Who will win the 2023 Cricket World Cup?

India, Australia, England, and South Africa emerge as the leading contenders to clinch the 2023 Men's Cricket World Cup. The top-ranked ICC ODI team, India, stands out as a clear favourite.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip Mohanty

Last Updated: 2023-10-02

Team's strengths and weaknesses

In the exciting world of international cricket, the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup is on the horizon. The 2023 Men's Cricket World Cup is starting on 5th October 2023. India will host the tournament comprising of 10 teams. India, Australia, England, and South Africa emerge as the leading contenders to clinch the 2023 Men's Cricket World Cup. The top-ranked ICC ODI team, India, stands out as a clear favourite.

We are here to explore each team's strengths and weaknesses, uncovering their unique stories and strategies. This analysis reveals where these teams might finish in the tournament, making predictions about their fortunes on the global stage. So, let's dive in and discover what each team brings to the table in this thrilling cricketing event.

India | ICC Team Rank - 1 | Captain - Rohit Sharma

As the world's number one ranked ODI team, India enters the competition as one of the strongest contenders. Hosting the tournament on their home turf gives the Indian team a distinct advantage.

The team has addressed most of its concerns with the return of senior players. However, one area of concern for India at the moment is their bowling performance during the death overs. Leading the bowling attack is the experienced Jasprit Bumrah, supported by the likes of Mohammad Siraj and Mohammed Shami. Siraj has been outstanding in the first 10 overs, consistently taking wickets. Although Bumrah's return should bolster the death bowling, recent encounters, including those in the Asia Cup and the home series against Australia, have not reflected this improvement.

Bowling Strike Rate in the Powerplay (11-10 Overs), ODIs Since 2022


During the first powerplay, India boasts the best strike rate among all World Cup participating nations, with a wicket falling every 31.9 balls. Spinners like Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, and seamer Shardul Thakur excel in the middle overs, making India the most effective bowling unit in that phase, with a superb strike rate of 29.9. However, at the death, India has the worst strike rate, with a wicket falling every 21 deliveries since January 2022.

The batting unit has shown significant improvement, with almost all the batsmen contributing. Three players are in contention for the opening slot, with Shubman Gill partnering captain Rohit Sharma. Left-handed batsman Ishan Kishan can play either at the top or in the middle order. India's most experienced player and former World Cup winner, Virat Kohli, has also regained his form, along with KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, and Hardik Pandya, who will all feature in the middle order.

The top order is scoring runs at an impressive rate. Gill, in particular, has scored the most ODI runs globally since January 2022 and has formed a stable opening partnership with Rohit. Kohli's recent partnership with Rohit against Australia was a treat to watch. The Indian openers boast the best batting average in the world (49.4), with the top three contributing significantly, averaging 47.6 runs per wicket, just behind Pakistan.

The unsettled middle order has been India's Achilles' heel since 2022. However, with the return of KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Hardik Pandya, India aims to find a solution during the World Cup. The middle order has averaged 33.4 runs per wicket compared to South Africa's 47 runs since 2022. India's batting heavily relies on the top three, and early dismissals could test the middle-order resilience. Teams like New Zealand, England, and South Africa pose a challenge to India's top order and could create difficulties for the Indian side.
**_Best Performances: Winner 1983, 2011 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Semi-Final_**


2. Australia | ICC Team Rank – 3 | Captain – Pat Cummins

Australia, the five-time World champions, consistently emerge as strong contenders for the cup and are once again favourites in the 2023 Men's Cricket World Cup. Led by pace bowler Pat Cummins, Australia boasts a balanced squad comprising both youthful talent and experienced campaigners.

Since January 2022, Australia's opening combination has been impressive, accumulating runs at an average of 40.52. The relatively new pairing of David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, with just three matches together, has already made a significant impact. Meanwhile, the partnership of Travis Head and Warner has been remarkable, amassing 654 runs at an astonishing average of 93.42 during the same period. Steven Smith, holding the number 3 position, adds stability to the top order.

However, Australia's middle order (batting positions 4 to 7) appears vulnerable, with the average dropping to 29.2 since 2022. Despite the potential of Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis, and Glenn Maxwell to be game-changers, inconsistency has plagued the Australian middle order, with none of these batters averaging more than 40 since 2022.

Middle Order (Position 4-7) Batting, ODIs since 2022


Australia's bowling attack boasts big names, but their recent performance has been less than stellar. They have struggled to take early wickets and experimented with various bowling combinations. The bowling strike rate in the first powerplay is 42, ranked 7th among the participating teams, improving to 39 in the middle overs, but declining to 16 in the death overs. Despite their reputation, the famed Australia bowling attack does not rank among the top three in any phase of the game among all World Cup participating nations.

