With the result of the fourth quarter final out, the ICC World Cup 2015 is in its final stage now. The quadrennial cricket tournament has now its semi-finalists in which 14 nations participated that are South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. This World Cup has witnessed record centuries, scores, new talents, swing of left arm pacers and some close encounters. Let’s have a look at the semi finalists with their journey, strengths and weaknesses.
1. South Africa
Also called Proteas but popularly known as ‘Chokers’ in World Cups. They have always been a strong side on paper but they fail to perform as per their abilities in big matches. The team started as one of the favorites of the WC 2015 as usual but didn’t perform exceptionally well in the league matches. South Africa lost to India and Pakistan in group stage in which the team failed to impress cricket enthusiasts though it won matches against West Indies and the minnows of the group.
With Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott, South Africa has a great pace attack which matters on the pitches of Australia and New Zealand. The way Imran Tahir has bowled throughout the tournament has added significantly more to the bowling attack of the team. The homogenous batting department of South Africa has class of Hashim Amla, aggression of Quinton De Kock and David Miller and reliability of Faf Du Plessis, JP Duminy and intelligence of skipper AB De Villiers. Only thing that goes wrong with this team that it can’t handle pressure in different situations and that’s why loses patience which causes degradation in the performances of the players.
South Africa showed their top game of the tournament against Sri Lanka in the first quarter final and would be hopeful to continue it against New Zealand in Auckland on 24th March, 2015. It’s going to be a tough fight for Proteas to beat New Zealand in their own den.
Defending Champions, Men in Blue played much better than what their fans would have expected, especially in bowling department as they have bowled out the opposition in every single game of the WC 2015. Must say that tour to Australia before World Cup is providing great aid to the team. Indian players have adapted their playing panache as per the conditions in the continent. India is unbeaten in the tournament so far, started really well by beating arch rivals Pakistan in the very first match and the message was clear after winning against South Africa, “We won’t give it back”.
Mohd. Shami, his name is among the top wicket takers of the tournament and Umesh Yadav have used short balls very effectively to surprise opposition batsmen. Ravichandran Ashwin has done better in the shorter form of game till now, also he is quite good at lower batting order. Best of all, Indian team is not depended on a particular batsman to score runs, every batsman has stood up till now and taken responsibility to guide the scoreboard towards winning total. Fielding by its players has surprised its critics and undoubtedly, this team deserves a seat in semis. Inconsistency in the batting line up may cause any trouble other than that, in my perspective, this team lacks nothing.
Booked the spot in semi-final by beating neighbor Bangladesh. Semi-final against Australia on March 26th, 2015 may be one of the best clash of this tournament as both the teams are at their bests.
Four times champions, Australia seems to be the complete team of the ICC World Cup 2015. Played beautifully in the league matches. Lost one close game against New Zealand which was dominated by bowlers of both the sides. Put the highest total of a World Cup innings on board against Afganistan and scored 300+ runs in most of the matches as if it was their regular job.
The team which has one of the best pace attack of the world with Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell ‘Starc’ has performed brilliantly in all aspects of the game. Mitchell ‘Starc’, the left arm pacer has impressed me the most in this whole tournament. Australia has got most number of all-rounders in their team of eleven players with Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke, Aaron Finch and yes, I’d count Mitchell Johnson too, which is their strength. Australia lacks a quality spinner and that’s where the team lags behind of others.
Probably the deficiency of a quality spinner may cost Australia in the semi-final against India which is in Sydney, the same ground where South Africa and Sri Lanka played their quarter final, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy took 7 Sri Lankan wickets and the pitch helped the spinners.
4. New Zealand
The Black Caps are the co-host of the tournament and topped the group A, unbeaten in the tournament. This team has played good cricket so far and also possesses great bowling attack. Defeated Sri Lankan, Australian and English teams in the group stage and played unitedly throughout the tournament. New Zealanders performed extremely well in the quarter final against West Indies and proved it again that it’s never easy to beat them in their own den.
New Zealand’s pace attack features, Trent Boult, hightest wicket taker of the tournament till the end of quarter finals, Tim Southee, can’t forget his spell against England, holds best bowling figure of this WC, Adam Milne, though lacks experience but has confidence on home grounds. This pace attack is backed by the experience and intelligent bowling of Daniel Vettori. Captain Brendon McCullum’s blistering starts give boost to the batting of New Zealand. Martin Guptill is in top form with two consecutive tons and the middle order is solidified by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
I guess, Auckland is going to witness great fireworks from both South Africa and New Zealand in the first semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2015.
This world cup has broken and created many great records and has successfully entertained cricket fans across the globe. ICC cricket World Cup 2015 will end on 29th of March, 2015 with the final match, doesn’t matter which of the above mentioned teams wins as all of them certainly are good and deserve appreciation for the raising the level of cricket.
P.S. : My predictions for the semi-finals, New Zealand and India and for final, obviously India.