ICC Cricket World Cup Semifinal Prediction
The minnow’s have all returned home and the big boy’s have been left to fight it out amongst themselves for the big prize in one day cricket. Who will be the men who play the key roles in the tournament from here?
Pakistan. In a very odd result Pakistan have somehow manged to top group A. On paper they lack in both batting and bowling but thus far have been better than the sum of their parts. You just never know what you are going to get with Pakistan and as a result they are both unbackable and difficult to write off. As much as a contradiction as that may seem
Key Player: Younis Khan. The veteran batsmen is the backbone of an otherwise brittle batting line up. A difficult man to tie down who is capable of batting for long periods and can shift through the gears.
Match Winner: Shahid Afridi. The captain who was once one of the most feared batsmen in the world has become the golden are of the side. His bowling is difficult to hit and bowl’s genuine wicket taking deliveries. Don’t be suprised to see an astonishing cameo with the bat at some stage either.
Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka were my pre-tournament favorites and little I’ve seen has shaken that view. They have good strong top order batting and bowlers who will worry all of the other teams. Will also have the backing of a partisan home crowd and the advantage of home conditions up until the final
Key Player : Kumar Sangakkara. Wicketkeeper/batsmen/captain/chief bottle washer etc. Sangakkara remains the wicket that the opposition most cherish. A difficult man to subdue who will score quickly and can take a game away from the opposition.
Match winner: Lasith Malinga. Forget the fact that his action is barely legal the fearsome toe-breaking yorkers he sends down can turn any match on it’s head.
Australia. The Aussies have gone about their business with a minimum amount of fuss and effort. Having gone against conventional wisdom and relied on the pace bowlers on the spin friendly pitches of the sub continent. It may well pay dividends yet.
Key Player: Brett Lee. Lee’s retirement from the test arena has left him free to concentrate on shorter forms of the game. The most reliable of Australia’s pace trio (although when the other two are “two over” Tait and “where’s this one going” Johnson, it doesn’t take much.) he can be relied upon to hurry up the opposition batsmen and will find life on the flatest of tracks.
Match winner: Mike Hussey. Huss has returned to the squad following injury and looks in imperious form. Anyone who witnessed the last two overs against Pakistan in the t20 world cup will know that even when things look impossible Hussey can make them happen.
New Zealand. The kiwi’s, as ever, have done what’s expected. Always a certainty for the quarter finals in any tournament. They are capable of progressing further but need to have all of their first choice players available as the squad lacks depth.
Key player: Daniel Vettori. The skipper’s knee should have recovered in time for the quarter finals. He is rightly regarded as one of the best slow bowlers on the world stage in this format of the game and will ask questions of the best batsmen in the world.
Match winner: Ross Taylor. A powerful middle order batsmen, who demonstrated his devastating ability in his remarkable 100 against Pakistan. If he can recapture any of that form then New Zealand could be a match for anyone.
South Africa. Topped group B and have already succumbed to there traditional choking moment against England. Lack lower order batting but if the top 5 fire will be more than competitive.
Key player : AB De Villiers. The consistent run getter in the Saffa’s line up so far. A man who scores quickly and aim’s shot’s all around the ground. When he gets scores he gets big ones.
Match Winner: Imran Tahir. The mercenary of cricket has represented more teams and flirted with more nationalities than is believable. The leg spinner could be the final piece in the jig saw that propels South Africa to a first world cup victory.
India. The best batting line up left in the tournament and arguably the weakest bowling attack. Really should learn from the tie against England and defeat to South Africa and bat 2nd at every available opportunity.
Key player: Sachin Tendulkar. Still the batsmen that most cricket fan’s would pay to watch bat above any other. Need’s one more century to make it a round 100 in international cricket.
Match winner: Zaheer Khan. Amongst an otherwise suspect bowling attack, Zaheer is the one man capable of building pressure on the opposing batsmen. If India are to progress then Khan needs to be on top of his game.
England. Thus far the most entertaining team in the tournament. If the batting and bowling department’s happen to come together on the same day could beat anybody.
Key player: Andrew Strauss. The lynch pin of the batting line up. If Strauss gets over 10 more often that not he will get 50+. He inspires confidence in the guy’s around him.
Match winner: Greame Swann The irrepressible heartbeat of the team. His delayed entrance into international cricket has only been more surprising than the form he has shown. The most feared off break bowler in the world currently and England need him to be create pressure and take wickets.
West Indies. The Windies, like England, have stumbled from the sublime to the ridiculous at various point’s in the group stages. A propensity to panic at key moment’s underpin’s the natural talent and flamboyancy of the team.
Key Player: Kemar Roach. Has genuine pace and will progress to become the spearhead of the attack. Still a little rough around the edges but has enough ability to worry the best.
Match Winner: Chris Gayle. The coolest, most laid back cricketer on the planet. If he is in the mood and can bat at full pelt for 20 overs the game can be won before it’s even got started.
Now to make my quarter final predictions and fall flat on my face in the process.
Semi finalist’s will be Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Don’t ask my reasoning, just trust me on this one.