The World cup is only half way through but the way the teams have gone thus far tells you a lot about what is to come.
Group A has panned out as expected, the International teams have decimated the Associates. Canada, Zimbabwe and Kenya have only ratified the ICC’s decision of streaming down the number of teams for the next world cup down under. Kenya have been the most impressive of the Associate teams as far as Group A is concerned, improving considerably with every game.
Here is a look at how the top 4 teams have gone (Group A) and what lies ahead:
– The defending champions came into the tournament on the back of a drubbing that they offered the Poms after an embarrassing defeat in the Ashes. Australia have a lot of things going for them this tournament, decent batting order, potent attack and fabulous fielders.
– However, a few obvious gaping holes do lie in between. Their batting has been suspect this tournament, despite the 320 odd that they scored against the Kenyans. Both the openers have looked sublime but the middle order has not been able to keep the score board ticking. Michael Clarke was an exception today, but, Ricky Ponting and Cameron White have been in woeful touch with the bat. Ponting has still snuck through but White’s form has been real cause for concern.
– On the positive note, Michael Hussey has returned to the Australian side giving the batting much needed potency in the middle order. Hussey always seems to have a calming influence about himself that invariably rubs of on his peers.
– All the talk about the Australian bowling being the best in the tournament, the three pronged pace attack looked ordinary against Kenya and could be exposed against better oppositions in the quarter finals if they fail to hit their lengths. Having said this, I personally do believe that if the bowlers hit their straps soon, the oppositions may be in for some contest. Add to this, their bowling has the best strike rate across all teams this world cup. Australia’s bowling should improve over the next week.
– The last time the World cup was staged in the sub continent, it was the Lankan tigers who walked away with the trophy. Arjuna Ranatunga inspired the Rest of the World as he enabled Sri Lanka announce themselves on the World stage.
– 15 years later, the World cup is back in the sub continent and you would not bet against the Lankans, they are wily at home and looked determined like never before. Muttiah Muralidaran is sure to hang his boots up with the closure of this tournament and would look to bring home the cup after 15 elusive years.
– The Lankan top order looks solid, with Tillakaratne Dilshan taking them of to blazing starts on a regular basis. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene provide the perfect foil in the middle order. It is their lower order batting that is a little questionable, Angelo Mathews does not look good enough to provide the impetus at the fag end of the innings on a consistent basis. They rely on other bits and pieces cricketers in Thisara Perera and co to do the job.
– Nevertheless, you cannot discount them. Just a reminder, Sanath Jayasuriya was an unknown commodity too in 1996, so you never know with the Lankans.
– Their bowling seems very steady with Lasith Malinga and Muralidaran leading the pack. Sri Lanka should make the semi finals and stand a very good chance this tournament if they can sort out their late order batting.
– The only consistent thing with Pakistan is inconsistency. On paper they look a very balanced unit, one that opposition teams must really take seriously. But which Pakistan you get on the day, can never be told. It is a well documented fact, Pakistan on their day can beat the chickens out of their opponents.
– They have looked impressive this tournament barring the outing against New Zealand where they threw away their position of strength and ended up being battered like one of the minnows.
– A steady top order lead by Younis Khan and Misbah ul Haq is followed by a flamboyant middle order in Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi with Abdul Razzaq providing the finishing touch. Perhaps the most efficient lower middle order across all teams, Pakistan is sure a team to watch out for.
– The bowling complements their batting perfectly, 2 front line seamers backed by a steady Razzaq and useful spinners in Afridi and Rehman to do the job. However, Pakistan’s biggest issue for many years now, has been their fielding. The fielding fails to give teeth to the bowling and they tend to put down a couple of catches, least, every match.
– Contenders this year, if only they can shave of the slack and unprofessionalism, Pakistan may just do what they did in 1992.
– New Zealand, workman like, have been very industrious in the way they have gone about things. Nothing flashy in their cricket, steady and stable.
– One feels for New Zealand, with a population under 50 lacs, it must be hard to find full time professional cricketers.
– It has to be Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor who have got to do the bulk of the job with the bat, if New Zealand stand any chance this world cup. Daniel Vettori, by far is their most proficient and experienced player.
– A lot of things have to go wrong for other teams and a lot right for NZ if they have to proceed any further than the quarters this World cup.
– The lack of a game changers with both bat and ball is a huge problem for the Kiwis. They will have to make do without them or hope young guns in Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson come to the fort.
– A good side in decent form but may find it difficult to proceed ahead of the quarter finals.
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