March 18, 2011

Now it gets interesting

Halfway through the World Cup the teams are in the same position as when they started out. But things will change from here on in
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It's time to start bidding the Associates goodbye, and while they haven't set the tournament afire collectively, it is also time to acknowledge their contribution. Club cricketers with spirit, and the odd dollar, they have had their moments. Canada improved as the tournament went along, while the Dutch, sadly, made the reverse journey. Kenya were the most disappointing; this might well be the last time we see them. And there was little doubt that the tough, competitive Irish were the most respected. They deserve a step up and their riches must be protected from predatory neighbours.

Here is a group of 16 that could compete. As a recognition, the ICC must release its Associates squad and here is something to start with. Niall and Kevin O'Brien, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, John Mooney, Ed Joyce and William Porterfield (Ireland), Ashish Bagai, Jimmy Hansra, Henry Osinde, Harvir Baidwan and Balaji Rao (Canada), Ryan ten Doeschate and Pieter Seelaar (Netherlands) and Collins Obuya and Tanmay Mishra (Kenya).

Meanwhile, as I type this, it is four days to go for the group stage to end, there are no clear leaders anywhere, and we don't know much more than we did already. Dare I say it's been a predictable World Cup from that point of view? India's bowling has been weak, Sri Lanka have been dependent on the top four batsmen, Australia have been resolute, New Zealand have punched above their weight, England haven't, and Pakistan have blown hot and cold. The fear of chaos has been unfounded. Stadiums have been good, excitement has been high, tickets have been difficult to get, and the DRS has been bizarre.

And so the tournament will begin afresh. Seven games where fortunes will be made and dreams realized, disappointments faced and crestfallen looks exchanged. Teams will have to pull up their socks, camouflage their weaknesses and puff up their strengths. This battle of survival could be as much on ESPN Star Sports as on the Discovery Channel.

Unlike in past World Cups where Australia resembled a mammoth juggernaut, they have looked a touch vulnerable. They are starting slowly, almost feeling the need to preserve rather than attack. Watson and Haddin have been more Boon and Marsh than Hayden and Gilchrist. The fast bowlers are fearsome but erratic, spin is unsubstantial, and Ponting has been short of runs. Otherwise they have been good enough to stay unbeaten in their first five games - a habit only they can practise. Yet alongside South Africa they remain favourites. It says a bit for their strength that they can appear vulnerable and favourites at the same time.

South Africa have got almost everything right, including possessing spinners of all kinds, which is a bit like saying a Tamil Brahmin has a fridge stocked with meat! If AB de Villiers is available consistently, and Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis get among the runs, which they inevitably do, they will be very tough to beat. But like a financial report doesn't indicate the temperament of the chief executive, neither does the strength in numbers and on paper mean much once the knockout stage begins. There too, skills will be critical, but the South Africans know it is always more than that.

Pakistan need a calm opener, a wicketkeeper who can catch, a captain who respects his own batting skills, and Shoaib Akhtar with the new ball alongside the extremely impressive Umar Gul. If Shoaib is back, I believe they have the most effective bowlers for this tournament. I won't be surprised if they are the team others don't want to play in the quarter-final.

With India, the bowling and the fielding continue to be a burden the batting must carry. India need Zaheer Khan to bowl 20 overs, even 25, and Dhoni will want to stretch his overs out as much as possible. I won't be surprised if he goes in with 3-2-2-3 kind of spells for Zaheer, or even 4-3-3. And somehow India need to convert Harbhajan Singh into an attacking bowler again. The batting is as good as it has ever been and there are a few calm heads up that order. Now to get Dhoni to bat longer, to release him from a permanent position in the batting order and use him, as Sourav Ganguly suggests, to bat anytime 25 overs are left. India are under much scrutiny. The captain, his head currently sought everywhere, wants them to play for the country and not the crowds, and there are more expert voices than accents at the moment.

