A few basics on the tournament points-rules first. Let us remind ourselves that:
- The World Cup 2007 has 4 Groups (A, B, C, D and E) of 4 teams each.
- The top two teams from each group (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D1, D2) will advance to the Super8 stage.
- In the Super8 stage A1 will not play A2, B1 will not play B2, C1 will not play C2 and D1 will not play D2.
- So, Super8 teams will only play 6 games each in the Super8 part of the tournament.
- Any points that teams may have earned against the other qualifier from their own Group will be carried through.
- At the end of the Super8 stage, the top four teams will go through to the semi-finals.
Let us also remind ourselves that the Groups are:
[Group-A]: Australia, Scotland, Netherlands, South Africa
[Group-B]: Bermuda, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India
[Group-C]: Canada, Kenya, England, New Zealand
[Group-D]: West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland, Zimbabwe
Like most cricket fans and pundits, the expectation is that Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, England, New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan will make the Super8.
Let us further assume that we do not have rain, game-abandons and ties.
Given that most of us on this Blog would want Team India to maximise its chances of entering the semi-final stage, I feel that the following results in the Group stages of the World Cup 2007 will be good for India’s chances.
- India wins all its 3 Group-B games — against Sri Lanka, Bermuda and Bangladesh.
- Australia thrashes the living daylight out of South Africa in its Group-A!
- England manage to win only one of their Group-C games and that is against New Zealand. England then proceed to lose to Canada and Kenya and bomb out of the tournament. This is not a pipe dream, but a regular England thing when it comes to World Cups in any sport! But more seriously, it would be good if England were to beat the Kiwis.
- West Indies beats Pakistan.
Reasoning? I think a team would need 3-4 wins out of the six Super8 games plus one from its Group-game to be a safe shoe-in to the semi-finals stage. I believe that of the Super8 teams, India can beat England, West Indies and New Zealand. If we add to that a Group-game win against Sri Lanka, that would then be the games that India needs. Unless India plays some exceptional cricket, I expect the team to lose to Australia and South Africa. Even though India has never lost to Pakistan in her World Cup outings, the India V Pakistan game is always a lottery. So, a win there would be a bonus.
India’s semi-final contenders are, in my view, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan. Despite the recent chest-beats from Barry Richards and Sunil Gavaskar, I still feel that there is daylight between Australia and the rest of the teams and they must be a dead-cert for the Semi finals. So, the best results in the Group stage would be those that disadvantage South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan. Hence the results-suggestions above.