Yesterday we looked at the league phase and the Super Eights. Based on the obvious shortcomings that most of these teams have, we eliminated everyone except the five best teams. Four of these five will play in the semi finals. The beauty of this particular World Cup is that each of these five teams can definitely win the Cup, depending on who you ask. So I won’t even attempt to pick one winner.
Australia is perhaps the certainty of this World Cup, despite their recent shortcomings. One thing that will work to their advantage is that now they are a hungry team, the wounded tiger, to use that tired clichÃ©. The record totals that New Zealand chased down and the defeats to England in their own summer has probably ruffled more feathers Down So thatâ€™s one team that would come out firing from all cylinders. Their bowling is a bit suspect with McGrath and Bracken being the most recognizable faces, and seems to suffer in comparison to the other attacks, but their batting runs deep and that will probably even things out.
Despite their failings in the last year, India is a team that is peaking at the right time. I believe India has a very balanced bowling attack and even with Sehwagâ€™s continued failings, the batting will be feared. The presence of Tendulkar, the rejuvenated Ganguly and the unfailingly consistent Dravid (in perhaps their last World Cup together) definitely commands respect. Lower down the order Yuvraj Singh and the shaggy haired Dhoni have shown that ice water runs through their veins. While I think they lack a batsman, their top order is the most experienced of all the teams’ and that will carry them through the tournament.
Sri Lanka has a fine set of old warriors and young guns that promise to make this an exciting tournament. Vaas and Murali provide a calming influence in an attack that also includes the exciting Lasith Malinga. The old guard can be counted to shoulder much of the responsibility, but the likes of the exciting Upul Tharanga (who already has 6 centuries from 43 games) and the veteran Russel Arnold will contribute with the bat too . Sri Lanka has proved to be a trendsetting team in the past dozen years since the eventful Australian tour in 1995-96 and they will be one of the top teams in this World Cup for sure, in spite of their recent failings against India.
Now to choose the last team… For various reasons, I am at a quandary to choose between South Africa and New Zealand. In New Zealandâ€™s case, I havenâ€™t seen many of the players play. So they are an unknown quantity. However with their recent successes against Australia, they are on a roll and will attempt to make a splash. As for South Africa, the team has had some recent success, beating India and Pakistan fairly easily. But this is South Africa that we are discussing here – the team responsible for some spectacular implosions and exits from the World Cups of the past. And there is nothing that suggests that things might have turned a corner for them. So I think the last semi final spot shall go to either South Africa or New Zealand â€“ to the team that will hold its nerve together. Thereafter it is anybodyâ€™s game, though Iâ€™d give Australia and India slightly better chances of getting through to the final.
Now for the question for this post:
They play in the idyllic Griffith park and their playing XIs have historically included big names such as Laurence Olivier, Errol Flynn, Boris Karloff and David Niven. More recently this team has included former internationals such as Rajesh Chauhan and in 2001, Ajay Jadeja whose presence raised a stink. So which is this team?
Again, email me the answers at anantha[at]Gmail[dot]com with â€œ(title of this post): Answerâ€ in the subject. The right answer will be provided along with the next post.