An out-of-the-box World Cup – Frontline

It would take an amazing effort to forestall Australia from retaining the World Cup. With a rampant Sachin Tendulkar on the helm, India appears greatest positioned to dethrone the 1999 champions; however, ought to it attain the semi-finals, New Zealand is greater than able to springing a shock.

IT has been billed as the largest and greatest World Cup to this point. At first of the occasion, a number of possible contenders emerged and the event appeared large open. The format and the factors system have been devised in such a fashion that groups would have a robust incentive to win each match and it was believed that the aggressive depth could be sustained via your entire event. However someplace alongside the way in which, the script went somewhat improper.

Javagal Srinath celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka’s Jehan Mubarak through the Tremendous Six match between India and Sri Lanka in Johannesburg, South Africa, on March 10. Srinath, who struck twice in his first over, took 4 wickets within the match.-AMAN SHARMA/AP

After an intriguing preliminary stage, the place the destiny of many groups hung within the steadiness till the final match, the Tremendous Six stage of the event has virtually been anti-climatic. Forfeits and the interference of rain helped Zimbabwe and Kenya progress into the Tremendous Six stage and despatched West Indies, South Africa, England and Pakistan packing early, taking the sheen off the second stage. A significant disappointment has been the truth that among the semi-finalists will probably be recognized effectively earlier than the Tremendous Six stage is accomplished. Coming into the second stage, Australia was required to win just one Tremendous Six sport to ensure itself a semi-final berth however extra absurdly there’s a theoretical risk that Kenya could enter the following section with out successful a single Tremendous Six match.

When Frontline went to print, 4 Tremendous Six matches had been accomplished. A century from Ricky Ponting and an attacking 99 off 88 balls by Adam Gilchrist helped Australia outclass Sri Lanka and within the course of assured their group a spot within the semi-finals. Kenya threatened to show the tables on India earlier than a preventing century from Sourav Ganguly and an attacking 58 from Yuvraj Singh saved their group the blushes. Powered by a 153-run opening partnership between Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag and devastating spells of quick bowling from Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, India thrashed Sri Lanka by 183 runs and sealed its place within the semi-finals.

Sri Lanka should win its ultimate Tremendous Six sport towards Zimbabwe to maintain any hopes alive. Hindered by the factors it misplaced after refusing to play Kenya in Nairobi, New Zealand scraped via to the Tremendous Sixes in a dramatic vogue, aided by South Africa’s incomprehensible error in deciphering the Duckworth-Lewis tables.

Nathan Astle and Chris Cairns starred in New Zealand’s comfy six-wicket win over Zimbabwe. Stephen Fleming’s group could ultimately be damage by the shortage of factors it has carried ahead from the primary spherical of the occasion. New Zealand should win a minimum of considered one of its remaining matches (towards Australia and India) to maintain any hopes alive however two wins will be sure that the Kiwis are via.

Kenya will probably be hard-pressed to win a Tremendous Six sport however it might not have to.

Having carried ahead 10 factors from the primary stage, a theoretical risk exists the place Kenya may nonetheless make the penultimate stage of the event with out successful a single Tremendous Six sport. Zimbabwe was within the worst place getting into the Tremendous Six and reaching the semi-finals will probably be a tall order.

At this juncture, solely 4 groups (Australia, India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka) seem like contenders, although Sri Lanka has been on a gentle slide. On kind, Australia and India have an edge. Australia stays the overwhelming favorite however some really feel that India could be very able to difficult the champions. As of March 10, Australia has gained a file 13 straight one-day video games and, barring the match towards England the place Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel saved the day, Australia has hardly been pushed. Particularly, Australia has not been put beneath a lot strain in a run-chase and this might be the realm the place the Aussies may falter. The best complete that Australians have chased to this point is 247 (towards Zimbabwe).

To beat Australia, different groups, significantly India, will probably be hoping to bat first and publish a considerable complete. The final group to defeat the Aussies was Sri Lanka (within the VB collection in January) and Sanath Jayasuriya’s males adopted this plan to a T – they put up 343 runs and went about defending it.

Not like India the place Sachin Tendulkar and, to a lesser extent, Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid, have been standouts, Australia has had key batting contributions from many gamers, together with Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Michael Bevan, Damien Martyn and Darren Lehmann. The highest of Australia’s line-up poses the primary batting risk. Gilchrist, Ponting and Hayden are a deadly trio on the high of the order. Australia’s middle-order appears comparatively vulnerable as compared.

To win, opponents will by some means must get the higher of Australia’s potent bowling assault. Glenn McGrath has been constant however opposing groups could have obtained some aid after Jason Gillespie’s exit from the World Cup after he sustained an harm. The extraordinarily proficient however oft-injured Gillespie bowled with terrific tempo and variation within the matches he performed. Andy Bichel, his alternative a testomony to Australia’s very good bench energy, has had enviable returns to this point. Brad Hogg has crammed Shane Warne’s footwear commendably and gives Australia with one other attacking possibility. The Aussie bowling assault is relentless and it’s crucial that opposing groups make the utmost use of the overs bowled by the fifth bowler, whose duties are shared by Lehmann, Symonds and Harvey.

