greats. Before that, however, his team will need to exhibit a wide array of skills that have become crucial to ODI success in this era. This World Cup will be about adapting to the conditions in the sub-continent — flat wickets, spin, pressure of chasing big totals and making maximum use of powerplays. From a strong opening salvo to tight bowling in the death, the teams that master the factors in play will emerge strongest.