Thursday, March 17, 2011

World Cup 2011 - The Final Scramble

So here we are with seven games left of pool play. If we discount two of the smaller games, that leaves five very important matches, important for some because it could mean advancing or heading home in misery, important for others because it will define the final pool standings (and who will get the 'easy games', if you could call them that). Lets take a look at whats at stake in the big five matches:

England vs West Indies
Importance: Very High
England lose, they go home. Do they deserve to go? I would say yes, you cannot turn up to a World Cup and only get up for the big matches. Losing to both Ireland and Bangladesh should mean that you are on your bike. The West Indies on the other hand have points to prove. They have brushed off the minnows, and now need to show the world they are not pretenders against the bigger boys.

Lets not forget the Gayle factor either. © Associated Press

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
Importance: Medium
I mentioned earlier, Sri Lanka is not Pakistan. New Zealand, for incredibly odd reasons, have chosen to rest a mostly healthy Vettori and Mills. I can understand bubble wrapping some players, but surely for a team desperate to hold on to momentum you would want your fittest XI possible? Sri Lanka should get home here with Malinga being the difference.

Bangladesh vs South Africa
Importance: High
Bangladesh's date with destiny. If they win here, they will qualify, which is huge. Their best approach would be to apply a spin based choke, and then hopefully having a target small enough to chase down. Tamim has yet to really fire up, this could be his big game. South Africa on the other hand will be looking to top the table with a win here.

Australia vs Pakistan
Importance: High
Believe it or not, this could be Australia's only real big game before the playoffs, given that rain and inept batting played spoilsport earlier. This is a mouth watering contest between yin and yang, the well drilled and consistent Aussies versus the sublime-or-ridiculous Pakistanis. Impossible to call, but the winner will win huge psychological ground.

India vs West Indies
Importance: Medium
Both teams have more or less qualified, with the West Indies an outside chance of going home early. The real question is, who is the bigger pretender? India's are beginning to creak under their glaring weaknesses, while the West Indies have had flattering results and big players lying dormant. Roach will be key.

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