Recently, India completed their eleventh straight home Test series win, a streak going all the way back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2013.
The group stage of the Cricket World Cup is over, and we now move on to the knockout stages, with India, Australia, England and New Zealand left to compete for the crown. The Roar’s Cricket World Cup expert tipping panel are here to guide you through the semi-finals.
With 45 games in the bag, the four teams who everyone thought were going to qualify for the finals have done just that, although it maybe wasn’t quite as easy as the majority were thinking.
A couple of upsets here and there in the group stage kept things fairly interesting, and as a result, it came down to the last week, with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka unable to get over the line ahead of the knockout games.
Instead, India snatched top spot on the final day of the round robin against Australia and as a result qualified in first.
It means they can avoid England in the first knockout game, instead heading to Manchester where they will play their fourth game in nine days against New Zealand, who more or less limped into the semi-finals after a pretty fast start against the lesser teams at the tournament.
Australia’s loss to South Africa means that they have to hit the road one more time, going from Manchester to Birmingham, where they will step onto their ground of horrors at Edgbaston to take on tournament hosts England, who are just starting to click at the right time.
It sets up a couple of intriguing semi-finals, with the winners to then head back to London for the final at Lord’s on Sunday.
With everyone on the panel, including The Crowd, claiming five tips in the final week of the round robin, it means we maintain the status quo heading into the final week, and David Schout is going to be tough to catch.
He leads on 32, with Daniel Jeffrey on 31. Ronan is on 30, Dan Liebke on 27, and me on 26. The Crowd sit on 30 alongside Ronan.
With just three games to go in the tournament, David, barring a disaster, is shaping up as the champion.
The deadline to have your tips as part of The Crowd’s figures (by using the form below) is at 6pm (AEST) on Monday evening ahead of the first game of the week.
Tips: India, Australia
The Kiwis batting is a mess, having made just 186, 157 and 237 in their last three matches, all of which were defeats. They have lost all their momentum at the worst possible time. India, meanwhile, are cruising along, having finished top of the table with just one loss for the tournament.
New Zealand have plenty of talent but the damning stat is that, in this World Cup, they have not beaten even one of the other four highest-ranked teams. They lost to Australia, England and Pakistan and their match against India was rained out. With their batting lineup misfiring, I just can’t see how New Zealand will beat India, who have the best bowling attack in the tournament.
What a blockbuster. The world’s number one ODI team, England have regained momentum over their past two matches and their batting is looking in fine touch once again. Australia, meanwhile, have had a fantastic tournament and thrashed England recently.
Both teams are similarly scary when they bat first. The tiebreaker, then, is their chasing ability. England have been poor when chasing in this tournament, losing three out of four times, and falling apart in their last two chases against Australia and Sri Lanka.
Australia haven’t fared much better, losing two out of three times when chasing. But in both of those unsuccessful chases they did put in a fine effort, making 316 against India and 315 against South Africa. Australia have been more impressive batting second in this tournament than England so I’m tipping the Aussies to win a nailbiter.
Tips: India, England
India have shown throughout the World Cup that they’re a side with depth. New Zealand on the other hand, particularly with the bat, have relied on far too few. Virat Kohli’s side have already played twice at Old Trafford this tournament, for two comfortable wins. Unless the Black Caps’ quicks take two or three wickets in the powerplay, it’s hard to see them being in with a chance. India for me.
Had Australia beaten South Africa on Sunday morning they’d have remained in Manchester for a more straightforward semi-final against New Zealand.
But as it turns out, a suddenly battered and bruised Aussie outfit now head down the highway to a raucous Birmingham, where the (now) in-form England simply love to play. The importance of the toss can’t be understated, and both sides would prefer to bat first at what is a tough venue for away sides. With a re-instilled belief, I think England will get up in a close one.
Tips: New Zealand, England
Give me New Zealand. Mostly because I assume everybody else will tip India and I don’t want to be boring. How will they do it? Let’s say Trent Boult takes early wickets to limit the India total and then Kane Williamson sublimes his way to a match-winning knock.
Based on form, you’ve got to say England. Playing on their favourite ground, coming off wins over the other two semi-finalists, with Australia injury-riddled. I’m with Nathan Lyon. It’s England’s World Cup to lose.
Tips: India, England
New Zealand were fortunate to miss out on India in the group stage thanks to poor weather. It may very well have been the difference between making and missing the semis, but their luck won’t extend to the knockout stage.
The Black Caps batting just isn’t deep enough against when pitted against the all-round quality of India and their attack. We saw in an ODI series earlier in the year that Kane Williamson’s men just don’t have the strength to match it with their opponents consistently.
If someone – Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson would seem the most likely culprits – can snag Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early, New Zealand might pull this off. But even then, they’re going to need far more from all their batsmen whose last names aren’t Williamson. Against the best attack in the comp, I can’t see that necessary improvement coming.
Australia’s loss to South Africa has turned them from tournament favourites into semi-final underdogs. There’s no doubt they’d rather be playing a New Zealand side yet to prove themselves against one of the top sides than England, who are at home and finding form at the right time.
Two main factors jump out here: Australia’s fitness and the toss.
If Marcus Stoinis and Usman Khawaja can’t play, it forces Justin Langer’s side into two major changes for a knockout game – far from ideal. And while Mitch Marsh might be able to offer more than Stoinis has this tournament, Khawaja has been a better contributor than he’s been given credit for.
The toss is massive – could very well be an ‘elect to win’ scenario. Both England and Australia prefer chasing, and their best performances this tournament have come batting first. This should be a belter, and while Aaron Finch and co got the job done a few weeks ago, I’ll take England to exact their revenge and set up the final match-up we all predicted before this World Cup started.
Tips: India, Australia
As you’d expect at this stage of the tournament, both games are pretty tough to tip, and I’m looking forward to them, although there is definitely an argument to be had that one of these games could end up one-sided.
That of course, is India. They are an excellent cricket team who, with the exception of that baffling old chase against England, have just been in fine form.
Their bowling attack is unquestionably the best in the world, and while they didn’t get a chance to play New Zealand during the round robin due to rain, they should go into this game as heavy favourites, particularly when you consider the form of the Black Caps top order.
If Martin Guptill can’t find a way to fire, then this might be all over as a contest pretty quickly.
The other game is intriguing. Australia return to their house of horrors at Edgbaston though, which must give England some confidence, even if they did lose the game earlier in the tournament.
The Poms have a stack of pressure on them at home, and I have a funny feeling they might shut down under that level of scrutiny, as they almost did during the group stage.
Australia have some fitness issues, but funnily enough, being able to bat Steve Smith at three and bring someone like Matthew Wade or Peter Handscomb in probably makes them a stronger side.
Australia to win a classic.
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