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Sunday, April 08, 2007

World Cup update

The Super 8 stage have woken up now with Bangladesh's win against South Africa. England might feel that they have a good chance to make to the semi-finals. The semi-finalists that was likely before this match was Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, but now that Bangladesh has beaten South Africa, they would have to beat the Kiwis and the English. Mostly, the match between South Africa and England would turn out to be the knockout for the fourth semi-finalist.

Australia has 6 points so far. They next face England, Ireland, Sri Lanka, New Zealand. They dont seem to be in a mood to drop any points now. Whether they have peaked early is a question that critics might ask, but not necessary. Hussey has still not got into any semblance of form so far. Shane Watson is out till the semis stage, which means Hodge gets another chance to score. So far, the Aussies seem to be invincible, with only the Sri Lankans and Kiwis looking capable of giving a fight. Both these teams should ensure that they dont disclose their chief weapons (Muralidharan and Shane Bond respectively) against the Aussies in the Super 8 stage so that they can be used in the final stages of the tournament. It certainly looks like the Aussies have to be surprised by a strategy out of the ordinary. If teams play their normal game, they wouldnt stand a chance. Surely.

New Zealand should rest their key bowler - Shane Bond - for atleast 1 game, before the semi-finals. This is essential to avoid any injuries that have been affecting him throughout his career. As it is, the Kiwis have been seeing many players dropping off their squad - Vincent, Tuffey - and the possible injuries to Franklin (migraine), Gillespie (virus). They have to play both their spinners against the Aussies to get on top.

Sri Lanka has been playing so well that they are not required to call up on Atapattu's huge experience so far. The batting has clicked, though in the match against England the set batsmen through it away. The bowling is looking so varied with Murali, Malinga, Vaas and Fernando doing their bits. Jayasuriya is always there in the background waiting to make his presence felt. The Sri Lankans have the knack to win close matches (though they couldnt do that against the South Africans) should a situation arise.

West Indies seem to have gone down (or back) to old times when there used to be fights within the team, between officials, coach and captain, what not. They are surely out of the semi-finals as far as reality goes - only on paper, they have an outside chance. Brian Lara will join the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly in not enjoying a World Cup win before they retire.

England have done well so far but their bowling is limited and does not give much leeway to the batsmen, who are in form. The absence of strike bowlers is going to impact them in their chase to get a semi-final slot.

Bangladesh and Ireland will definitely improve with their performance in the World Cup. Bangladesh, in fact, with wins over NewZealand (warm-up), India, South Africa would be feeling very confident in their outings against the other test-playing nations in the future.

The Pakistan team has started going back to old times as well, just like the Windies. Though Younis Khan has been appointed the captain, Mohammed Yusuf and Shahid Afridi have put in their hats into the captaincy ring. The coach's position is still open and the Management has announced that they will have a Pakistani as a coach. What will happen to Inzy is still not known? Nor is the status of Bob Woolmer's post-mortem report. Is any cover-up happening in this case? One is not sure.

Greg Chappell has resigned from the Indian scene, though the Management wants to retain him as a Consultant. The coach has not been appointed still, even though two specialist coaches have been appointed (the bowling coach - Venkatesh Prasad, and fielding coach - Robin Singh). The players have had to face the brunt of the actions from the Board, including reduced pay, restrictions on endorsements. The root cause analysis of the performance has not been done and the action done by the Indian Board looks like a set of "popular" steps to rectify the problem, not the necessary ones.
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