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Subcontinent stars

Bob selects the power-players destined for World Cup success

Bob Willis Posted 13th February 2011 view comments

Three co-hosts, 14 teams and 42 group matches can only add up to one thing - the 10th ICC Cricket World Cup.

Over the next six weeks all eyes will be on India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as they stage a feast of 50-over action which gets underway on Saturday.

Can England - buoyed by their World Twenty20 and Ashes triumphs - stop Australia from claiming their fourth title on the trot or will one of cricket's other major powers hold sway?

Point to prove: South African paceman Dale Steyn will hope to inspire South Africa to glory

Point to prove: South African paceman Dale Steyn will hope to inspire South Africa to glory

Find out by following the tournament live on Sky Sports and skysports.com, where our pundits and in-vision commentaries will keep you abreast of every development.

As part of the build-up, we asked Bob Willis to give us the lowdown on Group A. Now he shares his thoughts on the players to watch from...

Group B

India

Run-day wonder - Mahendra Singh Dhoni: I'm a great admirer of the way he goes about his business. It may be over five years since he plundered 183no off Sri Lanka, but he remains prolific with the bat - as sharp as a rapier in the middle-order. Captaincy seems to bring the best out of him rather than be a burden and he won't be fazed by the massive expectation on his team.

Appealing - Zaheer Khan: Underrated for so many years, Zaheer is now rightly revered as one of the very best bowlers in the world. His ability to swing the old and new ball makes him a go-to bowler in any situation and only the very best batsmen will try to attack him. At 32, he will be desperate to leave his mark on this tournament after India's disappointing 2007 campaign.

Prospects: Final

South Africa

Run-day wonder - Jacques Kallis: I could have gone for any of four batsman - Amla, De Villiers, Smith or Kallis but the latter gets my vote because he is a batsman for any situation. He can accelerate, defend or consolidate depending on the situation. You give him a task to do and he can usually achieve it. He's my banker in what is a very strong outfit indeed.

Appealing - Dale Steyn: Morne Morkel is higher in the one-day world rankings, but Steyn edges it for me. He has far better control of his line and length than the Aussie quicks I've mentioned and is capable of doing some serious damage at the top of the order because he is a genuine wicket-taker who isn't afraid to mix things up.

Prospects: Champions

England

Run-day wonder - Jonathon Trott: He's the form man and in the absence of Eoin Morgan, a player who can really change matches; he has to be my choice. Trott is a little like Kallis in as much as he can adapt to different situations and it is important in 50-over cricket to have somebody who can bat for most of the innings, particularly if the top-order play shots and it doesn't come off.

Appealing - Graeme Swann: You can't look past him in most games, but particularly on the subcontinent where he should be a real threat. I fully expect him to come to the fore once more after sitting out most of the ODI series against Australia. He's a tremendously resilient cricketer who will relish the challenge that lies ahead, especially if sides try to target his bowling.

Prospects: Quarter-finals

West Indies

Run-day wonder - Chris Gayle: An undoubted match-winner on his day, Gayle is the key to the West Indies batting line-up. Sure, they have other go-to players - Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Bravo to name three - but Gayle is the man who can get them off to a flyer and if he achieves that, he is capable of batting through an innings. I don't think the captaincy bothered him that much but without the millstone of that job he should be free to enjoy himself all the more.

Appealing - Sulieman Benn: The West Indies batting is much stronger than their bowling and Benn will be a vital ingredient if they are to keep the runs down. He'll need to behave himself because he can be temperamental - he has refused to bowl on occasions - and can get het up in the middle. But I hope that he has learnt from his mistakes in that regard and puts in a performance this time.

Prospects: Group stages

Bangladesh

Run-day wonder - Tamim Iqbal: The co-hosts should prove formidable opponents on home turf, and none more so than vice-captain Tamim who continues to play his own way and so has lost none of his explosive power at the crease. You'd think someone who plays the way he does would only come off one time in 10 but his success-rate is nearer 80 percent. It's usually bowlers who change the course of cricket matches but Tamim, just like Gayle, has the ability to be a genuine match-winner with the bat.

Appealing - Shakib Al Hasan: He's Bangladesh's standout bowler for me. He's learnt a lot from having the chance to captain his country, while his spell at Worcestershire was a very important part of his development as well. He is still very young but that doesn't mean he isn't a canny operator with the ball.

Prospects: Quarter-finals

Ireland

Run-day wonder - Ed Joyce: After springing a major surprise against Pakistan in 2007, much is expected of this experienced Ireland line-up, particularly now Joyce is on board. Not many of the minnows can boast players with one-day international hundreds to their name and Ireland should do everything in their power to accommodate Joyce, whose staying power will give the others licence.

Appealing - Trent Johnston: Boyd Rankin may be around the fringes of county cricket but Johnston is the form bowler for me and, as you'd expect from someone ranked inside the World's top 20, he's a canny operator. Going on 37 he is by far the oldest player in Ireland's squad but like a fine wine he appears to be getting better with age. He became one of the faces of the last World Cup when he hit the winning runs against Pakistan.

Prospects: Group stages

Netherlands

Run-day wonder - Ryan ten Doeschate: He's the Netherlands' Eoin Morgan - a player who is an expert at finishing things down the order. We got a clear reminder of his strength and potency with the bat last season before he picked up an untimely injury and as the squad's highest-ranked bowler he will be a pivotal player in both disciplines if the Netherlands are going to win any games at all.

Appealing - Mudassar Bukhari: A hard-worker, Bukhari is something of a steadying influence in a side whose batting is stronger than its bowling. Yet to claim four victims in an innings, expect him to chip in with the odd important wicket here and there rather than run through a side. Thirty three wickets at 24.75 apiece looks a decent enough record, but the statistics show he averages a wicket-a-game against Kenya and Ireland - a figure he must improve.

Prospects: Group stages

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