Wednesday, March 21, 2007

After the upsets, it is business as usual

This week's fixtures have been fairly humdrum in the group stages of the 2007 World Cup. So far, we have had minnows facing the giants, and there hasn't been a sniff of an upset. However, tonight's fixtures offer a chance, with Sri Lanka facing Bangladesh, and Pakistan facing Zimbabwe.

If Bangladesh win this fixture, they are almost certain of qualifying, and will probably top their group. However, they will find the Sri Lankans to be a tougher nut to crack then the Indians, who they caught on the hop. The pleasing thing though for Bangladesh is that if they bring their best game with them, they do give themselves a good chance of beating any side, now. However, if Sri Lanka bring their best game along, then Bangladesh have no chance. Sri Lanka must be accounted one of the tournament favourites, with a well balanced team.

Still it should be an interesting game.

Zimbabwe vs Pakistan would not normally be considered an interesting game. Zimbabwean cricket is at a low ebb and the West Indies saw them off the other day without raising a sweat. However, Pakistan are now in total disarray, and are only playing in this game under direct instruction. It is possible that their coach, Bob Woolmer, was actually murdered, and the general state of mind of the team can hardly be any worse. Zimbabwe, comprised of triers, might find Pakistan theirs for the taking. However, these events might also galvanise Pakistan to take out their frustrations on the Zimbabweans.

If Zimbabwe win the game, it throws the race in the group wide open. It will all come down to a do-or-die fixture between Ireland and West Indies, and it will come down to that old monster, Net Run Rate, to determine who qualifies. (assuming that West Indies beat Ireland.)

In the other groups, England still have to beat Kenya to be certain of qualifying. If they lose, the second position behind New Zealand will come down to Net Run Rate. In Group A, Australia and South Africa have already qualified. Putting the two strongest ODI nations with two of the weaker minnows was always going to be ugly, and so it has proved, although Scotland were gallant to bat through their 50 overs against South Africa yesterday.

So while this week has so far been fairly unremarkable in 2007 World Cup it should finish off on a high as the group phase winds up.

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