We're about 14 matches into the 2011 Cricket World Cup, and it's been nothing short of awesome! Here are my thoughts on the key matches, which gave me a lot of insights on how things are going to pan out in the tournament.
First Match, Group B: Bangladesh v India at Dhaka—Feb 19, 2011
India 370/4 (50 ov); Bangladesh 283/9 (50 ov)
India won by 87 runs
Thoughts: This match went as expected, but the bowling for India was such a disappointment. The batsmen put up a huge total, and India had a tough time defending it. Granted it was a great track to bat on and had little for the bowlers, but having said that, I expected the Indian bowlers to get all 10 wickets. As for Bangladesh, it shows they have real grit and determination with some serious talent. I think maybe five to six years down the line, Bangladesh could be a formidable Asian team.
Fifth Match, Group B: England v Netherlands at Nagpur—Feb 22, 2011
Netherlands 292/6 (50 ov); England 296/4 (48.4 ov)
England won by six wickets (with eight balls remaining)
Thoughts: Now England were possibly at their worst here. I think it was a bit of complacency which almost let Ireland sneak through, but it just shows that no team can afford to relax and take it easy.
Seventh Match, Group B: South Africa v West Indies at Delhi—Feb 24, 2011
West Indies 222 (47.3 ov); South Africa 223/3 (42.5 ov)
South Africa won by seven wickets (with 43 balls remaining)
Thoughts: The South African might was on display here, both bowling and batting, as they literally walked through the West Indies. South Africa is looking good so far and the West Indies will need to start rethinking their game plan.
Eighth Match, Group A: Australia v New Zealand at Nagpur—Feb 25, 2011
New Zealand 206 (45.1 ov); Australia 207/3 (34 ov)
Australia won by seven wickets (with 96 balls remaining)
Thoughts: Australia is probably the other team so far who's looking solid. Apart from all the injuries their players are facing, they're putting up a good fight. I'm skeptical about the Kiwis going any further here, but they have a tendency to bounce back.
10th Match, Group A: Sri Lanka v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS)—Feb 26, 2011
Pakistan 277/7 (50 ov); Sri Lanka 266/9 (50 ov)
Pakistan won by 11 runs
Thoughts: Now this match was awesome. When it looked like Sri Lanka were going to win, the Pakistan bowling just sprung to life and literally cleaned their clocks. Pakistan looks solid now. Sri Lanka needed to come out and play a little sensibly going forward.
11th Match, Group B: India v England at Bangalore—Feb 27, 2011
India 338 (49.5 ov); England 338/8 (50 ov)
Thoughts: As far as matches go, this has to be my pick of the tournament so far. It showed that the Indian bowling is weak and their fielding is nothing to write home about as well. Their batting on the other hand looks rock solid. But it begs the question: "For how long?" The dependency on the batting to fire at all times will be India's undoing in this tournament. England, on the other hand, showed why they are called the "Dark Horses" of this group. I think their batting is strong and the bowling can cause more trouble than bargained for if caution is thrown to the wind.
What to Expect Now?
Needs to get their bowling and fielding in order if they're to make it far. They seem to depend so much on their batting for the big scores, it's going to be a disappointment when their bowling fails. The way they're going now, I will need to peg India a little lower than expected.
They blow hot and they blow cold. I still think they're going to make it to the next round, but I'll reserve my comments for now.
Formidable as ever. All doubts on their performance levels have been put to rest. Still early days, but if they continue in this form, we can expect them to go all the way. Injuries are worrying them, but their great bench strength will bail them out.
Just need to focus. Don't let complacency sink in, and I'm sure they're going all the way.
Probably the best of the lot right now. They will only get better and better as the tournament progresses. In their currently form, the only that will stop them is their World Cup jinx.
They're my favourite right now. It's the passion backed up by sheer talent that's got my money on them. They just need to be consistent and continue to focus on their strengths.
I'm looking hard at this side and it's very difficult to say anything right now. They seem so good against the weaker sides, but crumble against the more experienced teams. I'd like to see them fight hard and not give up. Having said that, I don't see them going to the next round.
Again, I can't see them going far; I just think New Zealand have given up on themselves more than anything else. They're seem like they're ready to settle for what they can get. I somehow didn't see any sort of fight back from any of the Kiwis. I don't want to write them off, but if they continue this way, they're going home early.
Overall, it's probably a little premature to make such bold predictions, but I'm again counting on some of the teams to bounce back, especially India and Sri Lanka. I see Pakistan, South Africa and Australia going forward strongly and the rest of teams fading away in the next few matches.
There you have it, folks! Let's hear your thoughts and comments!