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CWC Power Rankings: India flex their muscles

Newshub logoNewshub 5 days ago Brad Lewis
Lockie Ferguson holding a baseball bat: Jason Roy, Steve Smith, Lockie Ferguson and Virat Kohli. © Images: Getty; Video: Newshub. Jason Roy, Steve Smith, Lockie Ferguson and Virat Kohli.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

OPINION: An undefeated start for the Blackcaps has them well placed with heavyweight opposition to come, but they haven't been entirely convincing.

There are concerns over the opening batting slot, with both Colin Munro and Martin Guptill struggling since the Sri Lankan walkover.

And despite inevitable runs coming from the bats of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, there are still many questions surrounding the balance of the side.

Where does Henry Nicholls slot into the batting order? Should spinner Ish Sodhi play?

Should Tom Latham play as a batsman only? Are we one all-rounder too heavy?

Does Tom Southee replace Matt Henry?

Those questions will be answered in the coming week, with key games against India and South Africa, and by this time next week, the Blackcaps could be semi-final bound.

India have been hugely impressive in two clinical displays. They dominated the disappointing South Africans, then put Australia firmly in their place, easing to a 36-run-win.

In Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Jasprit Bumrah, they have the best players in the world in their positions, while Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya  and Shikar Dhawan all possess match-winning ability that has already been on show.

New Zealand will do well to run them close on Thursday morning (NZT).

England are still favourites, given their batting prowess at the top, in the middle and at the bottom of their order. There is no total they wouldn't back themselves to chase and in Jos Buttler, they have the best finisher in world cricket.

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They will be sweating on his hip injury suffered in the demolition of Bangladesh, but they have a fairly favourable draw this week, so that should allow some breathing room.

Australia have been a bit shaky. They were saved by Nathan Coulter-Nile  and a West Indian batting brain fade in their second game, which was followed by the loss to India, where their weaknesses were exposed.

If you can get at Mitch Starc and prevent Pat Cummins from claiming early wickets, they don't offer much resistance with the ball.

The Kookaburra ball seems to have stopped swinging just a week in, so Starc becomes nothing more than a left-arm quick. He was hammered by the Indians and that will have dented his confidence.

Outside Steve Smith, their batting is brittle and lacks consistency. David Warner looks to be battling with batting responsibility and his natural game, while the likes of Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Glen Maxwell have flattered to deceive.

They are beatable, but they can also beat any opposition, if one or two players back up Smith.

As for the rest, the West Indies and Pakistan remain the serious threats to New Zealand's semi-final plans. The 'Windies' look to have one of the best quick-bowling attacks at the tournament and their batting power is scary.

Pakistan have match-winners, but they are incredibly inconsistent. To go from being walloped by the West Indies to outlasting the tournament favourites in their own backyard shows how volatile this Pakistan side are.

South Africa are a loss away from elimination, while Bangladesh remain a threat to the semi-final chasing sides.

Sri Lanka are a non-factor, although they have picked up valuable points thanks to rain and while Afghanistan have been underwhelming, they still have the potential to cause a cricketing boilover.

Cricket World Cup Power Rankings: 

1.    India (+6)

Scary good, both with ball and bat. If one of their top four scores big, they will be tough to beat.

2.    England (+2)

No score is too big for them, but Joss Buttler's injury is worrying. They have a tough run home, so they must avoid a loss this week.

3.    New Zealand (-)

Don't be deceived by their perfect record, they have some serious opposition coming. They need to figure out their best-balanced side and drop an all-rounder.

4.    Australia (-2)

Given a reality check by India and their batting has a soft underbelly. Starc needs to fire or they won't be a factor.

5.    West Indies (-4)

Were well on top of South Africa when the rain came. Face a huge game against England on Friday night that should show their true tournament credentials.

6.    Pakistan (-1)

Massive game against India awaits on Sunday night. If they can beat their Asian rivals, we could be in for a repeat of 1992.

7.    Bangladesh (-1)

Gave up too many runs against England, but they do have a very talented top six. New Zealand dodged a huge bullet.

8.    Sri Lanka (+1)

Is there a less interesting team at the tournament? In saying, that they could certainly ruffle the feathers of the heavyweights, if Angelo Mathews can score runs.

9.    South Africa (-1)

What a fall from grace. News this week, they turned down the return of AB de Villiers - a guy who could have made a massive difference, one loss from elimination.

10.    Afghanistan (-)

New Zealand will be delighted to have them in the rearview mirror. They could still be a factor against the top sides, if they can score enough runs.

Join us for live updates from 9:30pm Thursday as the Blackcaps take on India.

Brad Lewis is an Newshub online sports producer.

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