For a cricket enthusiast, there is nothing better than an equal contest between bat and ball. However, not only does this require competent bowlers and batsmen but it also needs pitches that offer a bit of something to both.
Given the surfeit of T20 slogathons and 350-plus scores in ODI's in the past few years, for a change, one would want a tournament where the bowlers have an upper hand.
This might happen in this World Cup with most major teams coming in with good fast bowling sides and the pitches in Australia and New Zealand expected to favour them.
England have the ever-reliable James Anderson and Stuart Broad along with the talented Chris Woakes and the mercurial Steven Finn. James Tredwell, Moeen Ali and Ravi Bopara round off an excellent bowling attack.
South Africa has the best pace attack in the world with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel firing on all cylinders and the crafty Vernon Philander bamboozling batsmen with his seam and swing. A wicket-taking option in leg-spinner Imran Tahir adds to their balance with Kyle Abbot and Wayne Parnell waiting in the wings.
Australia has excellent pace bowling options with the razor-sharp Mitchell Johnson, and three equally fast bowlers in Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood spoiling them for choice.
Shane Watson and Mitchell Marsh provide reliable backup with Glenn Maxwell contributing with his off-spinners.
Pakistan are badly depleted by the absence of Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan but still have a good line-up with the giant Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz (remember his heroics in the 2011 semi-final?) leading the pace bowling arsenal.
The spin department is well manned by the mercurial Shahid Afridi and the steady Yasir Shah. If Mohammad Hafeez is allowed to bowl his off-spinners, that will be a huge boost to this attack.
Now let us come to the dark horses. New Zealand in Tim Southee and Trent Boult has the best opening pair of the tournament. The other options include Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan, Corey Anderson, Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum. Added to this, they have the opportunity to unleash Adam Milne, a genuine quick bowler as and when required.
The wily Nuwan Kulasekara, Angelo Mathews, Dhammika Prasad, Thisara Perera and the clever Rangana Herath make up a workmanlike Sri Lankan bowling attack. If Lasith Malinga can recover even a bit of his old potency, that would be enough to add the wicket-taking edge to this side.
The Indians and West Indies have relatively poorer attacks but even they can do well if they are disciplined on these helpful wickets.
Among the minnows, Afghanistan has a fast bowling attack capable of delivering a few surprises. Ireland, as always, will look to punch above their weight despite the absence of Boyd Rankin and Trent Johnston. Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will look to be steady and stick to the basics.
With five genuinely good attacks and helpful pitches, this promises to be a tournament where the batsmen will have a tough time.
The two new balls at both ends and the enhanced field restrictions might also force captains to attack a little more.
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