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ICC World Cup: Pre Tournament Favorites in Top Four


India, Australia, England and New Zealand ultimately qualifying for the semi finals is no surprise. England, Australia and India were pre tournament hot favorites and New Zealand was runners up of 2015 world cup.

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These four are also the top four in ICC ODI ranking now. Of them Australia won in 5 times in the past, India won twice.

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England went very near three times in the past, New Zealand was always there about and was losing finalist in 2015. On 9 July top of the table India plays New Zealand at Old Trafford. Australia would meet traditional rival England on July 11 at Edgbaston .The winners meet at Lords on July 14.

Going by the performances of the teams in WC 2019, one can conclude that the teams having better quality, greater depth and diversity and stronger mental strength, physical toughness ultimately qualified. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka may think they were hard done.

But to be honest neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh were the teams to go the distance. But these teams did not have perfect balance or consistency in their performances. Two other teams South Africa and West Indies played few good matches but they also did not have the consistency or quality to force their way into top four.

Top Five Teams in World Cup 2019

Teams Matches Won Lost Rain Grace Points NRR
India 9 7 1 1 15 +0.809
Australia 9 7 2 0 14 +0.868
England 9 6 3 0 12 +1.152
New Zealand 9 5 3 1 11 +0.175
Pakistan 9 5 3 1 11 -0.430

 

We are sure teams leaving WC early will have extensive home works done on their performances and make themselves ready for another world cup in 2023. It is time now we deal with the remaining three match’s two semi finals and the final at Lords on 14 July 2019.

Preview of Semi Finals
India May Find New Zealand Hard Nut Cracking

Top of the table strong favorites India plays New Zealand at Old Trafford today. . India of the 9 matches only lost against England which did not please many of the blues billion admirers round the world.

Being better placed in winning position India did not go all out for the win playing safe. An Indian win could make England passage to the semi finals thorny and slippery.

The semi final at Old Trafford would witness battle of Indian top order against high quality pace attack of New Zealand and performance of Kiwi top order against India’s versatile all round bowling . Both the team has issues with middle order batting.

New Zealand is far better in fielding, taking catches and saving runs. Kiwis have issues against quality spin. Neither have they possessed quality spinner.

As for Indian batting century merchant prolific Rohit Sharma at the top is in rollicking form. Scoring 5 centuries in this world cup Rohit has already eclipsed the record of Sri Lanka maestro Sangakkara of 4 centuries that he scored in 2015 world cup.

India lost their star opener Shikhar Dhawan through injury in the match against Australia. Young Rahul stepping into his shoes is also playing wonderfully well. Virat Kohli arguably the best batsman of current cricket need to introduction.

On his day he can win a match by his batting alone. He has not however scored a century yet in the world cup. Possibly he has kept yet reserve for the big matches.

However, India’s vulnerability is its middle order batting. Young Rishabh Pants inclusion has given some impetus but Hardik Pandya, Karthik and Dhoni have not fired yet. If top three Rohit, Rahul and Kohli for any reason fail India may struggle against quality pace attack of New Zealand.

India did not bat well as a team so far, relying very heavily on top three. On their day Boult, Ferguson and Henry can be devastating. India need scoring 300 plus for putting New Zealand batting under pressure.
India arguably has the best bowling attack in the tournament.

Bumrah with his special bowling action and deadly Yorkers can cause damage taking early inroads. He is equally deadly in the death overs.

Kumar swings either side at pace. Shami is fast and furious. In limited opportunities given Shami proved as a genuine wicket taker. We are not sure whether India will play three genuine pacers .Two finger spinners Chahal and Yadav and left arm spinning all-rounder Jadeja give Virat Kohli lot of option.

New Zealand batsmen would find it not easy going to chase if India batting first score 300 plus.

New Zealand success in this tournament was wins against lesser fries early on. They were at the top of the table for a long time.

But deep into the tournament they lost consistency and started loosing matches against stronger opponents. They only qualified for better run rates piping Pakistan to the post. Loosing the winning momentum it will not be easy for them regrouping against strong India.

But one advantage that they have is, they know Indian strength and weakness for the engagement of key players in IPL. Kiwi batting to a large extent depends of prolific middle order batsmen Williamson and Taylor.

Their star opener Martin Guptill has not delivered so far. Jimmy Neesham, Tom Latham and Colin Grandhomme must contribute if New Zealand has to challenge strong India. Kiwis also lack a genuine spinner. These days with sun shining and wicket getting dry wicket will turn and grip.

Spin will be weakness for New Zealand both when they bowl and bat against quality Indian spinners. India is favorite to win the match. The key to New Zealand success would be removing top three Indian batsmen Rohit, Rahul and Kohli early and put pressure on suspect Indian middle order. New Zealand would definitely leave nothing unturned.

Australia Vs England Will Have Early Ashes on Show Yet Again

Defending Champion Australia is on its HEXA mission. England has the best opportunity of redeeming pride. Championship remained a fat lady for them so far. This was the encounter reigning champion Australia was desperate to avoid before the final.

England v Afghanistan - ICC Cricket World Cup - Group Stage - Old Trafford

They could do that if South Africa did not pack the punch in the last match winning against them… Australia has already beaten England in this world cup. But then home team and top of ICC ranking England would not let Australia easy going at all.

Australia had a rude shock losing the service of inform batsman Usman Khawaja through hamstring injury. Shaun Marsh was also ruled out. Peter Handscomb may need to bat at three or five. Australian batting heavily rely on blaster openers Aaron Flinch and David Warner.

Steve Smith has to step into his top gear if Australia has to absorb the quality fast bowling attack of Archer, Wood, Woakes and Plunket. Australia like their symbol Kangaroo can have their tail wagging whenever required. Fortunately Carey, Stoinis, Coulter Nile and Cummins put up their hands if situation demands.

In bowling Starc in his brilliant best, Cummins is nearing that. Behrendorff is bowling consistently well .But against England I have a feeling that Nathan Lyon will be the key. Australia is very agile and smart in the field. Batsmen takes singles and convert one to two clinically.

They field well all being super fit top athletes. England is the inform team getting back their momentum after few hiccups .Pakistan and Sri Lanka tormented them. They could be viewing the semi finals from the gallery if India went all out to overhaul the target they set.

But any way England is back in winning mode and all grab the opportunity for winning semi final and earn a date for yet another final at Lords. England has not won any.

The top six batsmen Bairstow, Joy, Root, Morgan, Buttler and Stokes can bat any team out of the game when on song. Admittedly it won’t be easy against quality Australian bowling. Even Moeen Ali, Woakes, Archer, Rashid can bat.

It is expected that that this match will be a high scoring contest. It is a 50:50 any body’s game. But given the experience of winning matches in important time in World Cup would predict an Australian win.
If fortune tellers read correctly Lords would witness Australia meeting India in the final.

History would be rewritten if Australia comes out with flying colors in its HEXA mission which Brazil is trying for a while in Soccer World Cup. If India wins it will be their third. But come on do not right off England or New Zealand. Cricket is a funny game. It is a game of glorious uncertainty.

Saleque Sufi

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