It's been a largely successful World Cup so far and with a bit of luck it will stay that way.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nampally on March 21, 2011, 15:50 GMT

    Yes it is "Do or Die" time for all teams. I wish the teams played the same format once more - i.e. each Group A teams paly against each of the 4 group B teams and the top 4 teams play off on knock out basis.This would be true assessment of the Winner. Presently one bad day & you are out. Each of the 8 teams is capable of beating the other on their good days. Take the case of WI Vs. Pakistan - If WI play with cool heads, they can beat Pakistan. India can win in their game against Aussies provided the batting shows up in full force. The Aussie bowling relies heavily on Brett Lee and Pace trio. On Ahmadabad pitch, only Lee with his accuracy can be effective if the Indian batsmen keep Lee off Wkts it will be tough not to get 300.Sehwag needs to fulfill his promise for a long innings of 50 overs. Zaheer, Yuvraj & Ashwin should tie the strike bowlers. Harbhajan & Munaf bowl stingily. If India play hard & take catches, they should beat the Aussies easily. Good Luck India - Jai Ho!

  • on March 20, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    the easy way to win the world cup - combine indian batting power with pakistan bowling power (original India team)..

  • Muyeen on March 19, 2011, 14:11 GMT

    awesome article;as I read this Pakistan are doing well against Australia needing just 120 to win. If they win then all the teams would have lost atleast one match in this tournament making it most open world cup. strange I this but from now Everyone is favourite and Nobody is unbeatable.

  • harshthakor on March 19, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    In the history of the World Cup there has never been a more evenly contested World cup,reminding one of an olympic 100 metre dash with only a margin of a whisker seperating the opponents.There is no outstanding team with every team having its defects.In terms of performance there was nothing between South Africa ,India and England in Group A.

    South Africa are the most balanced team in the tournament with strength in every department.They proved that they have strong mental resilience in the game against India in the run chase where they held their nerves.They have the best bowling attack with the likes of Dayle Steyn and Imran Tahir in addition to a strong team with the talent of Smith,Amala and De Villiers.I would tip this team to win the Cup as it has peaked at the right time.Sri Lanka and Australia are the other prime contenders,with the Aussies professionalism a major factor.India is highly disorganised in the bowlimg department and lacks a strategy in batting in the powerplay .

  • timus6778 on March 19, 2011, 7:12 GMT

    one more zaheer...and india will be back to winning ways...oh god..listen to my prayer.

  • on March 19, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    Harsha bhogle is a great personality no doubt.But unfortunately when it comes to cricket he sometimes is very a ordinary analyst. He must have been a great fielder like a jonty rhodes in his college days, and so he loves only those who field well and hates all others. Now he should ask himself one question. How many parents including him train their children to be athletic. How many of them encourage them to go to a gym or make them live a rough and tough life.?? Did harsha ever consider this when he says indian team is poor at fielding.For god sake cricket is not all about fielding.Everybody criticize india because their bowlers cannot bowl at150 kph.Look at australia they conceded 260 runs against a club kenyan side.South africa even made a small 296 targetas a 390 one. Sa are lucky they lost to england and nobody will ever criticize them. australia lost both their warm up games and still nobody will criticize them.harsha and others need to know what cricket is. it is not rugby

  • on March 19, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    I dont believe what happened to DHONIII nowadays, he is known for his hard hitting, but he is rather happy to take single and keep his scorecard ticking and watch wickets falling at other end....he is believing pathan and sending in, rather he is not believing himself for hitting, he needs to deliver the best for Indian team, and should come early and counter attack, taking singles and rotating strike we have gambhir, kohli, and so on.....he is a hitter, he should be ready for the task to keep the World Cup hopesssssssss!!!

  • on March 19, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    i used to like Harsha ...but not any more..i am apalled how he didnt talk about england and their free spirited cricket which has given us some of the most thrilling and exciting world cup matches...these matches have been true testament of how oneday cricket is still very much interesting, exhilirating and equally unpredictable...I watch cricket for this excitement.....i think if mercurial england moves on to the next round we will have some more spoilers and excitements coming our way.....

  • on March 19, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    ICC should create new type of membership called "Test Eligible", grant more and more ODI and T20 matches to them with Test Nations (Full Members).

    First to enter that membership state should be Ireland.

  • Angry_Bowler on March 19, 2011, 2:31 GMT

    I am just waiting to see 100th 100 from Sachin. I don't care who wins the cup, given the Indian poor fielding, poor running between the wickets and shoddy bowling, I don't think they will go beyond the quarter final. Let the better playing side win the cup!

