My semi-finalists: An informed prediction on the future of the CWC15 tournament
Realistically, any of the big four in Pool ‘A’ as well as Pool ‘B’ can make it to the semifinals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. When I say big four I mean Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England in Pool ‘A’, and India, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies in Pool ‘B’. However, one can’t write off teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Ireland, which are perfectly capable of upsetting the favourites.
Let’s take a look at the big four of Pool ‘A’. Australia, I think, will definitely be in the semi-final simply because they have been playing fantastic cricket in the last 3 to 4 months. Their pace attack as well as batting line up are the best in the business, and they are also favourites to take out the championship. As we go to press the game between Australia and New Zealand is yet to take place at at Eden Park; the result of that match may change the equation a little bit.
New Zealand has now got a very well balanced side with a dynamic leader in Brendon McCallum, a match winning batsman and the most explosive the game has seen. England has started disastrously but I think they will regroup, come the knockout stage. The dark horse is really Sri Lanka because they are one of the most alented cricket teams, combining experience with new blood. Sangakkara, Jayawrdane and Dilhan are capable of tearing apart the best bowling attack in the world. The final standing at the end of Pool ‘A’ stage matches probably will be Australia, followed by New Zealand, followed by Sri Lanka and finally England.
Now to Pool ‘B’. India has come out all guns blazing by beating their arch rival Pakistan, and surprising themselves by beating South Africa by a big margin. The extended tour of Australia and acclimatising with local conditions has helped India, and their confidence level is very high. I would be surprised if they don’t top Pool B at the end of the pool matches. South Africa, on paper, has the best batting and bowling line up. With Amla, Faf du Plessis and de Villiers in their batting line up and Steyn, Philander and Morkel in their bowling line up, they will most likely end up in the number 2 position in Pool B. After having beaten Pakistan, the West Indies seem to have regained their mojo. Chris Gayle can single-handedly destroy the opposition but someone, the otherday, reminded me that his average in ODIs is just 18. Notwithstanding that, I will put West Indies in third position followed by Pakistan in the fourth position at the end of Pool B matches
So who will play who in the quarter finals? My take is Australia plays Pakistan; New Zealand plays West Indies; South Africa plays Sri Lanka; and India plays England. There could be very interesting sudden death matches and on the day, any team can beat the other. Given that, I think Australia will be too strong for Pakistan; New Zealand, playing in their own backyard will be too strong for West Indies; the South Africa and Sri Lanka game is the most intriguing and it can go either way and I say this because South Africans are known for chocking time and again whenthey reach these pressure cooker games, but this time I will go with South Africa. Now India Vs England will be a mammoth game for India because they have lost to England in the last 3 ODIs and Anderson, Finn and Broad seem to have cast their spell on the Indian top order batting. Will the new-found confidence of Dhawan, Sharma, Kohli, Rahane and Raina be strong enough to overcome this threat? I would say, yes. India is to beat England to reach the semifinals
So my semi-final line up is: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. I am hoping, like a billion or more Indian fans, it will be an Australia VS India final at the MCG