Sunday, 22 March 2015

PREVIEW OF SEMI FINAL # 1 of WC 2015- Two teams in quest of their first elusive WC title clash against each other.....

So,  at the end of the Pool Stages in this ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 , New Zeland &  India remained unbeaten and they have continued their fine run in the quarter finals as well.

The quarter finals on a whole were a bit of a disappointment as all games were one sided contests mostly barring the scintillating spell of fast, aggressive & hostile spell of fast bowling by Wahab Riaz against Shane Watson. Who knows if  Rahat Ali had taken the catch at the fine leg boundary that game would have been much closer that people would have expected.

 But on a whole no game in the quarter finals were that thrilling or captivating as South Africa's  bowlers steamrolled the Srilankan batsmen ending the famous & fantastic careers of Mahela Jayawardene & Kumar Sangakkara on a bitter & sad note.  And Bangladesh lacked the bite in their bowling attack to curb the Indian batsmen and the target given to them proved to be to big for them to handle.

Apart from an inspired & fascinating spell of fast bowling by Wahab Riaz where he surprised Clarke to dismiss him & he had Shane Watson hopping & jumping in his crease, there was no  help given Riaz's own team mates as they scored only 213 and to add to their woes they dropped Watson when he was struggling and he ended up taking Australia comfortably over the winning line. And the final quarter finals saw the talented Martin Guptill maul the hapless West Indies bowling line up to score 237(152) which was the highest ever individual score  by a batsmen in World Cup History.

Preview of  Semi Final #1

To be played in Auckland,this first semi final is between New Zeland  & South Africa. Both teams having comprehensively marching into the semis will be high on confidence.

For  the co-hosts, it would among the biggest game of cricket their country would have played till date as they have reached the Semi- Finals of such a big tournament. Always known to be the under dogs at such events, this team being brilliantly led by Brendon Mccllum have grown from strength to strength and are clear favorites in my view to win this semis.

With Guptill coming to peak form at the right time for the Kiwis, they have all aspects covered. If they bat first they have the brute fire power of Guptill, Mcclum , Kane Williamson & Corey Anderson to blow out the steam of the opposition bowlers, and when they chase we have seen the calmness & maturity of Kane Williamson & Ross Taylor who have propelled them to victories,

The Kiwis have Tim Southee,  Trent Boult , Adam Milne & Daniel Vettori in  their bowling attack, All the four of them have been potent& lethal and have delivered when it matters the most( A key example of this is how the Kiwi bowlers dismissed the strong & balanced batting line up of the Aussies for a paltry total).

Come this big Semi-Final,  I feel the Kiwis skipper will have a big role to play in terms of leading his side efficiently on the field & more importantly I suspect he will go all out against the pace battery of the South- Africans.

Here is an example of  what damage Brendon Mccllums swashbuckling batting can do to opposition teams:

The South- Africans on the hand are equally talented & have more star players & big match winners in their arsenal to give the Kiwis a tough & close fight. They have progressed to the Semis not as authoritative as the Kiwis but nevertheless their performance against the inform SriLankan batting was ruthless and oozed of confidence & brilliance.

All the batters from the South-African Team have come to the party at some stage or the other in this tournament which is a good sign for them but there is definitely an impression that this team is heavily dependent on their captain, a genius & masterful batsmen & cricketer AB Devillers  to  come out & play one of his sheer magnificent knocks to bail them out.

Here is an example of  how AB Devillers can win games for his country through his immense ability & skill:

A big factor which I feel will go against  the South- African's is the lack of a quality fifth bowling option which I feel can go terribly against them if the Kiwi batsmen can target them.  The fifth bowler for them comprises of JP Duminy's off spin, Faf Du Plesis part time leg-spin & Captain Marvel ABD's   medium pacers.  So if  NewZeland can clam the storm in the first ten overs theirs lot of runs to be had in the latter stages of the innings for them.

And the biggest & most crucial factor which will determine how this game will sway is how do the Proteas  shrug off the "Chokers"  tag & how they handle pressure in such a big game. Prior to the quarter finals,  South Africa hadn't  won a single knockout stage games in World Cups, which says lot of things about the way they handle pressure in big occasion games. And in the group stages of this World Cup itself, they lost to India & Pakistan chasing, sadly doing justice to the "Chokers" tag yet again.

Final Verdict

Both teams are well balanced & are high on confidence & are eagerly looking forward to this big game, On paper, you can 'not  predict who is going to win come this 24th March but it all boils down to how well equiped both the teams are to handle the enormous pressure of the big occasion. The team which handles pressure better will be the winners.

It's going to be a great game & I am sure the stadium is going to be jam packed and the atmosphere is going to be electrifying. I am looking forward to seeing this game and I hope the quality of cricket lives up to the big occasion!!

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