Just when you near the end of your holiday, does it dawn on you that your holiday is about to end? I guess that’s how most of the cricket fans must be feeling. We’ve flirted a month long with emotions of hope, anxiety, abuse, banter and chirpiness. The romance associated with David defeating Goliath lasted a few fleeting moments and did not quite extend to the knockouts as none of the associates managed to reach the finish line.
8 of the top nations have earned their place in the knockouts. There’s not been place for any hate or animosity unlike previous world cups, with none of teams boycotting any match.
Now for picking the winner. I am going to into each of the matches and trying to put my bracket on who would probably win the World Cup
South Africa vs Sri Lanka
South Africa have had an indifferent tournament so far, where they have shown contrasts. They have had 2 bad days out of 6 and both have come against Asian sides and both were while chasing totals. Not the kind of a ‘choking’ report card to have when going into a knockout stage of a tournament. If the Proteas have worked out what failed them, they can look to march ahead of the Lankans. If I were AB, I’d look to bat first at the SCG and pile up a big total and put pressure on the Lankans. Except for some wayward bowling by England, Sri Lanka have not quite chased down 300 plus totals well in this world cup. Despite the chokers tag, I expect South Africa to win if they bat first. If they bat second South Africa chase 30 more mental runs than what Sri Lanka set trying to dust off cobwebs of the C word.
My pick – South Africa
India vs Bangladesh
The only conditions Bangladesh has run India close or made India struggle is in Bangladesh, but only of those matches in recent times has resulted in Bangladesh winning. India’s rejuvenation with their bowling unit has been remarkable despite the little jolt and Tonk received in Auckland and Hamilton. India have moved away from the smaller boundaries of New Zealand into the cauldron of the 90 meter boundary line at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). India’s batting has been tested well and on sheer man-to-man comparison, India holds the aces in this all important knockout contest against Bangladesh.
My Pick- India
Australia has a very strong line up, and will be facing a Pakistan team high on talent. Pakistan’s death bowling faces off against Australia’s longish slogging middle order. This battle could be the one that decides the contest. Australia are the fancied side to win, but with Pakistan making a U turn in the world cup winning their last 4 games from starting with 2 defeats, the game looks to be balanced. Pakistan may be able to put pressure on Australia if they bat first and their bowling can put Australia under pressure. If Australia bats first, in all likeliness Pakistan loses since they haven’t really been able to sustain momentum on 300 run chases in this world cup. I am 50/50 with both teams but am tempted to go ahead and tip Pakistan to win.
My pick- Pakistan
New Zealand vs West Indies
The Caribbean’s have been blowing hot and cold and have not seized crucial moments this world cup. I expect New Zealand to steamroll West Indies. NZ’s batting has been through a couple of tests with Australia and Bangladesh, where despite a collapse they showed the nerve to come back and win games.
My pick – New Zealand