  • Nampally on March 21, 2011, 15:50 GMT

    Yes it is "Do or Die" time for all teams. I wish the teams played the same format once more - i.e. each Group A teams paly against each of the 4 group B teams and the top 4 teams play off on knock out basis.This would be true assessment of the Winner. Presently one bad day & you are out. Each of the 8 teams is capable of beating the other on their good days. Take the case of WI Vs. Pakistan - If WI play with cool heads, they can beat Pakistan. India can win in their game against Aussies provided the batting shows up in full force. The Aussie bowling relies heavily on Brett Lee and Pace trio. On Ahmadabad pitch, only Lee with his accuracy can be effective if the Indian batsmen keep Lee off Wkts it will be tough not to get 300.Sehwag needs to fulfill his promise for a long innings of 50 overs. Zaheer, Yuvraj & Ashwin should tie the strike bowlers. Harbhajan & Munaf bowl stingily. If India play hard & take catches, they should beat the Aussies easily. Good Luck India - Jai Ho!

  • on March 20, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    the easy way to win the world cup - combine indian batting power with pakistan bowling power (original India team)..

  • Muyeen on March 19, 2011, 14:11 GMT

    awesome article;as I read this Pakistan are doing well against Australia needing just 120 to win. If they win then all the teams would have lost atleast one match in this tournament making it most open world cup. strange I this but from now Everyone is favourite and Nobody is unbeatable.

  • harshthakor on March 19, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    In the history of the World Cup there has never been a more evenly contested World cup,reminding one of an olympic 100 metre dash with only a margin of a whisker seperating the opponents.There is no outstanding team with every team having its defects.In terms of performance there was nothing between South Africa ,India and England in Group A.

    South Africa are the most balanced team in the tournament with strength in every department.They proved that they have strong mental resilience in the game against India in the run chase where they held their nerves.They have the best bowling attack with the likes of Dayle Steyn and Imran Tahir in addition to a strong team with the talent of Smith,Amala and De Villiers.I would tip this team to win the Cup as it has peaked at the right time.Sri Lanka and Australia are the other prime contenders,with the Aussies professionalism a major factor.India is highly disorganised in the bowlimg department and lacks a strategy in batting in the powerplay .

  • timus6778 on March 19, 2011, 7:12 GMT

    one more zaheer...and india will be back to winning ways...oh god..listen to my prayer.

  • on March 19, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    Harsha bhogle is a great personality no doubt.But unfortunately when it comes to cricket he sometimes is very a ordinary analyst. He must have been a great fielder like a jonty rhodes in his college days, and so he loves only those who field well and hates all others. Now he should ask himself one question. How many parents including him train their children to be athletic. How many of them encourage them to go to a gym or make them live a rough and tough life.?? Did harsha ever consider this when he says indian team is poor at fielding.For god sake cricket is not all about fielding.Everybody criticize india because their bowlers cannot bowl at150 kph.Look at australia they conceded 260 runs against a club kenyan side.South africa even made a small 296 targetas a 390 one. Sa are lucky they lost to england and nobody will ever criticize them. australia lost both their warm up games and still nobody will criticize them.harsha and others need to know what cricket is. it is not rugby

  • on March 19, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    I dont believe what happened to DHONIII nowadays, he is known for his hard hitting, but he is rather happy to take single and keep his scorecard ticking and watch wickets falling at other end....he is believing pathan and sending in, rather he is not believing himself for hitting, he needs to deliver the best for Indian team, and should come early and counter attack, taking singles and rotating strike we have gambhir, kohli, and so on.....he is a hitter, he should be ready for the task to keep the World Cup hopesssssssss!!!

  • on March 19, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    i used to like Harsha ...but not any more..i am apalled how he didnt talk about england and their free spirited cricket which has given us some of the most thrilling and exciting world cup matches...these matches have been true testament of how oneday cricket is still very much interesting, exhilirating and equally unpredictable...I watch cricket for this excitement.....i think if mercurial england moves on to the next round we will have some more spoilers and excitements coming our way.....

  • on March 19, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    ICC should create new type of membership called "Test Eligible", grant more and more ODI and T20 matches to them with Test Nations (Full Members).

    First to enter that membership state should be Ireland.

  • Angry_Bowler on March 19, 2011, 2:31 GMT

    I am just waiting to see 100th 100 from Sachin. I don't care who wins the cup, given the Indian poor fielding, poor running between the wickets and shoddy bowling, I don't think they will go beyond the quarter final. Let the better playing side win the cup!

