Today in World Cup cricket the 24th match was played, that takes us to just past mid-way of the group matches (total being 42). There are 14 teams which have 10 test playing nations and 4 from the associations and at this stage there are only two teams who look somewhat formidable in this stage. Let us start with Group A.
Pakistan looks quite good sitting at the top of the table winning all the three matches and two of them against the minnows, but their performance against the Sub-continent side Sri Lanka was impressive – and that was not expected. However, Australia who lost one against India in the pre-cup games, is doing quite well winning 2 out of 2 but not against top sides. Their first test of the cup was against Sri Lanka, but then it was washed out. So their only next test before they get into Quarter finals will be against Pakistan late in the schedule. Until that happens no one knows where Australia will be. New Zealand seems to be doing average and most probably will qualify given Zimbabwe, Canada or Kenya wont be able to win against the Kiwis.
This is a more interesting group. Let me start in a very interesting way. India beat Ireland, Ireland beat England, England beat South Africa and South Africa beat West Indies. This does not mean that India is doing best. It simply means that this is a very open group at this point. Ireland is a surprise package, only if they would have beaten Bangladesh they had a good chance of qualify into Quarterfinals. South Africa was doing very well until they ran into spinners from England on a turning pitch. That showed how can they not play spin well. England lost to Ireland and was a surprise win over South Africa; but overall their bowling have been dis-appointing where they gave more than 290 runs in more than 2 occasions and two times it was against Ireland and Netherlands; India was the third occasion. India has not been doing very well either. Their decision to include Piyush Chawla over Pragyan Ojha or Ashwin came back to haunt them against England where he gave away 3 sixesin the penultimate over and India ended up with a draw where they could have won. And then against Ireland he was most expensive giving a boundary in every over he bowled. But, India’s consolation is their batting looks like holding up very well , they are not cracking under pressure. Yuvraj is back in form and so is Sehwag and Tendulkar and Kohli. India’s next big test will be in last 2 group matches against West Indies and South Africa.
For me from Group A, Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand will qualify. And from Group B it will be India, South Africa, England and West Indies. However, I do not have a prediction of who will move to the semi-finals yet. Maybe after another 2 weeks when some of the giants have faced each other is when I can make up my mind.