The stage is all set for the clash of the titans in the 2011 ICC (International Cricket Council) Cricket World Cup. India will meet arch-rivals Pakistan on Wednesday,30th March 2011 while Sri Lanka will clash with New Zealand on Tuesday, 29th March 2011.
Well, India vs Pakistan contest is already being touted as the battle of two giants. Both the countries have had a good tournament so far with India registering a solid victory over reigning champions Australia. Pakistan on the other hand knocked out West Indies in the quarter-finals.
India is being pegged as the hot favorites to win this World Cup being the host nation. But one cannot rule out Pakistan who on their day can pull out a few surprises. Both teams have their fair share of strengths and weaknesses. Batting has come good for India in this World Cup with the likes of Sehwag, Sachin, and Yuvraj.
Yuvraj has been the surprise package in this World Cup showing his form with both bat and bowl. He looks more settled and seems to have matured with age. In the quarter-final match against Australia, he scored a half-century as well as picked up a couple of wickets.
Bowling has been mainly been spearheaded by Zaheer Khan while others have been found to be wanting. This could be the Achilles heel for India even though it would be looking to plug all the gaps.
For Pakistan, batting has been rather unsteady with performances coming in from different quarters. Bowling has been one of the strengths for the team as it has a potent spin attack in the form of Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, and part-timer Hafeez.
The pace department has old warhorse Shoaib Akhtar who looks like a Ford Mustang, still revving some horsepower through age seems to have caught up with him along with Umar Gul. For sure it would be a keenly fought and watched contest across the world.
New Zealand’s clinical performance against South Africa showed that the Kiwis cannot be ruled out. Their spirited all-around effort with the bat, the ball as well as fielding has seen them through to the semi-finals of the World Cup. The team does not have a stand-out performer who could work in their favor as well as against them.
Batting has a couple of names like Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder but their mercurial performances could also be a cause for worry. The bowling department is led from the front by ace leg spinner Daniel Vettori who has been a good company by Nathan McCullum.
It would have to be a combination of all-around performance which would help Kiwis advance to the next round. New Zealand would be facing Sri Lanka who stormed home yesterday with an excellent win over England.
The English side looked depleted without the likes of James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen, their key players. This was reflected both in their batting as well as bowling. The Englishmen were never allowed to gather momentum and throughout the fifty overs, they looked like an elephant tethered by iron chains by Sri Lankans. They posted 229 -6 and it appeared they fell short in posting a formidable total for the Lankans.
This turned out to be true as the Lankans cruised home in mere 39 overs with all their wicket intact. This was a humiliating defeat for the English team indeed which looked to salvage some pride. But opening batsmen Tharanga and Dilshan made sure that there were no hiccups in the run chase and everything went on smoothly.
Here are the official/promotional songs (videos) to encourage the team of India and Pakistan:
So, the countdown has four teams- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand. It would be difficult to predict the winners but sub-continent advantage might favor Lankans over the Kiwis. it would be a tooth and nail fought contest between India and Pakistan both of whom have had a long acrimonious cricketing history.
This clash would have more importance to both the teams irrespective of winning the cup! So, on the 30th of March, the roads will be desolate, traffic would come to a standstill and people would be glued to their television sets praying for their respective teams. All hell cuts loose on this day! Watch out.
Finally – who will win this semi-final India or Pakistan? Share your opinion!