Tuesday, March 3, 2015

At the Half Way Stage - Cricket World Cup 2015 and Quarter Final Predictions

A Special Guest Post from my friend Narsimha Sarma Veturi who writes beautiful stories at his space - Neither Here Nor There and is an ardent cricket fan. We do regularly chat about cricket on Indiblogger especially about how India are doing. In this post Narsimha looks back to the 2 weeks of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and also makes his predictions for the Quarter Finals, read on!

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We are just two matches past from the halfway stage, or towards the business end of the tournament, and despite the one-sided nature of a lot of contests, it is fair to say that the World Cup 2015 has been a fairly entertaining one. The intent to win every match was on display by all the teams including the associates, which makes the World Cup the darling event of Cricket.

No team has played as per my expectations from them before the tournament has begun, except perhaps England and to an extent New Zealand. The biggest surprise, albeit a pleasant one, was the excellence of India, who were clinical in each of their victories, and for a change, working towards a set plan. Dhoni’s leadership has been spirited and particularly commendable especially considering the long disappointing tour till that game against Pakistan and the team looks pretty upbeat about their prospects. I think the opening game was a huge morale boost, being against the archrivals, beating them in front of a packed house has done us a lot good. Dhoni made a point to thank the crowd in his post-match interview, and I get a feeling that the crowd factor does wonders for this Team who are always cheered up enthusiastically back home.

The toppers from the other group New Zealand were expressive, aggressive and ruthless in their victories against weaker teams, and employed the same strategy in the match of the tournament so far against Australia. Mc Cullum’s captaincy was refreshing and purposeful and they played each match like they meant to go all through this time. Their bowling remains their strongest suit and with Mc Cullum and Williamson in their current form, their chances in this World Cup are the brightest. Though India have surprised and leapfrogged everyone to be considered the favorites, I think the match against India and New Zealand will decide the winner of this edition.

It also looks like I expected a lot out of Pakistan and West Indies. The latter didn’t help themselves with their squad selection, but their losses to Ireland and South Africa must feel quite bad for them. They redeemed themselves a bit with their win against Zimbabwe, but on the whole their performances have been pretty inconsistent. Pakistan, on the other hand have been awful and underwhelming even in their victory against Zimbabwe. Their loss to West Indies was the most unexpected result so far in Pool B. They don’t inspire confidence as a unit, seemingly, by not playing as one and their fielding has been the worst I have seen so far in this World Cup. Their batting and keeping, or rather the choice of keeper, remain a worry as usual and there is only so much Misbah and the bowlers could do.

As I write this, Ireland are taking on South Africa and the good news for the Saffers is that they are batting first, so there shouldn’t be many worries for them about this game.  Their loss against India should make them second in the pool and they should fancy their chances against Sri Lanka. The game between Ireland and Pakistan would be a key one as it should decide who proceeds further. I back Ireland to triumph against Pakistan and qualify for the Quarters. My prediction is that West Indies would take up the other spot, having defeated Pakistan.

Will The Pakistan Fans still be smiling when the Quarter Final line ups are unveiled??

In Pool A, there weren’t many surprises. NZ top the pool comfortably and as per current standings Bangladesh stands next to them, after getting a point the game washed off by rain against Australia. England’s performances were predictable and with only one win after 4 matches, I don’t see them going ahead into the quarter finals. The key match would be when Bangladesh would take on England, which could determine the fourth team to make it to the knockouts. Bangladesh doesn’t look particularly threatening, but they did alright against Afghanistan, and if they could get their act together for a while, I think they can make it to the Quarters and I’m certainly backing them to do so. I don’t think there will be any more surprises by the associates, but Afghanistan may want to disagree on that. Having beaten England convincingly, Sri Lanka would go through, and their game against the Aussies determines who will play South Africa in the Quarter Finals. At the half way stage, Australia have only played two full games and one can sense their squad getting restless. The batting misfired against New Zealand but Mitchell Starc’s improved performances shall give them a lot of hope, especially against Sri Lanka who are vulnerable against pace and movement. I back Aussies to win their game against Sri Lanka and get into the second spot in Pool A.

So, there we have it; an entertaining three week period, looking ahead to some more of the same.

My Final Predictions for the Quarter Finals -

Bangladesh vs India
South Africa vs Sri Lanka
Australia vs Ireland
New Zealand vs West Indies

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

1 comment:

DS said...

Pretty neat analysis Narsimha!!
My Semi Final Predictions would be -

India vs Bangladesh
South Africa vs Australia
West Indies vs Sri Lanka
Pakistan vs New Zealand

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