  • on March 18, 2011, 19:58 GMT

    I think you should've mentioned Hiral patel (Canada); As far a sbusiness end of tournament is concerned, it's turning out to be on expected lines, if only an inspired Bangla team makes an upset against SA, which looked vulnerable on slow pitch against Eng. India has done well with batting and am sure their bowling and fielding will improve as the stakes of competition raise higher. Aussies aren't looking formidable self, but they remain unbeatable, invincible in the way only they know, rightly said. Unless other teams spring surprises and do something uncharacteristic. WC finals is a tossup between Aus/ Sri/ SA/ India.

  • on March 18, 2011, 19:50 GMT

    Yep, agreed. Dhoni needs to get his magical touch with the bat back and he should bat longer. If Kohli is to be played in the middle and not 1 down, then Raina is a better option at that position. Kohli can score when there is pace on the ball and the 1 down position suits him well but Ganbhir is equally important at that position. SO Raina must come in for Kohli. Dhoni should be 3 down followed by Raina/Pathan based on situation and then the depth of the batting will increase

  • cricket_fan_1980 on March 18, 2011, 19:24 GMT

    Well said Mr Bhogle, a well constructed analysis. A great cup so far! Much much better than any since 1996 I would say ...

  • on March 18, 2011, 19:14 GMT

    Excellent article, Harsha. You are the best. Sweet and swift as always. I am surprised Pakistan is still not recognized as a favorite.

  • Desihungama on March 18, 2011, 17:14 GMT

    You got that right Harsha. Now, what if Pakistan goes out o break Australia's consecutive wins run at the World Cup, we are looking at India-Australia QF.

  • on March 18, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    The statement you made that Australia look a touch vulnerable is smthin i cant fathom. They hav'nt been tested by any opposition in the tournament so far and i see vey little probability if that happening when they play pakistan.

    My inference is if australia have been way strong in there group and when you come to group B u have India which as you mentioned has a weel bowling line up that leave us with windies and England . Both of these teams are no way near to put up any fight against against australia . Which leaves us to just one team that is SA. and since SA will most probably top the group they can meet the ausies only in the final whch makes ausies the strongest contenders in this world cup as well.

  • on March 18, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    It would been nice to atleast mention Bangladesh.

  • Kaze on March 18, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    I guess to each his own. I can't see how this is a successful World Cup so far given the huge amount of dead games involving Associates. For me this is one of the most boring cups ever, there is a lack of big names and too many mismatches. The knockout stage is where it has to redeem itself, it has been a disappointment so far.

  • intcamd on March 18, 2011, 15:39 GMT

    If Aus beats Pak, and the group A order is Aus,SL,NZ, Pak, and SA bts Ban, Ind bts WI, then SA plays Pak in QF, and there is 50/50 chance SA gets bounced out, per their habit.

    If ENg comes in 4th in grp B and plays Aus in QF, we could also see Aus getting the boot in the QF. That would be the curtains for Bhogle's 2 favorites.

  • mrgupta on March 18, 2011, 14:10 GMT

    Well said Harsha, WC has been pretty interesting and not very straight forward thanks mainly to England. Indian concerns are what everyone feared at the very beginning, Bowling and fielding. On one side while Sachin/Sehwag/Gambhir/Yuvi have hit great form, only Zaheer out of all bowlers has looked world Class. Other pacers are just filling in the place and are more like part-timers. We failed to defend huge totals like 338 and 296, that shows that our batting is under tremendous pressure all the time. I hope atleast one more pacers (Munaf or Sree) hits form and Bhajji gets few wickets. Fielding is what Dhoni said, have to live with it. I sure hope i am wrong, but i have a feeling that if our bowling doesn't improve quickly we will be found wanting against the likes of Aus, Pak or SL (Same way as against Eng and SA). We might be left stranded in QF or atmost Semi-Finals. I pray that doesn't happen.

  • mitgop11 on March 18, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    that looks like a fair summary of this WC so far. It is hillarious too... "Pakistan need a calm opener, a wicketkeeper who can catch, a captain who respects his own batting skills" - excellent work Harsha, as always.

  • on March 18, 2011, 13:19 GMT

    No proper mention of England, only the team of the group stages - for their obsession with making 50 over cricket worth watching again. South Africa are so good they lost to England, England somehow managed to lose to Ireland and Bangladesh.

