Monday, March 12, 2007

World Cup Preview - Group D

West Indies
  • Opinion: As someone who grew up in an era of West Indian dominance, it is simply painful to watch them on the field these days. The inclusion of Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons (yes, he's related to Phil, he's a nephew) smack of a desperate gamble, rather than calculated prescience. Like all the big name teams, they'll make it to the Super 8s, but that is likely to be by default than by dint of performance.
  • Ones to Watch: I'm not a fan of Lara, but you can never discount the man, and he's likely to make his last World Cup a big one. The ones who will make the difference though, are probably Ramnaresh Sarwan, who will hopefully do full justice to his talent at last, and Dwayne Bravo, who has an uncanny ability to pick up key wickets when it counts with the ball. If Gayle and Samuels fire as well, things might start to look up.
  • Prediction: The hosts never win, and that won't be changing this time. If it does, I'll do a Steve the Bajan (of fame from many years ago) and eat my hat. The hosts could in fact finish last in the Super 8 if they don't improve very very quickly.
  • Opinion: Now that they've been banned from speaking English, the tournament has been robbed of some of it's most reliable entertainment. I'm not sure that winning this matters to them in the way it mattered to Imran in 1992. That said, this is a team that you should never take your eyes off - they could entertain us by bowling the West Indians out for 50, or by being bowled out for 75 by Canada. Pay attention.
  • Ones to Watch: I think the late inclusion, Azhar Mahmood, could be a fortuitous selection for Inzy and his merry men. Here's a player with talent, who will be out to prove that he should have been part of this teams core, rather than a journeyman on the county circuit. If he struts his stuff with bat and ball, he will be fun to watch, and could make a mockery of my prediction.
  • Prediction: They will walk away with Group D, and then wonder what went wrong after that when they come up against some teams that are actually in the mix.
  • Opinion: They have a few players with first class experience in their squad, including the captain, who hails from Australia, but fundamentally they just seem to be out of their depth. Their big game is of course against Zimbabwe, and they are a chance to claim a test-nation scalp there. I suppose though, that this is the group that any minnow would have wanted to be in - WI, Pak and Zim are the three countries who are surely the most likely to throw (no match-fixing implication implied) it away against a lesser opponent.
  • Ones to Watch: Eoin Morgan is just 20, and is already hailed as a future England batsman, and the next Ed Joyce. Fellow lefty Will Porterfield appears to be a raging talent as well, and he has a great chance to show that he can lift it up a level against the big boys. Completing the southpaw triumverate is South African Andre Botha, who had a great run out against the boks recently, and will be looking to carry that form through.
  • Prediction: I'll go out on a limb, purely to be different, and say that Ireland will upset Zimbabwe and sneak 3rd place in the group.
  • Opinion: I've paid very little attention to Zimbabwe cricket in recent years, but I'm pretty certain that without even the plucky Taitenda Taibu to keep them going, they are going to struggle to make any sort of impression on this tournament. The bowling and fielding are athletic and energetic, but I just don't see where the runs are going to come from. They are here for the experience, and will be hoping their young side return in 2011 as a force to be reckoned with.
  • Ones to Watch: I really have no idea. I'll be watching to see if Matsikinyeri finally shows some glimpses of his underlying talent, but other than that, I'm just not excited.
  • Prediction: Last place in the group after a narrow loss to Ireland.

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