New Delhi:Most World Cup teams have opted for experience with many risking injured players for the upcoming tournament to be played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The deadline for the 14 teams to announce their final 15-man squads to the International Cricket Council ended on Wednesday ahead of the Feb. 19 start of the event.
Unsurprisingly, most selection committees bolstered their spin attacks for the slow pitches on the subcontinent, with the notable exception of Australia, which picked only one front-line spinner in Nathan Hauritz and one spinning all-rounder in Steven Smith.
India looks the most formidable and balanced team, combining a fine recent record with the advantage of home conditions.
Batting great Sachin Tendulkar will lead a star-studded lineup in his record-equaling sixth World Cup. However, Tendulkar returned home due to a hamstring injury midway through a one-day series in South Africa, one of four players battling injuries.
Fellow top-order batsmen Virender Sehwag (shoulder) and Gautam Gambhir (hand), plus seam bowler Praveen Kumar (elbow) are the others currently out of action.
Piyush Chawla is the surprise inclusion for India as a third specialist spinner after veteran Harbhajan Singh and the promising Ravichandran Ashwin, especially considering there are several part-time options, too.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is understood to have asked for the leg-spinner, who last played for India more than two years ago, to be the backup for the relatively new Ashwin.
India will be staging the event for the third time, having reached the semi-finals on the previous occasions in 1987 and 1996, and the country's selectors are confident the team can win the title.
"We are confident we will win playing in India. The current team's form gives us a lot of confidence," said chief selector Kris Srikkanth, who was part of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad.
Australia, chasing a record fifth title and fourth consecutive victory, has also gone for the tried and tested in a squad that contains seven players from the 2007 edition.
Ricky Ponting (finger) and Michael Hussey (hamstring) are still recuperating, while speedsters Brett Lee and Shaun Tait have just recovered from elbow injuries and will lead a potent pace attack that also includes Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger.
The all-around capabilities of Shane Watson, John Hastings and David Hussey are expected to add depth to the bowling attack, aided by the spin of Hauritz and Smith.
"One of the major decisions to be made in this squad was ensuring the balance was right in the squad to provide the best cover for all positions in the event of injury, illness or form issues that may arise," chief selector Andrew Hilditch said.
South Africa, which has made three semi-finals in its five World Cup appearances, has focused on spin.
Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir and leg-spinning allrounder Faf du Plessis have been picked to enhance a formidable pace attack that consists of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and left-armers Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell.
Allrounder Jacques Kallis is not playing in the current ODI series against India due to a rib injury but is expected to recover.
"Jacques is undergoing rehabilitation at the moment, but we are confident with four weeks to go until the World Cup we can get him ready to partake," Team Manager Mohammed Moosajee said.
In excellent recent form in all formats of the sport, England has also enhanced its slow bowling attack by picking off-spinner James Tredwell as back up for Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy.
The Andrew Strauss-led side has the experienced Paul Collingwood, Luke Wright and Stuart Broad as all-rounders, while wicketkeeper Matt Prior returns to the ODI squad at the expense of Steven Davies.
"We believe we have selected an extremely exciting World Cup squad that offers balance with several options across the entire squad," national selector Geoff Miller was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.com. "With this tournament being staged on the sub-continent, the conditions will require a specific style of cricket and we feel that we've selected a squad that can prosper in these conditions."
Sri Lanka, winner of the 1996 World Cup as a co-host, ignored veterans Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas but felt Muttiah Muralitharan is still the best man to lead a spin attack that also consists of Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath.
The Kumar Sangakkara-led side has considerable experience in batting and an advantage in playing its early matches at home.
West Indies' bowling attack will be led by Kemar Roach, while Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo will be expected to get among the runs for the team that won the first two World Cups, in 1975 and '79.
The team also won the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in England, but has struggled with inconsistency ever since.
"We believe that we have come up with a good mix of players who will be able to do well in the Asian conditions," selectors chairman Clyde Butts said.
New Zealand, which had a disastrous run on the subcontinent recently when it lost 4-0 to Bangladesh in a five-match series and was then thrashed 5-0 by India, is going in with more or less the same side.
Uncapped all-rounder Luke Woodcock's left-arm spin enhances the slow bowling options, a department led by captain Daniel Vettori.
Pakistan has also gone with continuity, once again ignoring veteran Mohammad Yousuf and dropping seamer Tanvir Ahmed as the only man from the current 16-member team in New Zealand not to make the cut.
Surprisingly, Pakistan has not yet named a skipper.
Bangladesh, which knocked out India in the first round of the last World Cup, has played it safe by not selecting injury-prone fast bowling all-rounder Mashrafe Mortaza due to a knee complaint.
Final 15-member squads of 14 teams
Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
Ashish Bagai (captain), Rizwan Cheema, Harvir Baidwan, Nitish Kumar, Hiral Patel, Tyson Gordon, Henry Osinde, John Davison, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Parth Desai, Karl Whatham, Khurram Chohan, Jimmy Hansra, Zubin Surkari, Balaji Rao, Hamza Tariq.
Jimmy Kamande (captain), Seren Waters, Alex Obanda, David Obuya, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, Tamnay Mishra, Rakep Patel, Morris Ouma, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Peter Ongondo, Shem Ngoche, James Ngoche.
Daniel Vettori (captain), Hamish Bennett, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock.
Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir.
Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga , Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath.
Elton Chigumbura (captain), Regis Chakabva, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Sean Ervine, Greg Lamb, Shingi Masakadza, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Ed Rainsford, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams.
Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Shariar Nafees, Zunaed Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Raqibul Hassan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riad, Abdur Razzak, Naeem Islam, Shafiul Islam, Suhrawardi Shuvo, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Hossain.
Andrew Strauss (captain), Jimmy Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar.
William Porterfield (captain), Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Gary Wilson, Andrew White.
Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Barresi, Mudassar Bukhari, Atse Buurman, Tom Cooper, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Bradley Kruger, Bernard Loots, Adeel Raja, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Szwarczynski, Ryan ten Doeschate, Berend Westdijk, Bas Zuiderent.
Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk.
Darren Sammy (captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh Jr., Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith.