Monday, March 26, 2007

The Super Eight begins with three big games

Tomorrow, Australia takes on the West Indies in Antigua. Australia come fresh off their fine win against South Africa, and will be on a high. West Indies have perhaps been less impressive in the tournament so far, but they won all three games in the first round and carried two points over into the Super Eight, so they did none the less do everything that was asked of them. I think the cricketing world would love a home win in this tournament, and I wouldn't mind it myself. However, I none the less do not want them to beat us. Similarly, while I would like to see Brian Lara batting at his best in the tournament, I would once again prefer he did it against South Africa, or perhaps England. However, if he did it against us, I wouldn't mind too much. There are few things in cricket that are finer to watch than Brian Lara at his best.

I do not know what the pitch in Antigua is going to be like, and I do not know what a good score is going to be. It is possible that Ponting does not really know either. Threfore I think it might be a game in which the captain who wins the toss might elect to bat second. None the less, both sides have stronger batting than bowling, so the side that does bat first may well have a chance to score a big total. It will be interesting to see what happens.

On Wednesday, South Africa take on Sri Lanka in Guyana. South Africa were steadily firming second favouries until their loss to Australia on Saturday, when they eased a bit. Sri Lanka are now given shorter odds than South Africa, and have looked hungry and disciplined in the tournament so far. We shall see if South Africa can fight back, but my money is on Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka can win this one, South Africa will have to then win four out of five to make the semi-finals, so it is looking like they will need to concentrate.

On Thursday, West Indies take on New Zealand, again in Antigua. New Zealand unfortunately will be missing Lou Vincent, who is out of the tournament after breaking his wrist in training, which is very bad luck for him and New Zealand. (His tournament so far was inconsistent - two ducks and a century. I am sure he would have liked to have had a chance to decide on the field whether he was having a good or bad tournament). Shane Bond versus Brian Lara could be an interesting duel. West Indies have the power to overwhelm New Zealand, but New Zealand have the niggling players and tactical skills to take advantage of any ill discipline or casual cricket on the part of the West Indies. Should be an interesting game.

If the West Indies lose both games, I think the case that they were flattered by winning their group and carrying points over into the Super Eight would be a strong one. If they can win at least one of the two games, things will be going well for them.

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