Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It’s nothing personal…just business…

The World Cup archives are once again updated with 42 new entries (games). Some will be dusted off in years to come…in appreciation for the drama, excitement & joy they’ve elicited. While others will be tossed aside for all the wrong reasons…kinda like Asoka de Silva :D
Over the past +/- 5 weeks, we’ve been privy to spinners opening the bowling, sensational batting collapses, a broken TV set, Kamran Akmal’s “what not to do on a cricket field” guide, a “stoned” West Indies and of course…England – the blokes who made ODI’s exciting again.
At the same time, quite a few of the 42 games involved the “minnows” and even though they provided us with some juicy upsets, for the most part they just delayed the inevitable. The final 8 was always just going to be that 8…hell I’m sure even Hansie would’ve placed a bet on it ;)
So now that we’re at the “business end” of the tournament, let’s look at the match ups ahead…
Q1 – Pakistan vs. West Indies
Both teams have given us what we’ve expected. Pakistan…unpredictable as ever, while West Indies are progressively undoing all the great work done by Sobers, Richards, Holding, Lara, Walsh etc. Both teams possess match winners (Afridi & Gayle), but in the end…fielding is going to be the deciding factor. However, this is a discipline which seems to be more of an afterthought for both; hence on the day…the best of the worst (in terms of fielding) will be victorious.
Q2 – India vs. Australia
This is going to be a cracker – India with the home advantage and Australia with the experience and guile to go all the way. Out of all the games…this is really a tough one to call. India’s world class batting line-up against Australia‘s bowling firepower. These 2 teams had contrasting group games – India were constantly under the microscope, while Australia performed well below their usual (ruthless) standards. Many say they have yet to peak and no one’s sure (including themselves) whether this is indeed possible. All I know is…only a fool will write off Australia!
Q3 – South Africa vs. New Zealand
If this was a rugby World Cup, then this match up would’ve been every fan’s dream. However, the Black Caps don’t instil the same fear as the All Blacks and as a result, I’m sure the Proteas are chuffed at their quarterfinal opponents. Any team that includes Daniel Vetorri, Ross Taylor and the McCullum brothers is a worthy opponent, but it’s as a collective unit that they always seem to fall short. The slow wickets might suit their style of play, but purely on merit and patriotism aside…I do believe the Proteas have enough strike power in all departments to humble the Kiwis.
Q4 – Sri Lanka vs. England
Like India…the Sri Lankan cricket team and supporters can’t be too happy at their opponents for the knockout stage. On paper Sri Lanka are the heavy favourites, but it’s the unpredictability of England that gives them the psychological edge. Throughout the group stages England surprised even themselves…their results were as diverse as Brad & Angelina’s kids. Even if they confuse themselves and everyone else, one thing you can be sure of is that it’ll be an epic game. Sri Lanks should take it, but then again…Strauss & Co. are running on fumes and with a silver lining to the loooooooong English season in sight, they’re definitely in with a chance (just as long as they don’t drop any).
So that’s my quarterfinal analysis folks…and if you agree or disagree with me, then please feel free to leave a comment. I’m not an expert, nor a professional cricketer…I only call it as I see it and would be very interested to hear your thoughts too!
Sharief ‘Sheriff’ Allie for DieHard Cricket Fans

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