No authoritative performances in the league stage
A month after taking a shot at the semi-final line up for the 2011 World Cup
, it is now obvious that that either India or
Australia will make it to the semi-final. That quarter-final will be played 1 day after the 8th anniversary of an inconsequential World Cup game
, the last time these 2 teams met at the World Cup.
The oddest part about the first round was that none of the major teams actually stamped their authority on the league stage. Australia was expected to blow away opponents with their bowling, but the only teams to suffer the wrath of Australia's 'quick gun Murugan'
attack were Zimbabwe & New Zealand. Sri Lanka, Kenya, Canada & Pakistan were largely untroubled. Pakistan outwitted Sri Lanka and Australia, nearly slipped up against Canada and got thrashed by New Zealand. New Zealand got thrashed by Australia and Sri Lanka, but thrashed Pakistan in-turn.
India and England tried their best to give Group B a lot of close games, and looked thoroughly unconvincing. While England did win against #3 ranked South Africa, India's wins came against teams ranked #8 and #9. South Africa were commanding overall, but had a brain fade against England. They've been celebrating the last over win against India as evidence that they've finally got rid of the 'chokers' tag. Sadly though, that win came in an inconsequential game. They will need to do this in a knock-out game to prove that their debutant players don't get the choker tag along with the national cap! West Indies and Bangladesh were generally incompetent but did show some promise.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan did enough to suggest that the best way to catch Australia unawares was on a slow turning wicket. I don't particularly care if Ricky Ponting thinks such wickets are essentially 'rolled mud'
. Since this is an ICC event, and the ICC has control over everything that happens at the ground, I assume that the pitches are prepared by the ICC's team. If that's the case, Ponting can't complain about anything.
If the pitches are prepared by the hosting country's curator(s), then you have to question if that's fair. For a World Cup event, home advantage should be limited to playing in familiar surroundings, getting a lot of crowd support, being able to include replacement players at really short notice, etc.
I don't know if Ponting will be playing during the 2015 World Cup, but I'd be interested to see how he reacts if the Sri Lankan captain says they were playing on a trampoline after seeing balls whiz past their heads at Perth. He wouldn't like it, would he?
As for the semi-final lineup, it does seem from the Australia-New Zealand and New Zealand-Zimbabwe matches at Ahmedabad (venue for Australia v India) that the side batting first can be blown away. Mirpur (Pakistan v West Indies & New Zealand v South Africa) definitely assists spinners. Colombo (Premadasa) also shows that spin will rule. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the semi-final lineup was Australia v Pakistan and South Africa v Sri Lanka.
In other news, Shoaib Akhtar said bye bye to international cricket after a mercurial career that included 100 mph deliveries, drugs, ball tampering, fighting with a teammate, faking injury, etc.
Labels: 2011, 2011 world cup, akhtar, prediction, retire, shoaib akhtar, world cup