Tuesday, March 17, 2015

World Cup 2015 - Quarter-Final Predictions

The battle-lines are drawn. The Quarter-finalists identified. 7 games remaining, 7 teams to be knocked out. 1 winner. On the eve of the first of the 4 Quarter-finals, its Divination time – the time to predict the teams still left standing after four days of hopefully intense battle.

Quarter-Final 1 – South Africa vs Sri Lanka

The foremost question - Will South Africa choke again? AB de Villiers has said they won’t. History suggests otherwise.

It’s an intriguing clash between two teams with very evenly matched records against each other. Both are coming in with 4 wins each. South Africa have a suspect record while chasing and a tendency to not make through to the knock-outs. Sri Lanka on the other hand have regularly been reaching the last stages of ICC events. They also have been losing players through the tournament and have a question mark on their bowling.

The toss will be crucial. Both would want to bat first and avoid the scoreboard pressure while chasing.

Prediction – Sri Lanka to win toss, bat first, put up a fairly decent total. South Africa would begin the chase in earnest, then falter, and asphyxiate, resulting in a Sri Lankan victory.

Quarter-Final 2 – India vs Bangladesh

Both teams have had a much better than expected Group Stage. Powered by their bowlers (!!!), India sailed through to the top of the Group with 1 full game to spare. On the other hand, Bangladesh punched out England and gave a good scare to the Kiwis on their way to the knockouts. The MCG is expected to be filled with Indian supporters, some Bangladeshi supporters and a decent contingent of the Barmy Army. 

India are the favorites but will do well to remember the 2007 World Cup. Bangladesh don’t have anything to lose but a win would certainly be the greatest day in their sporting history. 

Prediction – India (what else to expect from an Indian blogger)

Quarter-Final 3 – Australia vs Pakistan

On one corner, the home team, who are an efficient mean machine out to destroy all opposition with both bat and ball and powered by a sense of not giving it up till the last ball has been bowled. They have had a smooth ride into the Quarters with only one bump in the road. Even in that loss to the Kiwis they showed the true Aussie grit. Where many teams would have given up after being knocked out for 150 odd, Australia fought back hard and the Kiwis barely managed to scrape home with one wicket to spare.

On the other corner, you have Pakistan, a team which is the very definition of mavericks. The Irish were knocked out by Pakistan, not because of their own loss to them, but due the hammering which Pakistan got from the West Indies. After years of using one Akmal or the other, Pakistan have finally learnt that it pays to have an actual wicket-keeper doing the job behind the stumps. A good bowling combined with some brittle batting make up for a totally unpredictable combination.

Prediction – Australia to win.

Quarter-Final 4 – New Zealand vs West Indies

The Kiwis go into the knock-outs with a cent percent record while West Indies have barely managed to make it on the basis of net run rates. The Kiwis have looked set to destroy the opposition batting and then chase down the small targets as fast as possible. Though sometimes the batting does implode but so far they have survived on this tactics. West Indies, on the other hand, seem to have no plan but just individuals doing the job either fantastically well or spectacularly badly with no middle ground. Gayle can get a double century all by himself or the bowlers can tie down the Indian top order but chances of both events happening together seem quite unlikely.

The result could well depend on which version of West Indies turns up to play.

Prediction – New Zealand to win. Or a Chris Gayle explodes (which hasn’t ever happened in any crucial game in any format for any team).

Now its time to see how good my "inner eye" is.

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

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