    Are you watching the World Cup?

  • shamshanker on March 18, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Sir, i think indian middle order also need to be strong at times 9 wickes for 29 runs points india's middle order ineffiency amidst must win against windies

  • harshalb on March 18, 2011, 12:03 GMT

    Pakistan is the most balanced team because they have the ability to recover and retaliate from a score something like 25-4 or even defend a score as low as 150. Their 5, 6, 7 and 8 are Mizbah, Umer, Afridi and Razzaq. Their is the most balanced bowling attack in the WC, with Shoaib, Umar Gul, Afridi, Razzaq, Ajmal. I am yet to understand why they are not considered top favorites.

  • on March 18, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    It's a great shame that the Associates won't be Down Under in 2015 whilst you must cut down the number world cup match you can still include one in the world cup it grows the game, givse it the element of surprise and most of all gives these nations something to aspire to isn't playing the world's best the goal of every sportsperson? shame on you ICC this is a bad decision Cricket as global enterprise died in the subcontinent in 2011 and the game is a lot poorer for it

  • SuperPak2011 on March 18, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    I think Pakistan will be very dangerous, and in the end it will be whoever has the most luck and prevails in pressure situations. Also, it is very useful to get the basics right whether you are playing against South Africa or Kenya

  • on March 18, 2011, 10:20 GMT

    india under dhoni can't be taken lightly he can comeback from embrassing situations to win matches which are beyond one's grasp.indian players need believe and confidence rather, than worrying about what may happen to win this world cup.make no mistake india just need another four straight wins to lift the unimaginable.

  • sarathy_m2 on March 18, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    Situation of the tournament is clearly said. SA and Aus are looking good, NZ and Pak are doing good, Sri and Ind are exposing more.

    Associates did well in very few matches, but on whole they stretched the tournament unnecessarily. I watched certain matches in compulsion even knowing the result. Should world cup matches be like that? I'll blame on schedule rather than eliminating them. If 2 or 3 matches were scheduled per day, we might not have talked much about the elimination of Associates, in my opinion.

  • on March 18, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    " A wicketkeeper who can catch " ....that pretty much sums it up for pak ....lolz

  • ygkd on March 18, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    Why not reward the best associate players with the chance to play a test or two? The World XI game against Australia a few years ago lacked bite because too many of the cobbled-together team didn't appear interested and at least one player should never have been picked for a turning SCG wicket. A team from the minnow-lands would, however, have plenty of incentive to get it together. Imagine the OBriens, ten Doeschate, Tanmay Mishra, Porterfield, Rankin etc all in the one side. Such a Rest-of-the-World side wouldn't half give Australia today a run for their money, eh? Now that's something I would pay to watch.

  • vlpr on March 18, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    This is a tournament where the teams do not represent countries, but represent their respective BOARDS. For instance, the Indian team is not playing, it is the BCCI team that is playing. Similarly for other countries.

    In such a scenario, what is the harm in having the 7 regular members of the ICC play in the tournament - India, Pak, SL, Aus, SA, NZ, England. Have Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, Bermuda, Kenya, etc. compete in the ICC Associate trophy. The winning team goes through, and create 2 COMPOSITE teams out the members of all the associate sides.

    In such a scenario, we will have a total of 10 teams, but it is likely that all the 10 teams will be able to play competitive cricket.

    This will handle most of the issues- too many dead matches, one sided matches, no crowds for some matches, and will also give exposure to the Associate players by letting them play against stronger opposition.

  • yamujala on March 18, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    Hi Harsha... With the kind of Batting lineup we have on paper... it should never be a problem for India to get to the 330 mark everytime....but eventually you get a feeling that the team is digging its own grave by toiling with the batting order and taking powerplay when the ball gets changed but the fact remains that the new ball will be given to the likes of Steyn/Gul/malinga etc who are not easy to get away....considering we have pathan in Powerplay. It is worthwile to realise that an unchanged batting order does wonders to the team's confidene and a score in excess of 330 should not be a problem if we bowl sensibly and include Ashwin in the squad ( We know he is not a Shane Warne) but he is someone who likes to take up the challenge in the powerplays as well.....

