Before the tournament started, I put my neck on the line with a series of predictions. With the tournament now well underway and halfway through the group phase, how do these stack up?
I did pick out Bangladesh as the most likely of the minnows to cause an upset, and predicted a close run thing between Ireland and Zimbabwe. However, I really couldn’t see the Pakistan upset coming out of Ireland. That result, though, vindicates the presence of the ICC five in the tournament.
Unfortunately, most of the other games featuring the minnows have been as one-sided as initially predicted. However, if, as seems likely, at least two of them progress to the Super 8, that will be a good return and two more than most were predicting. And the reason for saying “at least two” is that the Kenya – England shoot out for the Super 8s could be a lot closer than England would like.
I wrote in the article about India “Like Pakistan, there are too many weaknesses and too many other good teams for India to progress to the semi-final stages, and with Bangladesh in their group (with Sri Lanka and Bermuda), it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they may not even make the Super 8 stage.” Which puts me well above Glenn McGrath in the prediction stakes.
The third member of the possibles, the West Indies, started well with their win against Pakistan. However, it will be difficult to know how good they are until the Super 8 stages
Both have reverted to type, with Australia smashing the Dutch and the Scots all over the place, while England struggled against New Zealand and looked less than convincing against Canada.
Australia’s next game, against South Africa, should be a bit more of a test of their credentials and having suffered the losses to England and new Zealand, it will be interesting to see how they perform once the pressure is back on.
In England’s defence, they had the worst of the batting conditions against New Zealand. Also, with the recent problems with team discipline and the very public dressing down of Flintoff, team spirit could be at an all time low, or the whole thing could have drawn them together. They will be confident of improving as the tournament goes on. However, the winner takes all game against Kenya is by no means a walkover.
Probably far to early to say yet, as they’ve only played one game each. However, New Zealand’s comprehensive defeat of England, and in particular the bowling of Shane Bond, is the biggest marker set down during the first week.
Sri Lanka and South Africa enjoyed comfortable wins over the weakest two teams in the tournament.
Having stuck my neck out a bit at the start of the tournament, I’m glad to see that Bangladesh in particular haven’t let me down. All of a sudden the rest of the group phase looks much more interesting than it would have first seemed, with only the South Africa – Australia group looking comfortable for the big boys.