CWC 2019: What to make of Sourav Ganguly’s choice of the four possible semi-finalists
As far as the ICC ODI rankings are concerned, England, India, New Zealand and South Africa are the top four teams, with Australia a close fifth. Pakistan is the sixth ranked team, but in terms of points, it is way below the fifth-ranked team. Moreover, they have just been white-washed in a five-match ODI series against Australia.
So, it came as a bit of a surprise to many when former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly picked Pakistan as one of the four teams that he thought, could make it to the semi-final stage of the upcoming World Cup.
His choice of England and India was a no-brainer, as these are the two teams that have dominated the ODI format in the last couple of years. So, most people would concur with him on these two selections.
But his choice of Australia and Pakistan, ahead of the third and the fourth-ranked teams in the world, New Zealand and South Africa, was a bit of a surprise to some. But a closer look would justify his selection of Australia. They are not only the defending champions, but also have a knack of producing their best at the biggest platforms.
They are also going to be buoyed by the arrival of two of the modern greats, David Warner and Steve Smith, in their ranks. After a series of losses, they have got two back-to-back bilateral series wins, against India and Pakistan. Both of those series wins have come away from home, too. In fact, they have won their last ODI matches. They have achieved this feat in the absence of Smith and Warner. So, they are only going to be stronger once these two join their team in the World Cup.
Pakistan was possibly the most surprising pick of the four. But they are possibly the most unpredictable team of all. They are a bunch of naturally talented players, and if they play to their potential, they can beat anyone on a given day. The memories of them convincingly beating the overwhelming favourites India, in the last edition of the Champions Trophy, is still fresh in many people’s minds.
Omissions of two higher-ranked teams, South Africa and New Zealand, is possibly because of the consistent under-performance of the former in high profile tournaments and the recent spate of poor form, for the latter. However, the West Indies could well prove to be the dark horse in this tournament.