The Cricket World Cup has reached the knock out phase and after the quarter finals Australia, South Africa, India and New Zealand have made it through to the final four!
To be honest I think most people would have said at the start of the tournament that these were the four teams who would make the semi-finals and given how they dominated their respective quarter final opponents the favouritism that has vested in these teams has been well founded it would seem.
Here are some initial thoughts on the coming semi finals:
New Zealand v South Africa (Eden Park)
Home ground advantage vests in the Black Caps, as it has the whole tournament, and one expects that they will be backed by yet another delerious crowd. Both sides have much to prove in this fixture given that both of them have been regular “bridesmaids rather than the bride” in the Cricket World Cup in the past. For two teams who have some of the most explosive batting in the tournament in their line ups it is strange to say but I think this game will come down to the respective bowling units of each on what is a postage sized ground in Auckland. Boult v Steyn, Southee v Morkel, Vettori v Tahir are all match ups that make the mouth water.
I am going to stick with the home team in this game: I tipped at the start of the tournament that they would win the tournament and nothing has changed after their performance in the quarter final.
Australia v India (Sydney Cricket Ground)
These teams have played so much this summer that they must be getting sick of each other by now! The crowd at the SCG will be heaving but one wonders whether Cricket Australia is worried it will be an Indian supporting crowd given the sudden “Wear Gold” campaign that has popped since Friday night’s victory. The batting line-ups, again, of the two teams appear to be evenly matched. It is in the bowling that the key differences appear. Mitchell Starc is head and shoulders the best fast bowler in this game. On the other side of the ledger are two excellent spinners in Ashwin and Jadeja. The premier bowlers being so different the pitch could effect the outcome of this game.
This fixture is very hard for me to pick. My heart says Australia but my head is leaning towards India. I might reserve the right to hold judgment at this stage until just before game time when the pitch has been reviewed.
I can not wait for these two fixtures: they will be much closer than the quarter finals and one expects that the cricket will only get better!