Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The first round of matches finished to today with the West Indies sneaking a win over the out-of-sorts Aussies. So far no batsman has made 100 and both seam-up, accurate medium pace and spin bowling has caused trouble on some less than perfect Indian pitches.

Time to reflect on what the rest of the tournament may hold with a team-by-team run down on who's hot and who's looking shot so far.

India are now 9/4 favourites with William Hill for the trophy. Their pace bowlers looked the part against a hapless England in the opening match, however their batsmen are still yet to find the sort of form that will deliver the home-side the trophy. Now that the Windies are on song, having beaten the world champions today, it's quite possible India might face an early exit. If their batsmen don't make big improvements expect them to lose to Brian Lara's men and the Aussies.

Australia are 3/1 second favourites even after their disappointing result today. The Aussies will be happy that Adam Gilchrist has returned with a bang, making 92 today. However they seem insistant on continuing to open up with Shane Watson and their middle order are looking sloppy. Their bowling has been nothing special and unless they beat India Ponting's men will probably go out in the first round.

Pakistan can be had to lift the trophy at 9/2. Even without Inzamam, Ahktar and Asif they have one win on the bag and look ready to go onto better things. Razzaq is clearly enjoying the big stage and is pressing for man of the tournament after his all round performance that included taking 4-50 and hitting a quickfire 38 to see his team home against the Sri Lankans. Expect them to win their next two games as well and finish top of the group.

You can still get 7/1 on the West Indies. Now they only really have to beat England to be sure of a place in the semi-finals and if the Aussies beat England on Saturday the pressure will be on India when they meet on the 26th. Lara continued his good form, and with runs in seemingly short supply in this tournament this will be re-assuring for their supporters. Expect the Windies to definately qualify for the Semi's.

Sri-Lanka are also 7/1 and looked good against Pakistan in a tight game. Their top 5 batsmen are all scoring runs and this should be enough to see them passed the South Africans and the Kiwi's. Expect Sri-Lanka to go through with Pakistan.

New-Zealand are 7/1 chances as well after winning against the Saffers. Only skipper Stephen Fleming scored runs in their victory over South Africa, they look likely to lose to both Sri-Lanka and Pakistan.

South Africa are 10/1 shots. Graeme Smith's men were not convincing in the slightest against the Kiwis and should be no match for Pakistan or Sri-Lanka. Having said that both these teams are prone to bad days and judging on their current form, all the the saffers can hope for is that they both have one.

England are way out at 33/1 which says it all really. Harmisons radar is on the blink again and their batsmen are getting out in single figures. Can KP and Freddie save the day? Flintoff should revert to his favourite number 5 slot, KP in 4 and Yardy or Dalrymple at 3. It is more likely, however they stick with the current experiment and go to Australia having lost 3 out of 3.

Predictions for semi-finals? Sri-Lanka beat the West Indies and Australia beat Pakistan


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