Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Super Eight is Settled

The final match in the first round occurred today, when Bangladesh played Bermuda. Bangladesh needed to win, draw, or tie this match to make the Super Eight. If they failed, India would rather improbably go through. However, that was never likely. The game was, however, repeatedly delayed by rain. In the end, after a number of delays the game was reduced to 21 overs per side. Bermuda scored 9/94 off 21 overs. Abdur Razzak took 3/20 for Bangladesh, but wickets were shared around. Thanks to the subtle (but completely fair) details of the Duckworth Lewis rule, Bangladesh were required to score 96 off 21 overs to win. This was never going to be difficult, but chases of this nature almost always have a hiccup or two along the way, and this was no exception. Mukuddem took three wickets for Bermuda, the score was 3/37, everyone got nervous in the Bangladesh dressing room, and then.....

And then Bangladesh cruised home. Saqibul Hasan and Mohammad Ahraful scored 26 not out and 29 not out respectively. Bangladesh won by seven wickets with 3.3 overs remaining. Bangladesh qualified for the Super Eight, with much apparent joy in the Bangladesh dressing room. Bangladesh are delighted to make the Super Eight, and I am sure quite amused that they have done better than either India or Pakistan. Their task now is to win at least a couple of their remaining six games. If they go home having beaten Ireland and one other side in the Super Eight, and are able to finish sixth (or similar) in the World Cup, they would go home with their heads high and it genuinely would be a job well done.

I haven't discussed India's elimination on this blog in cricketing terms. I may (or may not) discuss this tomorrow, which is (thankfully) a rest day in the tournament. The main story from their last game was continues fine form from Sri Lanka, who are now rated second favourites (after Australia) by bookmakers to win the tournament. This is fair - they are clearly a real chance. And England have won the games they were supposed to (finishing with yesterday's easy victory over Kenya) to go through to the second round. England haven't been especially impressive and I do not expect them to make the semi-finals, but they have done what was necessary so far. When you consider that both Pakistan and India were unable to do what was necessary, and that England failed to get to the second round in either of the last two World Cups, then they must be given at least some credit for achieving this.

But here we have it. The Super Eight consists of Sri Lanka, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, England, Ireland, South Africa, and Bangladesh. After points and run rates are carried over, they are in that order on the table. The carrying over of points into the Super Eight has worked well this time. I doubt anyone thinks that the present table positions are unfair. At the start of the tournament I predicted that South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India would make the semi-finals. Those predictions are looking good except for the fact that India have been eliminated from the tournament. Australia are the obvious side to substitute into my semi-final predictions.

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