One of the biggest shocks in World Cup history came in 1983 when India defied all expectations to lift the trophy after overwhelming the mighty West Indies in a gripping final at Lord’s.

While England, India and Australia, the Big Three in world cricket, have the strongest teams in this edition of the World Cup, but only the foolish fan would write off some of the other teams in the fray.

Given the unpredictable nature of the game, these teams can beat any side on their day.

Here we look at three dark horses who we think can pull off the impossible.


It’s been 31 years since Pakistan last laid their hands on the trophy, although they narrowly missed the chance in 1999 when they lost to Australia in the final.

They may not have had the perfect preparation with a poor run in the recent Asia Cup, but it would be foolish to write off Babar Azam’s Men in Green, who are renowned for the fighting spirit that they bring to each match.

When the dice rolls in their favour they are one of the most exciting sides to watch and have a reputation for delivering when least expected, like Imran Khan’s squad did in 1992.

Although exciting young pacer Naseem Shah is sure to be missed, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf are sure to step up to the plate and bowl their hearts out.

On the batting front, Babar is their tower of strength but should Mohammed Rizwan, Imam-ul-Haq and the classy Abdullah Shafique fire, they will pose a big threat.


Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim.

ODI ranking: 2

World Cup record: One title (1992)

New Zealand

The Kiwis are one of the most consistent one-day sides in the world but have fallen short of winning an ICC trophy in three finals.

In 2019, Kane Williamson’s men suffered a controversial super-over defeat to England, and the Black Caps will have revenge on their minds when they take them on in their opening match of the World Cup in Ahmedabad on October 5.

Currently sixth in the ICC ODI rankings, the Kiwis bring a balanced squad comprising an exciting mix of players like Devon Conway, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Williamson.

New Zealand also boast a balanced bowling attack of pacers Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Boult and Southee and the spin duo of Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi.

The Kiwis reached the semifinals in 2011 when the World Cup was hosted in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

It's a team that always punch above their weight in ICC events.


Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.

ODI ranking: 6

World Cup record: Two-time runners-up (2015, 2019)

South Africa

Strange as it may seem, South Africa has never qualified for a World Cup final, something they will hope to address with a side that comprises veterans and newcomers.

Frontline players like Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Aiden Markram have experience on Indian tracks having played in the IPL.

Skipper Temba Bavuma, Gerald Coetzee and Keshav Maharaj will have exchanged notes on how to master the dry, flat tracks they are going to encounter over the next one and a half months.

The side must first bury the ghosts of 2019, where they finished seventh in the league stage, if they hope to give a true account of themselves.

For sure they will play six batters, four bowlers and a wicketkeeper and rely on all-rounders like Markam in times of trouble.

But they will be depending a lot on their battery of fast bowlers including Rabada, Ngidi and Marco Jansen to give them the edge.

The rousing 3-2 win over Australia in the recent ODI series despite losing the first two matches will give them great confidence.


Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.

ODI ranking: 4

World Cup record: Semifinalists in 1992, 1999, 2007, 2015

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