The cricket World Cup has over the years given us some nail-biting, edge of the seat thrillers that would make the best Hollywood director envious. From the Australia – South Africa tie in the 1999 World Cup Semi-final to the tie between India and England in the 2011 World Cup we have been witness to some truly memorable matches every World Cup. With just few days to go to for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, we bring you the five group matches that you shouldn’t miss at any cost.

Australia Vs England, 14th February:
A contest between Australia and England has always been intriguing with both teams not giving an inch on the field and the verbal spats will only keep the temperatures rising as emotions take centre stage. Australia has been on a roll in the last one year and decimated both India and England in the recent tri-series. That said, when the two Ashes rivals roll-up their sleeves and have a go at each other at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in the opening match of the World Cup it could be a totally different ball game.
Battles to watch out for:
James Anderson Vs Warner: While Anderson might not get the same kind movement as he is used to getting in England, but there would be enough with the new ball to make it talk in the first couple of overs. With the change of rules and usage of two new balls from both ends, it will only work in Anderson’s favour. That said, Warner has been in solid form and will not shy away from the challenge and might take Anderson on in the early overs to upset his length and rhythm.

Sri Lanka Vs New Zealand, 14th February:
Having got a look at each other before their showdown in Hagley Park in the opening encounter of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, both the teams will be looking to plug their loopholes. New Zealand has been on a winning spree lately but with Sri Lanka likely to get back the services of Lasith Malinga, can prove to be a much tougher opposition. The Kiwis will be raring to play in front of the home crowd in a World Cup match after two decades and the match has all the ingredients to give the World Cup just the right kind of start!
Battles to watch out for:
Mitchell McClenaghan vs Kumar Sangakkara: McCleneghan has come of age as a bowler and has the ability to bowl a heavy ball which can surprise batsmen. Kumar Sangakkara is possibly playing his best cricket at the moment and having scored more than 1,000 runs in the last calendar year, it will be a real challenge for any bowler to get this prized scalp. Sri Lankan batting with Sanga out early is brittle; McClenaghan will try his utmost to expose that. Fascinating contest in store!

India Vs Pakistan, 15th February:
The mother of all matches and probably the most anticipated cricket match on the entire planet, there is enough drama that is in store for us, both on and off the field when India takes on Pakistan. Indians have so far maintained a clean-sheet against their arch-rivals in the World Cup and Pakistan would be looking to get that equation in their favour once the two teams get ready to lock horns at the Adelaide Oval.
Battles to watch out for:
Virat Kohli vs Pakistani seamers: Virat Kohli has already established himself as a legend of the limited overs game and whether or not the Indian vice-captain is having a good day it is difficult to keep him out of action for too long. The likes of Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz will be gearing up to bowl Kohli out knowing full well how integral he is to India’s plans of either creating a formidable total or chasing one down.

India Vs South Africa, 22nd February:
The defending champions will be looking to get the better of a team which has always been a hurdle for them in the past. The South Africans with the likes of AB de Villiers, Faf fu Plessis and Dale Steyn are one of the top contenders to lift the trophy and India with their strong batting line-up will look to maintain their reputation in the shorter format of the game. The MCG will provide the ideal venue to see Dale Steyn steaming in and Virat Kohli fighting fire with fire.
Battles to watch out for:
Dale Steyn Vs Rohit Sharma: So far Dale Steyn has got the better off Rohit Sharma in most occasions; throw in the fast, bouncy pitches of Australia and New Zealand and it does not make thing any easier for Rohit. But the Indian opener, whose immentse talent is universally acknowledged, has made a strong case for himself in the opening match of the tri-series against Australia by scoring a century. If he can get into full flow then it would lead to probably the most engaging battle of bat and bowl in the World Cup!

New Zealand Vs Australia, 28th February:
The Kiwis are more than a handful in their own den and the present team with its right mix of youth and experience coupled with exciting batsmen and genuine pacers has hit a purple patch in the last one year. Their trans-Tasman neighbours have their own set of star performers and have been in a rich vein of form. The love-hate relationship that both the countries have will lend an edge to this face-off at the Eden Park in Auckland. While Australia is one of the favourites for the title, New Zealand has always punched above their weight in such big stage events. Get ready for some exciting cricket!
Battles to watch out for:
Mitchell Johnson Vs Brendon McCullum: McCullum is a dangerous customer at the top of the order and likes the ball coming on to the bat. Mitchell Johnson has been amongst the best fast bowlers in the world for the past couple of years and will be rearing to get the danger man McCullum out of the picture as soon as possible. However, as much as pace can be intimidating, it can also act against the bowler at times and Johnson will be well aware of that fact. McCullum, given the kind of form he is in, will not mind chancing his arm against Johnson who will always come at you. This might just be the contest that can kick start the proceedings with a bang!

South Africa Vs Pakistan, 7th March:
The well-oiled Proteas juggernaut against the mercurial Pakistanis! This clash of opposites has cricket aficionados from across the world waiting with bated breath. While this Pakistani team does not have the world beaters that World Cup winning 1992 team did, they have enough firepower to beat the best on their day. South Africa will of course be under pressure to get rid of the “choker” tag that has followed them around for years now. Cricket enthusiasts at the Eden Park in Auckland will get to see one the most interesting group stage matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
Battles to watch out for:
AB de Villiers Vs Pakistani spinners: AB de Villiers is probably the best batsman in the world right now, across all formats. His 31-ball hundred has raised the bar really high in ODI cricket. Whether and how the South African captain handles the wily Pakistani spinners led by the ever youthful Shahid Afridi could prove to be the turning (no pun intended!) point of this critical group stage match.

This year when cricket’s biggest event rolls up be where the action is! Plan a trip to Australia and New Zealand with Eventraveler’s ICC World Cup page.

(Image by Iain Mullan)

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