It’s a tribute to Australia’s professionalism and internal drive that it’s but to point out any indicators of complacency. To beat the Aussies, different groups have to be at their best. Australia won’t be crushed if others get right into a mindset of containment or circumspection. The important thing to beating the world champions could be to assault from the very begin and Sachin Tendulkar appears to be probably the most able to taking the sport away from the Australians. The Australians will probably be exhausting nuts to crack however Tendulkar’s awe-inspiring kind within the World Cup so far has raised expectations. The shape and contributions of Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid have been of immense significance and Ganguly’s return to kind towards Kenya and Sri Lanka is heartening.

After flattering to deceive usually, Virender Sehwag got here good towards Sri Lanka however he’ll should be constant. Dinesh Mongia has appeared all at sea and is trigger for concern. The most important check for the Indian batting line-up could come if Tendulkar fails in essential video games.

Australia’s captain Ricky Ponting hits a six towards Sri Lanka in Centurion, South Africa, on March 7, 2003, of their first match within the Tremendous Six stage.-DAVID GRAY/REUTERS

Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan have been glorious. Srinath’s contribution has been invaluable and he appears to be bowling higher than ever earlier than. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble haven’t impressed.

Mongia, Sehwag, Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh have shared fifth bowler duties however that is the largest chink within the Indian aspect. India can not count on an excessive amount of of them however it will likely be hoping for a fast return to kind for Harbhajan or Kumble. Primarily based on latest kind, there doesn’t appear to be a lot to decide on between the 2, however Harbhajan is clearly the extra attacking, a high quality that will probably be in demand towards Australia.

Indian fielding has ably supported its bowlers, besides towards Kenya, when the fielding effort urged complacency. If Tendulkar fires on the high and if two or three different batsmen and a strong total bowling and fielding effort can help him, a win towards Australia doesn’t appear past India’s attain.

Sri Lanka suffered humiliating losses to India and Australia and it doesn’t seem to have the depth or class to hassle sides like these. Sanath Jayasuriya is the largest risk within the Sri Lankan batting line-up however he will probably be hampered by accidents sustained towards Australia. He has obtained good help from Marvan Attapatu and Aravinda de Silva in latest matches however the remainder of the batsmen have had a really forgettable time on the crease. A very out of shape Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkarra are main considerations.

Sri Lanka’s bowling assault is probably affected by a better lack of depth. Chaminda Vaas has been excellent, besides towards Australia and South Africa, however has obtained little help from Pulasthi Gunaratne, Dilhara Fernando and Prabath Nissanka. Although he’s an ever-present risk, Muttiah Muralitharan has not been in high kind as his wicket tally signifies. Sri Lanka has relied closely on its part-time bowlers (Aravinda de Silva, Jayasuriya and Russel Arnold) however they are going to have their arms full towards Australia. The plain weak point within the Sri Lankan bowling is that different groups appear to have the choice of enjoying out Murali’s and Vaas’ overs and may goal the opposite bowlers.

New Zealand wanted a fair proportion of luck to succeed in the second stage of the event however has been enjoying good cricket and, like India, appears to be peaking on the proper stage. Whereas New Zealand’s activity of attending to the semi-finals is tough, the Kiwis are a particular risk in the event that they get there. New Zealand is an environment friendly outfit, which is led excellently by Stephen Fleming. One-day wins towards Australia in 2001-2002 and India in 2002-2003 have made the group imagine that it’s able to beating the very best. Scott Styris has been the discover of the event for the Kiwis and has carried out excellently with the bat and, to a lesser extent, with the ball. Stephen Fleming has struck a wealthy vein of kind and Nathan Astle and Chris Cairns have lately proven encouraging indicators. Andre Adams has impressed together with his shot-making means within the demise.

New Zealand may even take consolation in the truth that it bats until quantity 9 or ten. New Zealand’s batting will probably be severely examined when chasing. If the batting holds up, it will likely be a barometer of the group’s prospects.

Though he has not reaped wealthy rewards to this point, Shane Bond is a possible match-winner. Daniel Vettori has proven himself extraordinarily able to slowing down the tempo of the sport if issues get out of hand and gives the much-needed selection. The Kiwi all-rounders lack bowling fire-power and the unlikely Zimbabwean batting mixture of Heath Streak and Sean Ervine demonstrated this chink most successfully. They plundered 77 runs off the final 5 overs in Zimbabwe’s latest Tremendous Six conflict towards the Kiwis.

Ought to New Zealand attain the semi-finals and meet India or Australia, it will likely be a harmful aspect. South Africa’s inexplicable error in studying the Duckworth-Lewis tables has offered a life-line for the Kiwis, who will probably be seeking to exploit the state of affairs to the utmost.

It would take an amazing effort to forestall Australia from changing into the primary back-to-back champions for the reason that West Indies in 1975 and 1979. With a rampant Tendulkar on the helm, India appears greatest positioned at current to dethrone the 1999 champions however, if it fights its method into the semi-finals, New Zealand is kind of able to upsetting India and Australia’s apple-cart.

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