Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Final Prediction

Finally, after a month and a half, we are on the cusp of crowning a new ODI champion. The World Cup finalists are the two co-hosts, Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand were lucky to get through their semi final. It was the first time their all out attack policy was looking to backfire. They had used up all their premier bowlers, and South Africa still had enough wickets and overs left to launch their own batting attack. While 350 was always on the cards from then on, I would not have been surprised had they made 400. Batting first, lots of wickets, no pressure - you get that target easily - as South Africa has already done twice this World Cup.

And then came the rain - South Africa's nemesis in knock out games - and knocked off 7 important overs that South Africa was looking to accelerate in. They still set New Zealand a stiff target, a stiff target in a short chase is easier than a stiffer target in a longer chase. And the rest was history as New Zealand held on to their nerves just a wee bit better than the South Africans.

Australia, on the other hand, had an easier semi final. India chocked and collapsed while chasing a stiff target, just like Bangladesh had in their quarter final against India. Australia had the relatively easier group as well, beating the likes of England and Sri Lanka easily (although up until Chandimal's cramps, Sri Lanka were remarkably in the game chasing 370). There was only one game they lost - coincidentally to New Zealand - and it's this game that will give New Zealand some confidence going into the final.

Everything, every card, speaks against New Zealand. The final is in Australia, at the vast MCG, and Australia are simply the boss of their home situations. They have an awesome batting line up that bats deep, with X factor players such as Maxwell, and a fearsome bowling line up that features Mitchell Starc as one of the leading wicket takers of the tournament.

Yet the same could be said of the New Zealand team. They have an awesome batting line up that bats deep, with X factor players such as McCallum (leading from the top), and a fearsome bowling line up that features Trent Boult as one of the leading wicket takers of the tournament. They also have one thing Australia doesn't have - a quality spinner in Vettori.

It would be a fitting finale between two teams that really are evenly split. I am going to give the prediction to New Zealand - simply because it's time for them to win. And I think they can do it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Semi Final Predictions

Only one match remains between four teams and the World Cup final. The best four teams are in the semi finals, and each match remains too close to call. Before going into the semi final predictions, let's see how I did with the quarter final predictions.

Sri Lanka vs. South Africa
This one was a complete surprise as Sri Lanka did not even put up a fight. Just like the final four years ago, Sri Lanka show up to a knock out game and try to change things that worked for them throughout. What was the need to change their opening combination? And why did they try to go for pinch hitting at the top of the order when every team has tried to block and preserve wickets initially this world cup? We'll never know now, as South Africa simply walked over them while Sri Lanka chocked. In effect, they pulled a South Africa ... on South Africa.

Bangladesh vs. India
This game will always be known for the crucial umpiring errors that ALL went in favour of India at crucial moments of the game; the most famous of them being the no-ball-that-wasn't called. At that time India was well under the cosh, being bullied by Bangladesh and denied the runs, and then Rohit Sharma got caught. Alas! The umpire called a no-ball when it clearly wasn't. Raina was later not given LBW by the slimmest of margins. And finally, Bangladesh's in form batsman, Mahmudullah was declared out when it was a six, caught at the boundary. India was the stronger team and deserved to win, but their victory will always have a huge question mark.

Pakistan vs. Australia
We'll never know what could have happened had Rahat not dropped Watson off Wahab Riaz, but Pakistan was always against it when their batsmen flopped (again).

New Zealand vs. West Indies
Another game that went according to form. Poor West Indies!


New Zealand vs. South Africa
This game is too close to call. New Zealand has the best opening bowlers, but South Africa has capable top order batsmen, led by Amla. South Africa has no proper fifth bowler, but New Zealand doesn't have a McCallum down the order. New Zealand has never gone past the semi final stage, but neither has South Africa. I have a feeling South Africa will win - it just seems to be their year.

India vs. Australia
I am going to go out on a limb here and say India will win. The bowlers are good on either side, but India has the advantage in batting. They have batsmen who can build an innings and then explode, whereas most of Australia's batsmen, Clarke and Steven Smith notwithstanding, are one dimensional. India also has the edge in the spin department. Overall, advantage India, but again too close to call.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Quarter Final Predictions

So more than a month ago I made some predictions regarding the current 2015 Cricket World Cup. Let's see how I did before I analyze the quarter finals.


The most obvious mistake in my prediction was that Bangladesh performed well above expectations. I have no qualms saying I did not mind being wrong at all ( :-D ) in this case. As a Bangladeshi fan whose team had a annus horriblis in 2014, such was the low confidence in the team that they even managed to lose to Ireland in the warm ups. Yet, when it was time to perform, they delivered, and knocked out England.

I had Australia to top the group followed by New Zealand, and this was reversed due to a game of Australia being rained out and them losing to New Zealand by 1 wicket. Sri Lanka came third as expected, and England crashed out.


I fully expect Pakistan to beat South Africa - this is what I said, and it happened. Only if they had picked Sarfraz earlier. I was dumbfounded when they made Umar Akmal a keeper and benched Sarfraz, their most dynamic and game changing player.

West Indies should make the fourth playoff position, but barely - this is what I also said, and it's also true. Tough luck to Ireland, who deserved to be in the quarters, but their heavy loss in one match (vs. South Africa) came back to haunt them.

Of course what I did not see is the emergence of India as the team to beat and the team in form. The previous tri-series leading into the tournament seemed to have confounded every body.

So now, here's the quarter finals and my predictions.

Sri Lanka vs. South Africa

Sri Lanka has awesome batting (in form) and a threadbare bowling attack coming into this match, but they know how to win the knockout games. South Africa are notorious at choking in the knockouts of the World Cup and have never won such a match. It makes for a fascinating contest.

I expect whoever bats first to have a big advantage. Nevertheless, I am going to pick pedigree over potential and tip Sri Lanka to win this.
Winner: Sri Lanka

India vs. Bangladesh

Can I remain unbiased in this? Of course I want Bangladesh to win. I hope they win. My heart says they will win. But logic dictates, of course, that India will win. What Bangladesh lack is the finishing touch - the one who can come and belt 40 off 18 balls to boost a competitive total to a massive total, or the one bowler who is so miserly no one can take him on. India has batsmen in form, bowlers in form and their fielding has been great too. Every one of their batsman has been in the middle and scored runs. Hard to see Bangladesh repeating a 2007 here.
Winner: India
PS: I hope I am wrong.

Pakistan vs. Australia

This is Pakistan's last game in the world cup. Or so everyone thinks. And everyone is probably right. Pakistan remains a dark horse, and they have unpredictability, and they beat South Africa, and their bowlers are in form ... yes to all of that, but this is Australia in Australia. And Australia is in form, and they have awesome batting AND bowling. Sometimes unpredictability and emotion can only take you so far.
Winner: Australia

West Indies vs. New Zealand
This really should have been Ireland vs. New Zealand but somehow the Windies made it. And they will go home after this. You don't even need any analysis to back this up - New Zealand is a far better team than Windies and they have experience in winning knockouts and they are in form.
Winner: New Zealand

So there you go. The semi-final line ups should be:

India vs. Australia
New Zealand vs. Sri Lanka