Group C should be interesting. Indians and South Africans have played a lot of cricket recently, starting from the Test and ODI series before the IPL. They haven't had a lot of time to rest, and the rapidly growing up Afghanistan will hope to take advantage of this.
Squad - Graeme Smith (c), Jacques Kallis, Loots Bosman, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Rory Kleinveldt, Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Rusty Theron, Roelof van der Merwe.
Key Players - Kallis was the second highest run-getter in the IPL, but he tapered off towards the end and his low strike rate began to hurt BRC. He's a classy player and can definitely bounce back, though. Graeme Smith and Loots Bosman at the top can win matches single-handedly if they get going. Dale Steyn has been superb in the IPL and will play a crucial role as the spearhead of the bowling attack. The spin attack of van der Merwe and Botha will be important in controlling the middle overs and as lower-order batsman.
Watch out for - JP Duminy had a see-saw time with the Mumbai Indians. When he came out as a finisher, he played a couple of aggressive innings, but when he was needed to bat longer in the middle overs he struggled on slow pitches. Gibbs was never in top form either, but he scored a few. With two openers in Smith and Bosman and another possible one in Kallis, will he get a chance to play? Albie Morkel has always saved his best efforts for his country and he will be a key-figure in all departments.
How far they will go: Can definitely make the semis, but they are also likely to struggle against spin. They will need great starts throughout the tournament. They also wouldn't like to hear the C word. Yes, "choke".
Squad - Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Murali Vijay, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, R Vinay Kumar, Rohit Sharma.
I've been itching to do this one for sometime now, but I resisted the urge to skip the order and spew. Anyway, I don't have a lot of spewing to do now, I've decided low expectations is the way to go. I'll still be watching every game and criticizing them in my head (and possibly here) but in the end I won't be too disappointed, unless they lose to the Afghanis and get knocked out in the 1st round or something.
Key Players - Gautam Gambhir has been in good form and as the sole experienced opener, he will be extremely important at the top - both for his ability to score big and do it quick. Dhoni is also in fine form, and I'm talking about both the batting and the captaincy. Yuvraj Singh is an immense power-up in the middle and late overs so he needs to fire. Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra are the bowlers who can get early wickets and bowl yorkers at the death. Harbhajan is the lone spinner (I don't count Yusuf / Jadeja as spinners).
Watch out for - Suresh Raina was fantastic in the IPL, but he needs to convert that into better performances for India. Ditto, Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma. Yusuf wasn't great in the IPL, so I don't expect much from him. Vinay Kumar may have done well at home, but better batsman may well make him disappear. I do think Chawla has it in him to perform (not just the International Cricket Captain talking). That is, if he plays.
How far they will go - Without Sehwag, with the under-performing Yuvraj and Yusuf and with my low-expectations idea, the second round is what I think.
Squad - Nawroz Mangal (c), Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf, Rais Ahmadzai, Dawlat Ahmadzai, Mohammad Shahzad, Hamid Hassan, Samiullah Shinwari, Noor Ali, Asghar Stanikzai, Shahpoor Zadran, Shabir Noori, Sayed Nasrat, Shafiq Shafaq.
They've had a fairytale rise in international cricket and will want to get atleast one win against a major side. Y'know, just for fun. And since they're in the same group, why not against South Africa? Unlikely, but it would be a hoot nevertheless.
Key Players - Hmm? I'll probably learn more after watching their game against India.
Watch out for - Dawlat Ahmadzai. Just a wild name I threw out there. Possibly because he took four wickets against the Irish. Or was that someone else? Anyway, his first name means 'wealth'. Everyone loves wealth.
How far they will go: Group stage. Maybe second round, but not at India's expense. Of course I'd say that.
One to go.