The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup is finally here, and this year’s tournament has all the makings of a thriller.
The biggest tournament in cricket features a number of teams with a legitimate chance at winning the title, including some exciting dark horse candidates. And this year’s tournament is expected to reach its largest audience ever, with television and streaming online video covering more than 1 billion viewers.
A full preview of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, including expert picks, complete schedule and online streaming video links can be found here.
2015 ICC Cricket World Cup Expert Picks
Though India comes into the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup as defending champions, they are one of a handful of teams with a chance at taking the title, and some would argue that they even come in as underdogs.
Here is a breakdown of the teams considered favorites in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup:
The Australian squad, co-hosts of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, appear to be the far and away favorite to win the tournament. They are well accustomed to the playing conditions and have a well-balanced squad led by the strong batting of Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, and David Warner. They also have a boost from the return of regular captain Michael Clarke, who is recovered from a back injury.
Australia is also one of the hottest teams going into the tournament, losing just one of their last 13 matches.
The Indian squad won the World Cup in 2011, but comes into this tournament on a losing stretch that included a winless streak in the Tri-Series against Australia and India.
But despite the slump, India has a knack for turning up their play in ICC tournaments and is still considered a favorite.
Here is what expert Aditya Bhushan told SportsKeeda:
Given the format of the World Cup, I would say that all the top 8 Test playing nations – Australia, South Africa, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka – will make it into the quarter-finals unless we have some major upset.
Once in the quarters, it is a matter of just three good days and the World Cup trophy is yours. And I believe, India have match-winners to do well in these three matches. I would place my bet on Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni to take India home in these games.
In what may be a bit of an upset pick, many believe Pakistan has what it takes to win — strong bowling and a powerful lower order.
Expert Theviyanthan Krishnamohan pegged Pakistan to win it all, telling SportsKeeda:
Their bowling has good variety, with Yasir Shah threatening in the middle overs with his leg-breaks and Mohammad Irfan’s high projectile deliveries bound to trouble batsmen of all calibre. Pakistan’s top order is stable with Ahmed Shehzad and Younis Khan and their lower order is really dangerous with Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal. Sohaib Masqood has also looked in good knick, hence a recap of 1992 might not be far-fetched.
Though they may be considered a dark horse, New Zealand has the advantage of playing on home soil for all the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup matches, at least until the semi-final round. The team has Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum on top of their game, and the team is coming off arguably their best year in international cricket.
Complete 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup Schedule
The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup kicks off Saturday with Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the first matchup and Australia and England continuing the century-old rivalry in the second.
There are 49 matches in total, including the highly anticipated India vs. Pakistan matchup on Sunday, a match expected to draw more than one billion people watching on television.
The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup concludes in late March, with the championship match taking place March 29.
The complete 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup schedule can be found here (via PC Advisor):
Fri 13 February: 22:00 GMT Sri Lanka vs New Zealand
Sat 14 February: 03:30 GMT Australia vs England
Sun 15 February: 01:00 GMT South Africa vs Zimbabwe
Sun 15 February: 03:30 GMT India vs Pakistan
Mon 16 February: 22:00 GMT West Indies vs Ireland
Tue 17 February: 22:00 GMT New Zealand vs Scotland
Wed 18 February: 03:30 GMT Bangladesh vs Afghanistan
Thu 19 February: 22:00 GMT Zimbabwe vs United Arab Emirates
Fri 20 February: 01:00 GMT New Zealand vs England
Sat 21 February: 03:30 GMT Australia vs Bangladesh
Sat 21 February: 22:00 GMT Pakistan vs West Indies
Sun 22 February: 03:30 GMT India vs South Africa
Sun 22 February: 22:00 GMT Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan
Mon 23 February: 22:00 GMT England vs Scotland
Tue 24 February: 03:30 GMT West Indies vs Zimbabwe
Wed 25 February: 03:30 GMT Ireland vs United Arab Emirates
Thu 26 February: 03:30 GMT Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh
Thu 26 February: 22:00 GMT Afghanistan vs Scotland
Fri 27 February: 03:30 GMT South Africa vs West Indies
Sat 28 February: 01:00 GMT New Zealand vs Australia
Sat 28 February: 06:30 GMT India vs United Arab Emirates
Sun 01 March: 03:30 GMT Pakistan vs Zimbabwe
Sun 01 March: 22:00 GMT England vs Sri Lanka
Tue 03 March: 03:30 GMT South Africa vs Ireland
Wed 04 March: 01:00 GMT Pakistan vs United Arab Emirates
Wed 04 March: 06:30 GMT Australia vs Afghanistan
Thu 05 March: 22:00 GMT Bangladesh vs Scotland
Fri 06 March: 06:30 GMT India vs West Indies
Sat 07 March: 01:00 GMT Pakistan vs South Africa
Sat 07 March: 03:30 GMT Zimbabwe vs Ireland
Sun 08 March: 03:30 GMT Australia vs Sri Lanka
Sun 08 March: 22:00 GMT New Zealand vs Afghanistan
Mon 09 March: 03:30 GMT England vs Bangladesh
Tue 10 March: 01:00 GMT India vs Ireland
Wed 11 March: 03:30 GMT Sri Lanka vs Scotland
Thu 12 March: 01:00 GMT South Africa vs United Arab Emirates
Fri 13 March: 01:00 GMT New Zealand vs Bangladesh
Fri 13 March: 03:30 GMT Afghanistan vs England
Sat 14 March: 01:00 GMT India vs Zimbabwe
Sat 14 March: 03:30 GMT Australia vs Scotland
Sun 15 March: 03:30 GMT Pakistan vs Ireland
Sun 15 March: 22:00 GMT West Indies vs United Arab Emirates
Wed 18 March: 03:30 GMT Quarter Final 1
Thu 19 March: 03:30 GMT Quarter Final 2
Fri 20 March: 03:30 GMT Quarter Final 3
Sat 21 March: 01:00 GMT Quarter Final 4
Tue 24 March: 01:00 GMT Semi Final 1
Thu 26 March: 03:30 GMT Semi Final 2
Sun 29 March: 03:30 GMT Final
How To Watch 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup Live Online
Fans who want to watch the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup will have plenty of chances to do so, but finding a free (and legal) streaming video may be a bit more challenging.
There are a number of outlets around the globe picking up coverage of the World Cup matches. ESPN is offering live streaming video to all 49 matches for its customers in the United States, though it comes with a $99 fee.
Fans in Pakistan will be able to tune in to PTV Sports Online, those in the UK can watch Sky Go and cricket fans in India can tune in to Star Sports for streaming video of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
A full list of places to watch the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup live online can be found here.