I am possibly going to get flamed for this by my fellow fans of Team India, but I feel that unless a few things change dramatically in the next few weeks, we will be seeing a South Africa Vs Pakistan (or England) Cricket World Cup 2011 Final, with South Africa winning by a small margin.
In that sense I am agreeing with Peter Roebuck: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/503695.html
The pre-tournament favourites were: India, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and Pakistan (perhaps in that order).
I have not bothered with West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The less said about the rest of the sides, the better, in my view!
So why am I then picking RSA and Pakistan as the two to watch out for?
Australia without Michael Hussey will — I strongly believe – not be able to do get there. Despite Mitchel Johnson’s good form (a rarity these days), Brett Lee’s pace and the unleashing of Saun Tait, I still feel that this Australia does not have it in them. The middle order is wobbly and untested. Once Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting depart, the batting just lacks teeth.
India do the big things well – big hitting, big names, big sixes and big fours! However, often times, it is the collection of small things that separates from the good from the excellent. With India’s team composition being what it is and with her inadequate running and fielding, I think the small things will add up to a lost tournament.
Sri Lanka has a balanced attack. The bowling is outstanding, with Malinga and Muralitharan ably supported by Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Matthews. However, my problem with this team is that it depends too much on Sangakkara and Jayawardene for its runs.
In my books, unless Collingwood fires, England’s middle order looks far too shaky to make an impact. With a post-Ashes Jimmy Andreson being what he is, the bowling lacks teeth too.
So, that leaves South Africa and Pakistan.
South Africa has embraced spin, and how! From being dependent on defensive bowlers like Paul Harris, South Africa has unleashed Johan Botha, Imra Tahir and Peterson and has told them to attack. We then throw in to this mix, a fiery Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and a steady Jacques Kallis. What we then have is a potent attack! The batting looks rock solid too, with Smith, Amla, Kalllis, AB de Villiers, Duminy and Faf du Plessis. This is a team to beat, in my view. It has everything going for it including athletic fielding, attacking batting and solid bowling.
Pakistan is a funny side. It always is! However, what is different in this episode of the World Cup is the stability that Younis Khan and Misbah Ul Haq give the batting. Moreover, the strong bowling of Shahid Afridi and the steady bowling of Abdul Razzaq give the team an air of strength. The fact that Hafeez opens the batting and bowls a few overs of tight off-spin adds to the mix. In my view, this Pakistan team looks more determined than previous ones. The fielding – as observed in the previous match against Sri Lanka – might well make one yearn for the Indian fielding! However, there is something that says to me that this Pakistan team might travel far in this tournament.
So there you have it. My prediction: A RSA vs Pakistan final with RSA winning it handsomely.
This is what I feel.
However, if India alters her team composition/balance, watch out for a re-post and an altered prediction!
-Mohan (@mohank on Twitter)