The inclusion of the fully fit and experienced Mitchell Starc is expected to bolster Australia's bowling department. Adam Zampa plays a crucial role during the middle phase and the slog overs. Given Australia's players' renowned big-match temperament, senior bowlers, including the skipper, are anticipated to step up and deliver a stronger performance.
**_Best Performances: Winners 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015 | 2023 World Cup Prediction: Semi-Final_**

3. England | ICC Team Rank – 5 | Captain – Jos Buttler

As the defending champions, England boasts one of the most formidable batting line-ups, featuring a multitude of versatile batters capable of adapting to any situation. Their flexibility and adaptability extend to the depth of their batting order, allowing them to chase substantial totals effectively and post imposing scores. Notably, England holds the records for the top three ODI scores, with the highest, 498/4, achieved against the Netherlands last year.

England's greatest strength currently resides in their middle order. Test captain Ben Stokes has emerged from ODI retirement to participate in the World Cup, amassing 288 runs at number 4 with an impressive average of 41.14 and a strike rate of 108 since 2022. During this period, England's number 4 batters have averaged 46.2, second only to South Africa's 47.3. England also boasts the highest scoring rate in the middle overs worldwide, second only to South Africa when it comes to the death overs.


Number 4 Batter Batting Average, ODIs since 2022


In Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, England possesses a quality spin attack complemented by a solid pace bowling lineup featuring talents like Chris Woakes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood, David Willey, and more. The team boasts at least six all-round options, including Liam Livingstone, who provides a mix of leg breaks and off-breaks according to the match situation.

Despite a commendable performance in the first powerplay, England's bowlers face challenges in the middle and end overs. Since 2022, their pace attack has taken wickets every 36.2 balls, a performance slightly better than Australia and Afghanistan, yet superior to the lowest-ranked Netherlands among the participating teams. However, their strike rate in the middle and death overs ranks 8th and 6th, respectively, among all participating nations.


Bowling Strike Rate by Pacers, ODIs since 2022


With strong showings just before the World Cup, the defending champions appear to be in excellent form, despite the less favorable bowling statistics. Their aggressive style of play positions England as another formidable team to watch in this edition of the World Cup.
**_Best Performance: Winners 2019 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Semi-Final_**


4. South Africa | ICC Team Rank – 4 | Captain – Temba Bavuma

The Proteas have an impressive track record during the group stages of World Cups but often struggle in the crucial knockout stages. Under the leadership of Temba Bavuma, the team has won 13 out of 25 matches and recently mounted a remarkable comeback against Australia, defeating them 3-2 after initially trailing 2-0 in the series. 


Number 4 Batters Average & Strike Rate, ODIs since 2022


South Africa's batting unit (position 1-7) has the best batting average among all participating nations since 2022. A significant positive for the South African side is their consistently run-scoring batters are currently in red-hot form. The South African middle order stands out with the best average (47) among all nine teams, scoring at an impressive rate of 6.7 runs per over, topping the charts with a strike rate of 112. Among batters batting at number 4 position and scoring minimum 300 runs since 2022, four South Africa batters are in the top league with a batting average more than 45 and strike rate above 99. Notably, Aiden Markram is the world's best number 4 batter since 2022, elevating the team's average at that position to 47.3, once again the best in the world.

Despite the batting strengths, there are a few weaknesses in the bowling attack. Anrich Nortje's absence due to injury is a significant blow, and the leader of the pack, Kagiso Rabada, hasn't been at his best with the white ball in hand. In the absence of a quality attacking spinner, the Proteas rely on the pair of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. A potential contribution from Aiden Markram's part-time off-breaks may also prove beneficial.

While the batsmen are performing admirably, the responsibility falls on the bowlers to consistently take wickets, especially early in the innings. They excel at this in the middle phase of an innings, taking a wicket every 34.8 balls but face challenges in striking early. Other teams, especially those with strong top orders like Pakistan, India, Australia, and England, can test South Africa's bowling attack.
**_Best Performance: Semi-finalists 1992, 1999, 2007, 2015 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Semi-Final_**


5. Pakistan | ICC Team Rank – 2 | Captain – Babar Azam

Another formidable side hailing from Asia, Pakistan possesses home conditions similar to those of India, which should make them comfortable in the tournament. Led by one of the modern era's brilliant batters – Babar Azam - Pakistan boasts a potent top order, but their young and inexperienced middle order requires more game time and partnership building skills to solidify their performance.

Pakistan's top-order batting (positions 1-3) has the best average since 2022, boasting an impressive 49.7, while scoring at a rate of 5.2 runs per over. The middle order (positions 4-7) is where Pakistan faces a significant challenge, having accumulated 2185 runs since 2022 at an average of 34.1. However, it's worth noting that this challenge is shared by other World Cup contenders, with the exception of South Africa, whose middle order boasts an average of 47.


