With the group stage done and dusted and the lesser teams going home (looking at you
England), the big boys will now get down to the knockout stage of the Cricket World Cup.
Every team has looked good during the group stage, but also very average. As a result the World Cup looks quite wide open.
The key could be maximising strengths and eliminating weaknesses as much as possible. Each team has a real strength and weakness, and they will be hoping that this continues throughout the knockout stage.
Strength: Mitchell Starc
Prior to summer, or prior to Shane Warne calling him soft, Starc was a peripheral bowler for Australia, in and out of the team without taking his opportunity. Post-Warne comment and he has been outstanding. His inswinging yorker has given batsmen nightmares, and Australia will be hoping he continues through to the final.
Weakness: Mitchell Johnson
Johnson as been strangely subdued throughout the tournament. He has picked up nine wickets but against New Zealand and Sri Lanka was cannon fodder, Tillakaratne Dilshan taking a particular liking to his bowling. An economy of 5.91 is high considering that games against the minnows will ensure this looks better than usual.
Strength: Sarfraz Ahmed
Reported to be offside with coach Waqar Younis before the tournament, he has played the last two games and has scored 101* and 49. With Pakistan having an incredibly thin batting line-up, scoring runs up front is massive.
Pakistan has to bowl a team out. Their bowling is based on wickets as opposed to containing the opposition. Even the fine victory over South Africa had the Proteas going at six runs an over. Misbah-ul-Haq’s captaincy has been aggressive, and it will need to be against Australia.
As can be expected with a World Cup that has been dominated by batting, South Africa has been at the forefront. The main man is AB de Villiers, and now is the stage for the captain to shine.
Weakness: Fifth bowler
They have tried using De Villiers, Behardien du Plessis and JP Duminy among others but they do need to find a way to get 10 quality overs somehow. Failing to do so could be pivotal to the game. Do we mention also that they have never won a knockout game?
Yes, it would be easy to go with Kumar Sangakkara, but the top four has been in fantastic form. How they go will be indicative of how they go as a team
Possibly the same issue that South Africa has. With Rangana Herath gone with injury, Angelo Matthews needs to work his bowlers well.
Strength: Mahmudullah Riyad
The first Bangladeshi to score a World Cup hundred liked it so much he did it twice. He was dropped on one by New Zealand but will need to contribute heavily again for the Tigers to create a massive upset.
They have spread the wickets around quite evenly but their favouring of spin could work to India’s batting strength. The key could be the MCG, it’s a big ground and slow bowlers can be hard to get away.
Strength: Dan Vettori
He has been incredible. Known as the 10-0-40-0 man, he has actually picked up key wickets as well. His introduction at Eden Park against Australia changed the game. He will no doubt have the Windies in knots, and can basically book in a 10 for 40-run performance now (if not better).
Weakness: Middle order
Apart from hardly having a bat, when they have had a chance they have barely done anything. Ross Taylor has looked a shadow of himself, Grant Elliott has had a couple of cameos and looked good but then got out.
Corey Anderson has been the most consistent but gets himself out (versus Australia and Bangladesh) by trying to force the issue too hard. Luke Ronchi also has done very little but will need to if the Black Caps are to go deeper.
Strength: Jason Holder
The West Indies are easily the most fortunate team to be in the quarter finals. Their best performance was against Pakistan, and they would need a similar performance to go further in the tournament.
Their strength is Holder, who could be a genuine all-rounder in years to come. The captaincy has actually helped him as a player. Holder would need to do something amazing but does seem capable.
Batsmen out of form, bowlers virtually all going over five an over. It would require a monumental effort for the West Indies to go further.
India have gone under the radar for most of the tournament, in part because their big game was South Africa early in the tournament. Their batting is massive and the wide areas of the MCG could see India score quite freely.
India have dropped more catches than they should have during the tournament. They also looked shabby in the field when Brendan Taylor was in full flight. If the opposition takes the game to them they do seem to wilt. It will be fascinating to see how they would go under sustained pressure.
All the teams will fancy their chances. Most quarter finals have a clear favourite but no team can be completely written off. It shapes as an excellent knockout stage, and it will be interesting who steps up, and who folds.
Australia will host this year’s postponed Twenty20 World Cup in 2022 with India retaining their tournament next year. The ICC also confirmed the women’s 50-over World Cup that was scheduled to be held in New Zealand in February-March next year has been postponed to 2022 following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cricket Australia interim […]