Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A few thoughts on the contenders

Best Blog Tips

 The first spark in the world cup was undoubtedly Imran Tahir. He seemed to be that X-factor that South Africa have never had and to me for a brief time South Africa  looked like genuine contenders. Then they failed to chase 170 against England and things seemed depressingly the same for South Africa.And now Imran Tahir fractured his thumb. South Africa have seemed less and less appetizing as the tournament has progressed. Kallis is not in form and they don't have a real wicket keeper. The way Kamran Akmal has derailed Pakistan's chances, it is very likely South Africa will learn the same lesson. The wisdom of dropping Mark Boucher is lost on me. The loss to England is bound to have a bigger impact on their self confidence.

First, there was allegations of match fixing against Mahela Jayawardhane in the local media, then the failed dope test rumors against Dilshan. Sri Lanka have had a start-stop journey so far. Their game against Australia was shaping up to be a promising contest until rain cut it short. Australia, unlike Australia are lying low. Considering these two played the last final; its a pity that even after 3 weeks we haven't seen much of either team and the head-to-head game was abandoned.

England have done more than their fair share of generating excitement. They have helped the minnows in both their games to gain public sympathy and sway opinion for inclusion in the 2015 World Cup. They have managed to come back and tie a game they should have first lost and then won; both comfortably. And in their most recent game they conjured up an unlikely comeback in defending a small target. No one really knows where England is going. Its a team with batting might and more than adequate bowling skills but they look visibly tired.  Pietersen and Broad will play no further part in the tournament and it is a testament to the depth of their talent that their replacements are likely to make England more strong and more importantly inject some freshness. England can make a lot out of their win against South Africa, it could emerge as the turning point in their campaign and could go down in World Cup history as England's version of India's 17-5 game against Zimbabwe in 1983

New Zealand is a team that loves "context". Give them an Australia or a tough Test series in India and they will rise well above their perceived potential. Give them a meaningless 5 ODI series against Bangladesh and they will refuse to show up. They have always performed at major events and if you ignore their game against Australia, their campaign has been gaining serious momentum in this one too. If Ross Taylor can unleash the beast he hides in him often and Ryder and McCullum find form; New Zealand can bully their way deep into the tournament and cause a few upsets. Perhaps go all the way; if Vettori recovers. They are my pick for the "dark horse".

India's, campaign has been frustratingly sluggish. They have neither chased with confidence nor defended 300+ scores with any authority. The team seems to be on a different planet than the rest of its supporters. They seem to understand a different logic. They appear detached and trying hard to not let pressure get to them. They look like a team suffering side effects of anti-depressants. Their best moment so far has been the way they clawed their way back to tie the game against England. Perhaps there isn't much to worry. Pushed to the wall they might come out of their spell and win it all. Its just a hope.

No team has infuriated me like Pakistan. My bet is that mathematicians will solve the Riemann hypothesis sooner than the cricket world figuring out why Kamran Akmal is undroppable. Pakistan played admirably to win against Sri Lanka and then went limp half way into the game with New Zealand. They are decent opening stands and some common sense away from being seriously dangerous.


Leela said...

They look like a team suffering side effects of anti-depressants.

That explains it.

straight point said...

i wonder how you able to sense that new zealand loves context and fails to spot the same for home team... india...

if any team that loves context more than others in this world... it is india... easily explains our performances against minnows (and not only in this world cup)... let the big matches start from south africa onwards and we get talking... :)

Golandaaz said...

1975 and 36* - Explain that

Golandaaz said...


Thanks for stopping by...Don't they look drugged..

straight point said...

gol... as if nz has never lost a 'context' match... :)

Golandaaz said...


Of course they have but NZ's consistency at the world cup, traditionally, irrespective of their form going in is far above India.

Govind Raj said...

I appreciate the piece. Good as usual. But I agree with SP that India are traditionally not minnow bashers. They struggled against Kenya, Holland etc during 2003 campaign. But beat the daylights out of all other teams except Australia.

But we also had our best bowling attack in living memory then. Anil Kumble was benched and it didn't hurt until the finals.

This WC will be a battle of batting might. There might be slow pitches. There might be hiccups and there might be manufactured panic. But India do have it in them to do well against the best teams. The difference will be the Top-3. Somehow Viru thinks it is below his dignity to maul the minnows. Sachin isn't Ganguly who feasted on weaker teams in the later part of his career. Gautam is close on the heals of Viru when it comes to his liking for bigger teams.

So, even though I have my doubts about India's chances, it isn't as bad as we have come to worry about. I am now convinced about this after how Pakistan, Saffers and Sri Lanka have fared so far !

Golandaaz said...


My comment on NZ thriving on context was not meant to say that India or any other team don't.

What I have observed about NZ is that they raise their game in WCs and ICC events more than any other team I can think of.

On India's performances against minnows. I agree we are not known to finish them off like Australia does. To a large extent India too bring their A game against quality opponents; no denying that.

Anonymous said...

Oz and SL look like the best bets to me to reach the final. SA and Pak could also make it. India, England and NZ have far too significant weaknesses to go past the semis.

Having said all that, anything is possible... the gap between the teams is not massive. The toss and pitch conditions will also have their say.