Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Preview - Part 2

South Africa

There is never a debate about South Africa making it to the playoffs. The question is where/when they will choke? Can they get past the demon and emerge winner in this edition is the surprise left.

As far as the combination goes, they are simply terrific. Amla, DeKock, DuPlessis, DeVilliers, Duminy, Miller, Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir makes them a wonderful side. Tahir can be touch expensive, but then the big grounds of Australia should do its bit to help him among wickets. Surely a Jacques Kallis in the lineup, could have delivered that final punch. But then the World is probably gearing up for next generation of cricketers and this WC could be the start of a new fairy tale stories.

SA is positioned in Pool B alongside India, West Indies, Pakistan, UAE, Ireland and Zimbabwe. South Africa is expected to top the group and most likely face England/Sri Lanka in the QF. Another day, England or Sri Lanka is walk over for SA, but then in WC with the strong chokers tag, it is anybody’s guess when SA takes on any team in play off stage. South Africa would prefer to play Sri Lanka in QF for a spot in SF. I punt South Africa to make it to SF. 

New Zealand

New Zealand has not disappointed (if you set your expectations correct) in WC outings. 75, 79, 92, 99, 2007, 2011 they made it to the SF. 96 and 2003 they exited in QF. Probably the 92 version is the only version they looked real threat to win the trophy after England. However, Pakistan ended up winning the edition was the ultimate climax. 

This Kiwi squad is looking good on paper for a spot in SF. McCullum and Williamson has hit a purple patch. Taylor at 4 and finishers like Anderson and Ronchi should make a decent combination. It would have been good if New Zealand retained Jimmy Neesham in the squad. Southee, Boult, Mclenghan, Milne are looking fantastic pace quartet. I’m sure 3 will certainly feature in the XI at any time.

New Zealand is positioned alongside Australia, England, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Scotland in Pool A. New Zealand is expected to finish second in the Pool. So they will most likely take on Pakistan/West Indies in the QF. WI without Pollard and Bravo is certainly a weak unit. If it is Pakistan, New Zealand would like to settle scores for the 92 debacle. All in all New Zealand should roll into SF comfortably.

West Indies

With Bravo and Pollard out of the World Cup, I certainly have no hopes in this side. The board should have realized the importance of participating in a global event. What fun if you don’t send your best side to an event of this magnitude?

West Indies should make it to QF. Gayle storm and some good outings from Samuels is all I’m looking forward to.


They have been a dark horse in any cricket tournament. It is difficult to predict who performs when and at what time. From nowhere, Pakistan keeps producing match winners. Again there is no doubt they will make it to QF stage. Beyond QF, I doubt this team making any inroads.

Ahmad Shezad, Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, Afridi are the players I’m personally looking forward to. It would have been terrific if Pakistan featured Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal. It is Shame to see both these players missing out. We know the reasons as why they miss out. Wasim Akram yesterday on commentary against England (warm up) felt that Pakistan missed out Sohail Tanvir, Safraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik. I’m sure he knows better about their resources. But Pakistan Vs New Zealand QF should be very exciting. But kiwis will settle score in that case. 

Sri Lanka

There is a nice balance of youth and experience. Sangakara, Jayarwardane, Dilshan, Malinga, Herath. And then there is Mendis, Chandimal, Thirumanne, Kulasekara, Senanayake. This is a classic unit to play cricket in sub-continent. Outside the sub-continent, no hope.

Generally, they have been a good side since 1996 WC. Not this time.


England is my dark horse of this tournament. Their bowling unit looks settled with Anderson, Broad, Finn, Tredwell, Jordon. It is the question of the batting talents coming to party. Morgan, Moeen Ali, Root, Bell, Hales, Ballance, Bopara are all good talents for sure. Surely inclusion of Kevin Pieterson, Cook and Greame Swann could have made England a side to beat. Well, there is no point discussing what is not there.

We just have to hope that players like Gary Ballance, Alex Hales, Bopara rise to the occasion. Looking forward to Root show this WC.

If India finish 2 and England finish 3, England has better odds of making it to the SF. But then, it will hit ICC's revenue bucket big time if India miss out in QF. 


 “Save your best for the last”. Australia is undoubtedly the best side of this WC. One would truly envy the composition of this side. Warner, Finch, Watson, Smith, Clarke/Bailey, Maxwell, Haddin, Johnson, Faulkner, Hasselwood,  Cummins, Marsh, Doherty, Starc.

This is the best that money can buy you. During the previous edition of WC, India broke the jinx by winning the WC, despite being a host. So the jinx is already broken.

I personally don’t see or a need for Australia to play Smith, Clarke and Bailey in the same side. Smith is easily better than the other two in the list. The management is left to choose between Clarke and Bailey in the XI. Personally, I've never felt Clarke as a great one day cricketer. I would like to go Bailey way. But then, I've no idea how Australia think tank look at this problem. Their spin department is probably little weak. I think it should not be huge deal as the World Cup is not played in sub-continent.

Anyways, this appears to be Australia’s World Cup. An Australia – South Africa finals should be a fitting World Cup finale. If there is one side that is well equipped to challenge Australia in all departments, it is South Africa. Also history says, Australia – South Africa produce great cricket contests. If that happens, I will be rooting for South Africa to break the jinx.

PS: About minnows, oh yeah, there will be an odd upset here and there. But no way any minnow is making it to the play offs. ICC learnt their lessons from 2007 WC. 2011 was only a prelude to the current format.


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