Potential Underdogs for the 2023 ICC World Cup

The hosts India will surely be one of the favourites to win the 2023 ICC World Cup on their home soil.
Potential Underdogs for the 2023 ICC World Cup

After quite a bit of uncertainty, the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup is almost here. Back in 2020, the event was pushed from spring to fall in order to allow for qualifying events to be rescheduled. However, another issue arose between India and Pakistan for this summer's 2023 Asia Cup, hinting that the World Cup might face further challenges.

However, Sri Lanka stepped in to help host the event—and India swept the tournament to take home yet another Asia Cup championship title. With the World Cup tournament set to start on October 5 2023 with a faceoff between England and New Zealand, global sporting headlines are focused on the potential for India to take a win on their home turf—during the first time the country is hosting the event solo.

In other words, this 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup has already generated tons of intrigue and excitement. The current cricket World Cup betting hype is overwhelmingly focused on India, the favourite, and England, the runner-up. At the bottom of the pack are the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan. Though neither national team is expected to battle their way to the top during the tournament, thousands are already geared up for the India-Pakistan game.

Some of them even have their eye on the underdog, Pakistan, to break ahead of the competition. Could they be a potential underdog champion later this year? And which other teams are promising dark horses? Let's explore.

All Signs Point to India

Image: GQ India

All signs point to India taking home a victory this year. The team has had a full calendar scheduled with ODI matches, having played 18—which doesn't count the recent Asia Cup. The team may have a roster of ageing stars, but they seem to have hit their stride after plenty of practice this year.

Many are focused on the team's performance at the recent Asia Cup. The team lost out to Bangladesh during the Super Four game—which is a significant upset that makes Bangladesh an underdog to keep an eye on. However, if there's one thing that pundits and fans are focusing on to push India through to the Finals, it's home-field advantage. In fact, the last three World Cup champions have all won as hosts.

Major Potential for Pakistan

India may be the general favourite heading into the World Cup, but Pakistan is close behind. Most sportsbooks list Australia and England above Pakistan… but those odds don't account for the huge rivalry between India and Pakistan. In other words, if there's one team motivated to prevent India from taking home a win on their own home turf, it's Pakistan.

First and foremost, the Pakistani team has plenty of star power, including powerful leaders like Babar Azam. The team is especially gifted at turning a pace attack, which could prove fatal for their competitors. However, they'll have to battle through matches where local fans will be happy to cheer on their demise as India's major rival.

Sri Lanka: Eager for a Second Title

Sri Lanka hasn't performed to its greatest ability since it took home 1996's World Cup title… but that doesn't mean they aren't an underdog to watch this year. In fact, Sri Lanka became the first team that officially qualified for the World Cup. A solid line of bowlers (including Madushanka) and a similarly strong lineup of batters, such as Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva are working in their favour.

Afghanistan: Hungry for a First

Similar to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan has been popping up on some analyst's lists as an underdog to watch. As a national team that still hasn't lifted a championship trophy, the team is plenty motivated to make their time in India count. But on their side is a list of strong competitors with plenty of experience. Rashid Khan, for example, is easily one of the top spin bowlers in the game. Other players, like Rahmanullah Gurbaz, are at the top of their game and prepared to make their mark in this tournament.

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