Has the ICC found a Paul for this World Cup? Do they have an aquarium that they can play the World Cup in, like the soccer World Cup in South Africa? Can they quickly ask the Bangladeshis to scout for one?
My hunch is that they might return with a Hilsa—a fish that all Bengalis, including the Dada of Indian cricket also known as Saurav Ganguly, believe is the most delightful of foods for the entire mankind. But the moot point is: Can Hilsa predict? And, can it predict like Paul?
Until such time that they find one, I shall take it upon myself to bring you predictions that have been made by various pundits, arm chair and otherwise. There's a caveat, of course: I am not responsible for these predictions coming true.
Being an Indian, I shall begin with Team India. It is extremely likely that one of the batsmen might become a keeper as well, by the end of the tournament. This prediction is based on a deep desire expressed by the chairman of selectors in private conversations with his milkman, his optician and his astrologer. And the desire is to find a new keeper for the next World Cup.
Let me now hop across the border to Pakistan. Everybody agrees that they have always been the most unpredictable team in world cricket, and its a brave man who will hazard a guess about the kind of spot they will want to settle in. But then, let me be brave, putting together all the ifs and butts that they have.
A soothsayer sitting in the ISI office has said that it is very likely that Pakistan will have a new captain by the time they enter the knockout phase. Of course, they will have to make sure that they don't knock themselves out before that, as they have a reputation that they mostly work hard to protect.
Coming back to the captaincy issue, the initial plan was that they will allow every player to captain the side, even if it's for just a power play. Such power plays between players will ultimately decide as to who will have the captain's powers. However, the Afridi supporters have prevailed for now, but nobody wants to say that there wouldn't be a revolt, or a coup as the neighbours have had in their politics several times.
Bangladesh. Well, they might also have a new captain soon, but that will be after the World Cup. Because they are committed to creating a team of ex-skippers who will play under a new captain, and that's why all in this Hilsa-obsessed nation are praying for Mashrafe Mortaza to recover quickly from his injuries.
Sri Lanka will try very hard to prove Arjuna Ranatunga wrong, and most pundits believe that they will succeed in not winning this cup. England are poised to have a new team by the time they play their last match in this tournament, and their biggest pressure will be medical.
Australia are poised to be the surprise packet of this world cup by beating all the minnows that cross their path. West Indies will try very hard to ensure that Michael Holding doesn't have to compare their score board to a telephone number, but all the broadcasters want that expression repeated. The Calypso might just oblige.
New Zealand have always been the easiest team to predict about, barring an instance when a Crowe had a Patel and a Greatbatch as openers. Sadly, they now have a Daniel in exit mode, and a Ross that's defied all predictions and expectations. The prediction that's almost certain to come true is that they will use this world cup as a preparation for the next one.
South Africa. Will choke. Will not choke. Will. Wouldn't. Let's wait for the Hilsa.
The last one is very simple: This World Cup will have a winner. The Hilsa may not have any say here.