    Hope to see Indian team through to the semis... and fingers crossed for the WI game.... May Sachin make a ton and others provide some meaning to it !!!!!

  • on March 18, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    I think the way Eden Gardens has hosted the 2 matches & considering the fact of the Madly Cricket Lovers from the Eastern Part of the country,it desrved far more better games than it has..@ least when compared to Colombo & Dhaka getting 7 matches each..Kolkata was worth to get better matches,at least they could've kept one of the Quarters in Eden Gardens.no point in keeping 2 Quarters in Bangabandhu.

  • on March 18, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    i wonder wat made harsha not to write about the windies and new zealand... they could very well turn out to be a surprise for the other teams in the knockout stages...

  • Herath-UK on March 18, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    So far crowds entertainment & fanfare wise Sri Lanka has the edge,India provided several nerve wracking games but BD showed ugly head of crowd trouble. India has to be careful here if it is edged out in a game,no repeat of 96 occurs.However of course my plum of trophy so far is to England having given us such nerve thrillers to remain in the competition! Ranil Herath, Kent

  • on March 18, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    India is a 2 man team, take out Sehwag and Sachin and the rest go for 29 and these Indians talk of winning the World Cup... Lol

  • NALINWIJ on March 18, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    Nice article and a great analogy between South African spinners and the tamil brahmin''s fridge stacked with meat.Hopefully SL middle order may perform as the rest of the side functions well.India has no excuse for mediocore fielding as SL has gone from the worst fielding side in subcontinent to the best by embracing Australian coaching culture and India is too arrogant to change their fielding culture.

  • on March 18, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Your article has been like the league stage. It talks about things we all know. Like we expect India to win every time they play, we expect you and other experts to write about things we are not aware of. Cheers!

  • Cricketer4good on March 18, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    Couldn't agree more on Pakistan and India bit.

  • on March 18, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    no team is decisively strong...this WC is quickly turning into a lottery.... perhaps a best of 3 would have been better for finals.

  • Rishabh on March 18, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Also in the Associates squad: Tom Cooper of the Netherlands

  • ashvenky on March 18, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    ICC changed rules to accommodate interests of the Host teams by saying kncok out games will be played in their country itslef! Now does any one know in case SL has to play India in q/f or semis where will the match be played. Obviously if it is final then it will be mumbai. But q/f--- ahmedabad or colombo? semis: chandigarh or colombo?

  • Prasado on March 18, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    Great article Harsha. My picks for the semifinalists are Australia, South Africa, India and New Zealand. I think New Zealand might surprise a few.

  • on March 18, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    Having knockout quarter finals is an insult to the teams who have performed well during a month long 6 game group stage. The 4th placed team in a group is on equal footing (weather permitting) in the tournament with the top team from the other. If the top 2 teams from each group were contesting semis, then every group game would've counted for a lot, including slip ups against the minnows. A final 8 is a lottery. A final 4 would ensure that the winning team had at least put in a decent performance over the whole tournament.

  • boristheblade on March 18, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    i think its time for SA to make it this time...the fact that they have a lot of young players who havent suffered past world cup disappointments should help them...and like always they have all the talent and ability in their side...back in 1996 they were perhaps short of good spinners but this time they arent...but as we all know, it takes just one bad day to crash out once the knockouts start, and that makes it so very interesting, albeit unfair to some sides...Lets hope australia dont hit their peak form in the remaining part, the world needs a new champion!

  • gov544 on March 18, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    Indian team hasn't clicked as yet.... something is wrong

  • Ankit.Rathi on March 18, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    It will be interesting to see who will play against whom in quaterfinals.

    Comments on the teams- India: Weak bowling and fielding, no good chances Australia: Weak spin but overall balanced England: Making each match interesting Pakistan: Best bowling attack, balanced South Africa: Good spin, among favourites Sri Lanka: More dependent on batting, still far better than India New Zealand: Balanced side, playing good West Indies: Playing shaky, lets see

    From quarterfinals, 7 knock-out matches, hold your breath and keep your fingers crossed. Lets forget the strengths and weaknesses for now, whoever wins the three consecutive will have the crown.

  • on March 18, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    GREAT COLUMN HARSHA SIR...

