Dhawal Shah | March 15, 2015
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you may have read, watched or heard about the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 from a friend, especially if they’re from the Indian subcontinent – where the game is most popular. This is the 50-over ODI (one-day international) bonanza that began on Valentine’s Day 2015 (apt since it is the first love of many a fan) and will determine bragging rights for fans for the next four years – somewhat similar to the FIFA World Cup (but on a smaller scale) come 29th March 2015.
If you’re wondering why this article is coming in the middle of the Cricket World Cup 2015 rather than at the end of it, you may want to read the title of this article again! With the dust on the group stages having finally settled, it is now time for the knockouts with the quarterfinals. The cricket gets really interesting now and we’re here to assess the teams and give our prediction for the World Cup – so read on (and leave us your dissenting comments below – I expect a lot of disagreements).
This is probably the toughest match to call amongst the quarterfinals. Let’s take a look at their head-to-head statistics in ODIs.
,Sri Lanka Win,South Africa Win, No Result/Draw, Total
In World Cups,1,2,1,4
Sri Lanka has history on their side, having won the World Cup once (1996) and reaching the finals in the past two World Cups (2007, 2011). They have a relatively stable and experienced team, with Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardane probably playing their last World Cups. Sangakkara has been carrying the team on his shoulders, having top scored in the Cricket World Cup 2015 during the group stages with 496 runs at an average of 124. In Lasith Malinga, they have one of the best death bowlers who the team can always turn to. Despite these players, they finished 3rd out of the 4 qualifying teams from Pool A – losing to both New Zealand and Australia – and have yet to properly click as a unit.
South Africa, on the other hand, have perennially been labeled as ‘chokers’. Their most famous choke was the semi-finals in 1999 in England against Australia and they have never even been in any finals before despite always fielding a strong team. However, this World Cup, they have players in scintillating form with AB de Villiers currently the most destructive batsman in the world and Hashim Amla right behind him in the ODI batsman standings. They qualified second in Pool B despite losing to India and Pakistan and their problem seems to be chasing scores.
I feel South Africa’s team is better going into this quarterfinal, despite losing to both subcontinent teams they’ve played so far. As long as they bat first (when they tend to post huge totals), I back them to qualify for the semi-finals.
There may be a little bias in play here – since I support India (naturally), however, I will try to keep this as objective as possible. Let’s look at their head-to-head statistics thus far.
,India Win,Bangladesh Win, No Result/Draw, Total
In World Cups,1,1,0,2
It is shocking to see that Bangladesh has beaten India in the World Cup (2007) in South Africa. That was probably one of the biggest shocks of that year in the group stages – and this year, Bangladesh shocked everyone again by beating England and claiming the final qualifying spot in Pool A. As abject as England were, Bangladesh always play their game with a sense of belief and they almost pulled off another upset against New Zealand. Mahmudullah Riyad has hit centuries in his past 2 matches. He stabilises the team in the middle order, giving them good platforms to score in the final overs. They are definitely a surprise package and won’t be an easy fight despite their poor showing in the last World Cup against India.
India, on the other hand, have surprised critics everywhere. Having come into the World Cup on the back of massive defeats in the ODI series against Australia, they have managed to comfortably win all their group matches – the only team besides New Zealand to do so. The fact that all their top 6 batsman have really great scores under their belts (with Shikar Dhawan top scoring for them so far), they are the team to beat at the moment with Captain Cool – Mahendra Singh Dhoni – at the helm of 10 straight World Cup victories so far (stretching back from 2011).
I have to give this win to India despite Bangladesh’s ability to pull off an upset. India are the defending World Cup champions and every match they play feels like a home game with the huge and vociferous Indian support. Despite Bangladesh supporters being equally fanatical, it is unlikely they’ll be able to urge their team over the line this time.
This match will be interesting due to its unpredictability. Let’s look at their head-to-head first.
,Australia Win,Pakistan Win, No Result/Draw, Total
In World Cups,4,4,0,8
When you talk about Australia, you have to recall their feat of 3 consecutive World Cup wins (1999, 2003, 2007) and the fact that they have won the World Cup more times than any other team (4 to be exact). The Australian team was in a state of transition in 2011 – but with the current cricket tournament being held in Australia/NZ, they have home advantage. They maintain their winning mentality and are a very strong all-round unit. In David Warner and Andrew Finch, they have an aggressive opening pair, followed by Glen Maxwell much lower down the order with a license to leave no prisoners behind in the final batting overs (he proved this with the fastest, and his first, century in this World Cup so far in 52 balls). They have a strong all-round unit led by returning captain Michael Clarke and they seem to be peaking at the right time, having qualified 2nd in Pool A – losing only to New Zealand in a closely fought low-scoring affair.
Pakistan started the World Cup very sluggishly, with none of their batsmen being able to score. They lost their first 2 matches to India and West Indies and at that point, no one gave them a chance of qualifying for the quarter finals. Since then, they have overcome South Africa and the rest of the associate nations to seal 3rd place in Pool B. This team has a strong bowling unit (as is expected of any Pakistani side) and on their day, they can cause opposition a lot of trouble, but scoring runs has been their problem thus far. People are likening this team to ‘the cornered tigers‘ of 1992 – when Pakistan lost their first few matches but went on to win the World Cup. Although Misbah is no Imran Khan, if he can gel this unit, they have a good chance against Australia.
I have to give this one to Australia, just by their past performance. They’ve been very strong so far, even against New Zealand, when they lost. Their winning mentality should prevail over the fragility of the Pakistani team.
New Zealand and West Indies are both known to be attacking teams and this match-up should prove really interesting for neutrals to watch. Let’s look at their head-to-head statistics.
,New Zealand Win,West Indies Win, No Result/Draw, Total
In World Cups,3,3,0,6
New Zealand have been jaw-droppingly good this World Cup with Brendan McCullum currently the best opening batsman in this cricket tournament. The way McCullum has dominated opposition bowling has been a delight to watch. However, when he gets out without a score – the rest of the team suffers, which is a negative about them. In Daniel Vettori (probably his last World Cup as well), Trent Boult and Tim Southee (best figures of 7/33 against England), they have 3 proven wicket takers who have been delivering for them so far in this World Cup. Unlike the West Indies, the furthest New Zealand has gotten in the Cricket World Cup is the semi-finals though they’re making great use of home ground advantage and are the team to beat so far.
West Indies used to be a cricketing powerhouse. Having won the first 2 World cups (1975, 1979), their last appearance in the finals was in 1983, when they lost to India. Gone are those heydays, and besides some entertaining aggressive batting, no one really rates West Indies as a contender in the World Cups – which may be a mistake. If Chris Gayle gets settled, West Indies will definitely go on to make a huge total, as he proved when scoring 215 against Zimbabwe (first double centurion in World Cups) – and Darren Sammy tends to provide good support down the order. In Jason Holder, they have a young captain who also bowls well. However, they qualified for the quarter finals on the basis of Pakistan beating Ireland and having a better net run rate, which makes them the weakest team after Bangladesh in the quarter finals.
Even if Brendon McCullum does not fire, New Zealand has enough firepower and belief to dispense with the West Indians.
So what are your thoughts on our predictions? Let us know in the comments below!
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