This article is from Cricbuzz.
By G Rajaraman
There were plenty of records achieved and individual milestones broken during the 42 league games of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. A Chris Gayle double hundred, an AB de Villiers magnum, Kumar Sangakkara's unprecedented four centuries in-a-row, Mitchell Starc's incisive bowling, a New Zealand attack that has held its own against all comers, a pace quartet helping Pakistan paper over cracks.
An attacking Indian bowling unit has surprised by taking 10 wickets in each of the six league games to overshadow a Virat Kohli century against Pakistan, a Shikhar Dhawan special against South Africa as the first of his two hundreds and a Suresh Raina century to bail India out of trouble along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been some of Indias highlights.
England, seeded at the top before the tournament, have gone back home, aware that they won fewer games than Ireland and perhaps with the knowledge that they have a lot of caching up to do with the rest of the world. Ireland's batsmen were left hoping for a bowling attack like Afghanistan's.
Of course, so much happened in the past month and yet all that of has little relevance as eight teams seek to whittle their numbers down to four by the weekend in what is cricket's version of the Russian roulette. Let me stick my neck out and pick the winners of the four games that will be played back-to-back from Wednesday to Saturday.
Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Wednesday, Sydney Cricket Ground: This is a hard one to call, considering the batting strengths of both teams. But, because the track at the SCG tends to favour the side batting first, with the ball doing just that extra bit under lights, it can be said that the toss could well determine the winner. Then again, winning the toss is of little use if the team opting to take first strike does not derive full advantage and post a 300-plus score.
India have the balance and the firepower to get past Bangladesh into a possible semifinal battle with Australia.
India vs Bangladesh, Thursday, Melbourne Cricket Ground: MS Dhoni's team should win this game, despite Bangladesh batsman Mahmudullah's form and the variety in their bowling. India have the balance and the firepower to get past Bangladesh into a possible semifinal battle with Australia. However, if they allow complacency to creep into their countenance, they may pay a price against Bangladesh's enthusiasm that will be powered by a belief that they have little to lose.
Australia vs Pakistan, Friday, Adelaide: The home team can pack too many punches for Pakistan, whose batting is just about beginning to come into its own after the induction of Sarfraz Ahmed at the top of the order. Mitchell Starc has been the most productive bowler in the World Cup so far and can lead the Australian attack even on a sluggish Adelaide Oval track. The match can acquire a competitive edge only if the Pakistan batsmen post a big score for the likes of the deceptively quick Wahab Riaz to defend.
New Zealand vs West Indies, Saturday, Wellington: Brendon McCullum's team have played attractive cricket in the World Cup, winning all six league games. The West Indies, who sneaked through to the quarter-finals ahead of Ireland, do not seem to have got their act together. If Chris Gayle's back holds up and he can fire against New Zealand's swing and seam bowling, West Indies can aspire to put up a fight but their bowling, especially in the death, is a larger worry.
So these then are my quarterfinal picks. I would love to hear arguments backing your own choices.
- Four Asian Teams, Eight Powerhouses
- The Shoaib Akhtar Interview: 'Pakistan Cricket Is Dying'
- Sangakkara, The Voyager, Full Speed Ahead
- Why India's Semi-Final Entry Won't Be A Cakewalk
- The Tigers Have Arrived In Style
- This Is Pakistan, After All
- Why AB De Villiers Deserves To Be In The Pantheon Of Top 10 Batting Legends
- This New Zealand Team Could Go The Distance
- The First Major Upset This World Cup Is About The Tragic Decline Of West Indies
- Why MS Dhoni Is The Best ODI Captain Of This Era