The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is nearing its business end. Three teams have already reached the semis – India, South Africa and Australia. For India, the win was more or less expected considering how well they had played leading up to that particular game. However, for South Africa it was a bigger victory of sorts considering it was the first game they won in the knockout stage of the World Cup. To think that the win came at Sydney – the very ground where they lost their first semifinal in a World Cup to England because of a ridiculous rain rule – would have added a sense of history and also exorcised several ghosts of previous tournaments.
What would have further pleased South Africa was that their backup bowlers performed well. This is a major problem area but at least Duminy’s hat-trick would have given them some hope in that department. As far as the discussion on which last team will be making it to the semifinals, let us take a brief look at the chances of each remaining team in the fray:
New Zealand: They are the form team of the tournament. They have been bowling out teams with ludicrous regularity and their top order has been among the runs. The team is obviously one of the leading fielding sides in the world. One problem area would be the middle order batting that is yet to be properly tested. However, the team has sufficient depth to deal with any possible crises and as of now look firm favourites to get to yet another home semifinal after 1992.
West Indies: Probably the weakest among all the teams playing in the quarters, much will depend on how well Gayle, Ramdin and Llendl Simmons perform with the bat. Sammy and Russell will also need to provide the late order impetus. With the ball Holder and Taylor will be important as will be Russell. Even if we take into consideration the uncertainties of cricket, it seems that there is very little chance of West Indies winning.
What Would Happen in the Semis?
As things stand now, the semifinal lineup will most probably be South Africa playing New Zealand at Auckland. And, by virtue of their respective wins, India will play Australia at Sydney. In the first instance, the Kiwis look to be the better bet thanks to their superior bowling, knowledge of home conditions and recent track record. South Africa, though, will be really pumped up having won the quarterfinal the way it did and will be looking for an encore.
In the second case, it will be a close game like the first one but one feels Australia holds a little edge over India because of its recent victories. However, considering that the game will be played in Sydney, the Indian attack with its spinners might perform better than the Aussies.
In all probability, Australia and New Zealand look to be the possible finalists with India a close third owing to the quality in the team as well as in performances.