Bowling Strike Rate in End (41-50) Overs, ODIs since 2022


Renowned for producing world-class bowlers, Pakistan's bowling unit has performed admirably in recent times, particularly in the death overs, where they have the world's best strike rate at 14.8. Leading the pack is Shaheen Afridi, who not only picks up early wickets but also excels in the death overs. However, the spin department is currently struggling, with Shadab Khan not performing at his peak. Since 2022, in 16 matches, he has only managed to take 21 wickets. Mohammad Nawaz, Salman Agha, and Iftikhar Ahmed do not present attacking or wicket-taking spin options.

Teams like South Africa, India, Australia, England, and New Zealand can pose challenges to the Pakistan team if their strong bowling attack can dismiss the top order quickly or restrict their scoring. These aforementioned teams also have robust batting orders capable of handling Pakistan's top-class seam attack.
**_Best Performance: Winners 1992 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Strong contenders for Semi-Final, Top 5_**


6. New Zealand | ICC Team Ranking – 6 | Captain – Kane Williamson/Tom Latham

New Zealand, the finalists of the dramatic 2019 World Cup, are determined to make another strong bid for the coveted trophy that has eluded them since the tournament's inception. Under the leadership of Kane Williamson, who recently returned to competitive cricket after a six-month hiatus due to a ruptured ACL, the team's focus is on his form and fitness. Tom Latham will step in as captain in Williamson's absence, a role confirmed for their opening encounter against England.

New Zealand's strength lies in their middle order, which has accumulated 3664 runs since January 2022, losing a wicket every 35.6 runs. This marks the second-highest average for a middle order after South Africa. With a blend of talented all-rounders in their lineup, New Zealand consistently finishes innings strongly, with a run rate in the death overs nearly touching 8.

The Kiwi bowling lineup is equally robust, featuring a balanced mix of spinners and pace bowling all-rounders. Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, and Rachin Ravindra are set to lead the spin attack in subcontinental conditions. The return of Trent Boult, coupled with his partnership with Tim Southee at the top, is expected to bolster their bowling numbers. Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson provide the essential pace factor, which will be crucial on flat tracks in India.

Opening Batters’ Average and Strike Rate, ODIs since 2022


However, the challenge lies in their top order. New Zealand's openers have failed to produce a single hundred-run partnership since February 2020, averaging only 33.6 runs before losing a wicket. The team has experimented with numerous combinations at the top, but success has remained elusive.
**_Best Performance: Finalists 2015, 2019 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Strong contender for Semi-Final, Top 6_**


7. Sri Lanka | ICC Team Ranking – 7 | Captain – Dasun Shanaka

Sri Lanka, winners of the 1996 World Cup and finalists in 2011 and 2015, have experienced a challenging period in ODI cricket, struggling to recover from the retirements of their legendary core players. All-rounder Dasun Shanaka has taken the helm during these difficult times and has led the team impressively, boasting the second-longest winning streak in the history of ODIs with 13 consecutive victories and dismissing their opponents on 14 consecutive occasions.

Bowling Strike Rate, ODIs since 2022


One of the positives for Sri Lanka lies in their bowling attack, particularly at the top. Their bowling unit boasts a remarkable strike rate of 28.9, which is jointly the best among participating nations since January 2022. The spin attack, led by Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana, has been prolific, taking 164 middle-order wickets at a rate of wicket every 31.4 balls. Sri Lanka's death bowling strike rate of 15 ranks among the top three in the world. They have a talented pool of fast bowlers and spinners making them a formidable challenge for any batting lineup.

Most Wickets in Middle (11-40) Overs, ODIs since 2022


However, Sri Lanka's batting has been inconsistent, particularly the opening combination. While the averages saw an upturn during the World Cup qualifiers against lower-ranked teams, the team's performance took a dip after the Asia Cup. The team initially showed promise before a disappointing performance in the final, resulting in a decline in average and strike rate throughout their batting innings.

Sri Lanka's chances of progressing in the World Cup will depend on their ability to perform cohesively as a batting unit. While there have been sporadic individual moments of brilliance, the team has been missing significant partnerships and collective batting performances.
**_Best Performance: Champions 1996 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Group Stage_**


8. Bangladesh | ICC Team Ranking – 8 | Captain – Shakib Al Hasan

Bangladesh has enjoyed a positive run of form since their exit from the 2019 World Cup, securing direct qualification for the 2023 World Cup. On the field, their performances have improved in the new cycle, but off the field, various events have the potential to affect the team's morale and performance if they linger in the players' minds.

Remarkably, for the first time in Bangladesh cricket history, their bowling unit appears stronger than their batting. The Tigers have assembled a remarkable pool of both fast bowlers and spinners. Their new ball bowlers boast the second-best strike rate at 34.6 since January 2022, and their strike rate of 14.9 in the death overs is only surpassed by Pakistan's 14.8.

