5 wins out of 5 games, and India seem raring to go in this edition of the world cup. They’ve been skating on ice gracefully, and hope that the last leg of the league phase will continue being on ice, and not potentially be a banana skin to step on. Zimbabwe have been a competitive side in this edition of the World Cup and would well know that but for a different decision of Sean Williams (In the Ireland v Zimbabwe game), this could have still been a game that mattered for a quarter final spot.
Zimbabwe, though have been more than a banana peel, when it comes an opponent, looking at history. England discovered their rustiness in the 1992 World Cup at Albury, when Eddo Brandes skittled them out for 125, resulting a 9 run victory and this would be a game that the Zimbabweans would keep for inspiration, since the conditions going into the game are similar for both the teams, India- All win record, Zimbabwe- having close games but a wretched tournament in terms of victories.
Looking at World Cup history, Zimbabwe by no means has been an easy opponent, except in 1987, when India waltzed both their league games against them. In 1983, 1992, 1996,1999 and 2003, each of these games were competitive, with India in fact losing to Zimbabwe in 1999, when Zimbabwe were probably fielding the best team they ever had. They would hope to challenge India, who’ve so far been challenged only by Ireland so far, until Ireland self immolated with the bat. If Zimbabwe are able to bat sensibly and allow Taylor and Ervine to bat to finish their innings, Zimbabwe should be able to set India a 300+ total which should be the best that the bowlers can hope to defend against a rampaging batting line up that India presents. This is the best way they can end the World cup, for a side that began 2014 on a somber note with problems with player payment, instability with coaches (Their ex-coach-Mongongo censured Tinyanshe Panyangara for sharing a video of Mitchell Johnson bouncing England in the Ashes), and loan mismanagement by their cricket board.
India, have so far been a side, that’s focused on being an aggressive side, that still lives in the moment and has a Zen of calmness around what they do. New Zealand has shown its mad max face in wanting to complete sub 200 chases in an effort to make hay before the moon shines, and have also been nearly ousted by Scotland and Australia. India may want to test some game strategy that’s different or may just want to live in the moment and take the game as they have done before sensibly. (Not-So-Fun-Fact: 3 moments of such madness in the space of 5 balls cost them their 1999 World Cup, against Henry Olonga)
- Eden Park-Auckland’s been quite the venue for the most entertaining games in the 2015 edition of the World Cup. Will it produce a humdinger? Lets bet on that…oops betting is not legal in India right?
- Most games at Eden Park in the last couple of years have been over 5 runs an over, except for a clutch of games, where scores between 150 and 186 were recorded. Unless either of the sides have a brain freeze, and the ICC suddenly decides to get out of populist mode, this pitch should be a batting pitch.