  • on March 18, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    Despite media-frenzy dubbing India as pre-tournament favourites the team has suffered self-inflicted losses from winning positions. On the other hand the lesser facied England have literally pulled back matches with India,SA and WI from the jaws of defeat.From a so called perception and misplaced in my view of 'win it for Sachin' the team has shown a penchant tp honour his herculean efforts on the field by capitulating and ensuring humiliating losses. JAI HO and may God save the Indian Team if they qualify.

  • Meety on March 18, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Good summary. Hopefully you're wrong re: Kenya, where they were at 8 yrs ago compared to now is very depressing. It was noticable that Canada improved. I do think there is no clear favourites for this Cup, not sure if it is an advantage to finish top in Group A. So you could almost say what was the point of the last 40 odd games!

  • ram_sachin on March 18, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Awesom article again .. I wonder how Harsha manages to pull the rabbit out o the hat everytime... Kudos to him. As far as India is concerned, we need a second seamer, considering Ashwin and Bhajji are fixed for next couple of matches. Drop munaf, Injure Nehra.. Get back Ishant.. Save India

  • asifx on March 18, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    " Dare I say it's been a predictable World Cup from that point of view?"

    It's been predictable only because it was designed this way. There have been enough upsets in the group stages but the fixtures were designed in a way so that the big teams don't fail to qualify.

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  • asifx on March 18, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    " Dare I say it's been a predictable World Cup from that point of view?"

    It's been predictable only because it was designed this way. There have been enough upsets in the group stages but the fixtures were designed in a way so that the big teams don't fail to qualify.

  • ram_sachin on March 18, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Awesom article again .. I wonder how Harsha manages to pull the rabbit out o the hat everytime... Kudos to him. As far as India is concerned, we need a second seamer, considering Ashwin and Bhajji are fixed for next couple of matches. Drop munaf, Injure Nehra.. Get back Ishant.. Save India

  • Meety on March 18, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Good summary. Hopefully you're wrong re: Kenya, where they were at 8 yrs ago compared to now is very depressing. It was noticable that Canada improved. I do think there is no clear favourites for this Cup, not sure if it is an advantage to finish top in Group A. So you could almost say what was the point of the last 40 odd games!

  • on March 18, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    Despite media-frenzy dubbing India as pre-tournament favourites the team has suffered self-inflicted losses from winning positions. On the other hand the lesser facied England have literally pulled back matches with India,SA and WI from the jaws of defeat.From a so called perception and misplaced in my view of 'win it for Sachin' the team has shown a penchant tp honour his herculean efforts on the field by capitulating and ensuring humiliating losses. JAI HO and may God save the Indian Team if they qualify.

  • on March 18, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    GREAT COLUMN HARSHA SIR...

  • Ankit.Rathi on March 18, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    It will be interesting to see who will play against whom in quaterfinals.

    Comments on the teams- India: Weak bowling and fielding, no good chances Australia: Weak spin but overall balanced England: Making each match interesting Pakistan: Best bowling attack, balanced South Africa: Good spin, among favourites Sri Lanka: More dependent on batting, still far better than India New Zealand: Balanced side, playing good West Indies: Playing shaky, lets see

    From quarterfinals, 7 knock-out matches, hold your breath and keep your fingers crossed. Lets forget the strengths and weaknesses for now, whoever wins the three consecutive will have the crown.

  • gov544 on March 18, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    Indian team hasn't clicked as yet.... something is wrong

  • boristheblade on March 18, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    i think its time for SA to make it this time...the fact that they have a lot of young players who havent suffered past world cup disappointments should help them...and like always they have all the talent and ability in their side...back in 1996 they were perhaps short of good spinners but this time they arent...but as we all know, it takes just one bad day to crash out once the knockouts start, and that makes it so very interesting, albeit unfair to some sides...Lets hope australia dont hit their peak form in the remaining part, the world needs a new champion!

  • on March 18, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    Having knockout quarter finals is an insult to the teams who have performed well during a month long 6 game group stage. The 4th placed team in a group is on equal footing (weather permitting) in the tournament with the top team from the other. If the top 2 teams from each group were contesting semis, then every group game would've counted for a lot, including slip ups against the minnows. A final 8 is a lottery. A final 4 would ensure that the winning team had at least put in a decent performance over the whole tournament.

  • Prasado on March 18, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    Great article Harsha. My picks for the semifinalists are Australia, South Africa, India and New Zealand. I think New Zealand might surprise a few.