For a brief while since the exit of their legends like Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, the Aussies experienced a brief spell of failure on the international arena. It was expected though as the Aussies had moved into a transitioning phase. And the price for the rebuilding was the loss in the quarter-finals to India at Mohali in the 2011 World Cup, which brought their dominance in the prestigious event to an end. Ricky Ponting was still at the helm of affairs for the Aussies, but he didn't have the team that could go all the way.
Four years later though things have changed drastically, and Australia will once again head into the tournament as firm favourites, the one they have captured on four occasions, and in which they have been finalists twice. It is tribute to the Australian system that they are back near the top again. This team might not be as charismatic as Steve Waugh's invincibles or Ricky Ponting's ruthless outfit, but they know how to get the job done for sure.
Apart from the aid of home conditions, Australia will be backed by a batting line-up with a mix of stroke makers and accumulators. In the pace department, they have experienced speedsters as well as rookies, who are capable of running through opponents on their given day. The fitness of Michael Clarke and the form of George Bailey is something they need to work around though. The lack of a quality spinner is also a weakness, but Aussies would hope that they wouldn't need Xavier Doherty to do a lot.
David Warner: The Aussie opener has been in sensational form in both the Tests and the one-dayers. He carried on his great form into the warm-ups as well, thrashing the Indians also over the park. Warner can decimate attacks, and if it is his day, the bowlers can do little. This is why he's so dangerous.
Glenn Maxwell: From being a T20 specialist, Maxwell has gone places, and has booked a permanent spot for himself in the middle-order. He has shown some maturity in recent times, batting out time in the tri-series final, before exploding. Opposition bowlers must get him early, else they could be in for a lot of trouble.
Mitchell Starc: Yes, there is Mitchell Johnson in the team, who is the leader of the attack. But, of late, it has been Starc who has been among the wickets. Using his height to great effect, he troubled most batsmen in the tri-series. Warne's 'Starc is soft' comment seems like a distant memory.
James Faulkner: There are question marks over his fitness. But, if in full flow, he is invaluable to the team. He can come in and play game changing cameos, and is among the wickets more often than not with his medium pace. Australia would want a fit Faulkner.
Squad: Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson
Feb 14 vs England at Melbourne Cricket Groun
Feb 21 vs Bangladesh at Brisbane Cricket Groun
Feb 28 vs New Zealand at Eden Park, Aucklan
Mar 4 vs Afghanistan at WACA, Perth
Mar 8 vs Sri Lanka at Sydney Cricket Ground
Mar 14 vs Scotland at Bellerive Oval, Hobar
--By A Cricket Analyst t