Adelaide, Feb 12:
Australia will launch a campaign to win their fifth cricket World Cup title when they enter the 11th edition of the game’s pinnacle tournament as the No.1 ranked side.
The team from Down Under will feature on the opening day Feb 14 in Melbourne when they locks horn with England, which currently sits in fifth position in the One-Day International (ODI) rankings.
Earlier on the same day in Christchurch, co-host and sixth-ranked New Zealand will go head-to-head with former champions and fourth-placed Sri Lanka with just five points separating the two sides in the rankings.
Australia enjoys a comfortable six-point advantage over their closest rival and defending champions India, which squares off against traditional rivals and seventh-ranked Pakistan in Adelaide.
Also Feb 15 in Hamilton, third-ranked South Africa takes on continental rival Zimbabwe, which is currently 10th and trailing the title favourites by 55 points.
Two-time former champions and eighth-ranked West Indies will meet 12th-ranked Ireland in Nelson Feb 16 with 60 points separating the two sides.
Australia had also started as the top-ranked side in the 2011 edition, played in the subcontinent. However, it was Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side that lifted the trophy in Mumbai after entering the competition in second position and 12 points behind Australia.
Australia not only has the home advantage this time around, they are also enjoying a winning momentum, having won 17 ODIs with just five defeats and one no-result since January 2014.
International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI team rankings:
1. Australia 120 points
2. India 114
3. South Africa 113
4. Sri Lanka 108
5. England 104
6. New Zealand 103
7. Pakistan 95
8. West Indies 94
9. Bangladesh 75
10. Zimbabwe 53 (IANS)