Most Wickets in Powerplay (1-10 Overs), ODIs since 2022


Bangladesh batting has been the weak link due to inconsistent performances. While there have been sporadic contributions, the team has struggled to build partnerships, a longstanding issue for Bangladesh. The squad includes experienced players such as skipper Shakib Al Hasan, Litton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah, who need to step up and lead the team, as this World Cup could potentially be one last opportunity for them to shine on the global stage.

While teams like India, Australia, England, and South Africa have been performing cohesively around the World Cup, Bangladesh may not be the first-choice pick for a semi-finalist. However, they have the potential to make a significant impact in the tournament and upset some top teams. Bangladesh is more than capable of outperforming any team on their day, and Shakib and his team hope for at least 7 or 8 such days in the upcoming event.
**_Best Performances – Quarter-finals in 2015 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Group Stage_**


9. Afghanistan | ICC Team Ranking – 9 | Captain – Hashmatullah Shahidi

One of the most improved teams in recent times, the Afghanistan possesses the potential to cause upsets and disrupt the journey of any team in the upcoming 50-over World Cup. This Afghanistan’s third appearance in the tournament.

Afghanistan's top order is in superb form, with the openers contributing an impressive average of 43.6 runs per inning. The top three batters have averaged 40 since January 2022. However, the team heavily relies on these top three batters, as the averages drop significantly beyond them. Afghanistan has showcased their fighting spirit over the years. A miscalculation in an Asia Cup 2023 encounter against Sri Lanka cost them a chance to progress to the next stage. Nevertheless, the team has produced extraordinary performances on various occasions.

The spin department, featuring players like Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Fazalhaq Farooqi, has gained valuable experience playing around the world and will play a crucial role in Indian conditions. They recently displayed their form and resilience against Pakistan and Sri Lanka prior to the Asia Cup. Afghanistan's spinners possess the ability to stifle run flow, which will be vital when defending a total.


Spin Bowling Economy Rate, ODIs since 2022


Afghanistan's weak link lies in their lack of batting experience and partnership building in the middle overs. Their success greatly hinges on the top order's ability to make a strong start, with one of the top three batters ideally staying at the crease until the death overs. The top three batters have averaged 40 since January 2022, whereas the middle order (positions 4-7) averages just 26.1, the lowest among participating nations.
**_Best Performances: 1 win in 2015 World Cup | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Group Stage_**


10. Netherlands | ICC Team Ranking – 14 | Captain – Scott Edwards

Netherlands had only managed to secure a single one-day international victory since January 2022 until they entered the ICC World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe. Then came the remarkable turnaround, as they won five games, defeating higher-ranked teams like West Indies and Scotland, securing their spot in the 2023 World Cup. This marks the fourth time that the Dutch team will participate in a World Cup and their first appearance since 2011.

The selectors have assembled a formidable squad, featuring experienced players. Their opening combination boasts a better batting average since January 2022 compared to New Zealand and Bangladesh. The middle order averages 29, surpassing Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and even strong contenders like Australia, who averaged a mere 28.4 during this period.

Batting all-rounder Bas de Leede, who bats at number 4, averages 34.82 in 18 innings, including a century, making Netherlands' average at that position superior to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Australia. As the only associate member to participate in this World Cup, Netherlands has the fifth-best strike rate in the first powerplay with the bat. However, most of these performances were against other associate nations.

The challenges arise in the lower middle order. The batting order as a whole struggles to establish partnerships and has an average just over 30, which is the lowest among participating nations. The batters require more exposure to handle pressure and increase the scoring rate during the middle phase, as their strike rate of 80.6 in that stage is the lowest. In the death overs, their strike rate of 116.5 is only better than Afghanistan's.

The bowling lineup includes some significant names, including the experienced Roelof van der Merwe, who has previously played for South Africa and will be making his 50-over World Cup debut at the age of 38. However, Dutch bowlers have struggled to pick up early wickets, with the exception of the World Cup qualifier. Fred Klaassen has effectively utilized his county cricket experience to take early wickets, exploiting movement in the ball. However, it will be the spin department that needs to shine in Indian conditions.

With the form the team is carrying from the World Cup qualifier, they have the potential to challenge other teams with some exceptional performances. Ryan ten Doeschate made history with his century in the previous World Cup, and now it's time for the next generation to etch their names in the history books as well.
**_Best Performances: 1 win in 2007, 1 win in 2011 | 2023 World Cup Prediction – Group Stage_**


The Verdict

As the world eagerly awaits the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup, the likes of India, Australia, England, and South Africa enter with sky-high expectations, ready to battle for cricketing supremacy. Yet, in this high-stakes arena, keep an eye on the enigmatic Pakistan and the underdog spirit of New Zealand, known to punch above their weight on the grandest stages. The stage is set, the contenders are primed, and the drama is about to unfold in a cricketing spectacle like no other.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip MohantySports Editor

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.