By Amlan ChakrabortyNEW DELHI, India (Reuters) – England’s relationship with the Cricket World Cup (CWC) has been one of frustration, disappointment and even embarrassment but they host this year’s tournament as the top-ranked 50-over team and favourites to lift the trophy for the first time.From hosting the first three tournaments and reaching the final in 1979, 1987 and 1992, England slid downwards and reached its nadir four years ago when they unceremoniously exited at the group stage in Australia, the last straw being a humbling by an upstart Bangladesh.Since then, however, the limited-overs caterpillars have transformed themselves into white-ball butterflies, acquiring an enviable assortment of big-hitters who routinely post 300-plus scores.The single group, round-robin format of this year’s tournament also substantially reduces the risk of an exit and should ensure the strongest teams reach the last four – good news for the game’s powerhouse India.Those two look nailed on to reach the last four but any from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and even a revitalised West Indies could easily join them.With all 10 teams playing each other once to determine the four semi-finalists, the big teams will have plenty of opportunities to recover from any giant-killing act they may be subjected to by outsiders Bangladesh and Afghanistan.England’s spectacular rise is due to a change in their approach to one-day cricket and Jonny Bairstow reflected that when the opener was recently asked to choose between winning the World Cup and regaining the Ashes.“I am going (to pick the) World Cup because it’s been so long since we’ve had an opportunity to win one,” said Bairstow.“I think that the amount of work that has gone into this group of players over the last couple of years, building and building, I firmly believe we’ve put an amount of effort in, that gives us the best chance.”With home advantage comes home expectation as Eoin Morgan leads arguably the strongest England side in the history of the tournament which has seen a co-host triumph in the last two editions.INDIA EXPECT No burden of expectation, however, can be heavier than the one resting on the shoulders of Virat Kohli and his team mates out to win India’s third ODI World Cup.It is especially so after their performance in the last two global events on English soil where India won the 2013 Champions Trophy against the hosts and finished runners-up to arch-rivals Pakistan in the next edition four years later.A modern batting great himself, Kohli headlines a formidable top order, while India have also acquired a potent pace attack, spearheaded by death-overs exponent Jasprit Bumrah.Emotions will run high during their June 16 match against Pakistan following a further souring of relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours in recent times.Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, however, cannot afford to get distracted by the hype around the Manchester match-up as he seeks consistency from a notoriously fickle side.“It’s annoying for us to keep being unpredictable, but it’s true,” former ODI captain Azhar Ali told the ICC website recently.“We have done well in World Cups, even though no one rates us that highly in the build-up. We always produce good performances so hopefully this will be a special one.”Holders Australia face their own struggles as they try to put a ball-tampering scandal behind them for a successful title defence.Captain Aaron Finch’s own battle with poor form provided the microcosm of the turmoil Australian cricket endured before series victories against India and Pakistan.Former captain Steve Smith and opener David Warner returned from their year-long bans over the ball-tampering incident to bolster a side who endured their longest sequence of consecutive ODI defeats in 2018.Apart from their scoring duties, the duo, who made a successful return from elbow surgeries at the Indian Premier League (IPL), will also assist Finch in leading the side.New Zealand will hope the collective experience of skipper Kane Williamson, batting pair Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill, and paceman Tim Southee will help the 2015 finalists secure a semi-final spot.South Africa under Faf du Plessis are desperate to shed their “chokers” tag but find themselves already grappling with injuries to their pacemen, with Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje all nursing niggles.Once-invincible West Indies had to come through the qualifiers but could be a surprise element with the return of opener Chris Gayle and all-rounder Andre Russell.
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Syracuse senior point guard Frank Howard could return to practice about one week before the season opener, SU head coach Jim Boeheim said Friday. That timetable could put him on track to play in Syracuse’s first regular-season game, which is Nov. 6.Howard, wearing a protective boot on his left leg, sustained a basketball-related injury sometime in September. The injury was announced Sept. 14. Howard has not practiced since then. He expects to return to practice in about three weeks, before the Orange’s 2018-19 regular-season opener Nov. 6 against Eastern Washington inside the Carrier Dome.“We expect that, if all goes well, he would be able to practice about a week before our first regular-season game,” Boeheim said Friday afternoon. “If everything goes according to plan.”Howard will begin walking next week without the boot. In the meantime, freshman guard Jalen Carey has taken many of Howard’s point-guard time in practice, Boeheim said. The preseason experience aids in Carey’s acclimation to the SU system, familiarizes him with the running the offense and could set him on track to be Syracuse’s first guard off the bench.“It hurts a little bit,” Boeheim said of Howard’s injury. “But if he was playing and Jalen wasn’t playing, it would hurt Jalen a lot more because he’s learning the system. Frank knows what we do. He sees what’s going on. I thought coming in off the summer and fall that Frank was playing the best that I’ve seen him play here. And I think he’ll get right back to that pretty quickly.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLast season, the Orange went 23-14 overall and 8-10 in conference play. They return all five starters, including Howard, who averaged 14.4 points and 4.7 assists. He shot 37.6 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from 3-point territory.As a junior last season, Howard improved in his ball handling while limiting his turnovers (3.41 per game), both of which prevented him from playing significant minutes during his first two seasons. In 2017-18, he became the floor general SU needed him to be at the top of the offense, starting in all 37 games and averaging 38.4 minutes per contest.Boeheim said last month that Howard will be “as important” this coming season as he was last year.Syracuse’s first exhibition game is Oct. 25 versus Saint Rose in the Carrier Dome. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 12, 2018 at 7:54 pm Contact Matthew: email@example.com | @MatthewGut21