Cricket World Cup 2011 Semi Final Preview

Sri Lanka v New Zealand in Colombo Tuesday 29th March

Sri Lanka comes into this Semi having thrashed England by 10 wickets chasing 230 to win. New Zealand beat South Africa extraordinarily by 49 runs as South Africa where chasing only 221 to win.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has the best opening partnership of the tournament. This is quite surprising as I thought that either India or South Africa would be have most successful opening partnership prior to the tournament.  India has Tendulkar and Sehwag and South Africa has Smith & Amla. The Sri Lanka openers of Dilshan & Tharanga have had two double century partnership in this World Cup which is World Cup record as never before has the same World Cup had two double century partnerships. Sri Lanka will look to their openers to carry on this success against New Zealand.

Sri Lanka some may argue have the best combination at No 3 and No 4 of all the teams in the tournament in Sangakkara and Jayawardene. These two have both scored centuries in this tournament and are also proven match winners over the years.

Sri Lanka will look to these four for most if not all their runs if they are to beat New Zealand as the rest of the batting line-up are inexperienced and aren’t  in the same  calibre of the top four.

However if Sri Lanka’s top four fail then the following three Samaraweera, Silva and Mathews will have to make a significant contribution if they are to beat New Zealand.

Sri Lanka bowlers are in form and with Dilshan opening the bowling gives them more option with the ball. Sri Lanka in the Semi Final will look to bowl 35-40 overs of spin. They also have seam bowling options in Malinga and Mathews for the remaining overs as well.

New Zealand

New Zealand is in to their sixth semi final and has never reached the Final.

New Zealand will look to their batting as it is much stronger than their bowling. New Zealand will look to McCullum as opener to contribute a big score as he hasn’t had a great world cup with the bat by his own high standards. Ryder, Taylor, Styris numbers 3, 4 and 5 they will look for healthy contributions. The New Zealand does have batting depth with the likes of Nathan McCullum, Oram and Vettori in the lower order that can’t be underestimated.

New Zealand bowling is their weak link but will take heart from Oram who took four crucial wickets against South Africa. They will look to their inspirational captain Vettori for his spin bowling to take bulk of the wickets. Also they will also be relying on Nathan McCullum and Oram to take the remainder of the wickets.

I think that Sri Lanka will beat New Zealand to reach the final because of their superior batting but especially their bowling. New Zealand will find it very difficult to score many runs of the spinners such Murali & Mendis.
Pakistan v India in Mohali Wednesday 30th March

Pakistan comes in to this semi final having thrashed West Indies by 10 wickets. West Indies bowled out for just 112 and Pakistan eased to victory in only 20.5 overs. India overcame Australia by 5 wickets and ended their reign as World Cup Champions.


Pakistan opening partnership has failed throughout the tournament until the Quarter Final win an unbeaten opening partnership of 113 between Kamran Akmal and Mohammed Hafeez. Pakistan will hope this form continues against India in the Semi Final. However Pakistan has the strongest batting depth of all the teams in this tournament with Razzaq batting at 8 who could easily open the innings for Pakistan.

The great find for Pakistan in this World Cup has been Asad Shafiq who has batted at number three in his two world cup innings so far and has performed well as it is the hardest position in the batting order to bat and he is still very young in age & experience at International level.

However If the top three fail they still have proven match winners in Khan, Misbah, Umar Akmal, Afridi and Razzaq at numbers 4-8. Pakistan will look to build a solid platform to give the likes of Umar, Afridi and Razzaq late on to come in play their natural game either to set a total or if chasing to get them to victory.

Pakistan’s bowling has been outstanding throughout the whole tournament and Pakistan has the leading wicket taker in the whole tournament in Afridi.

Afridi has an astonishing 21 wickets at an average of just under 11 so far in the tournament. He has lead from the front as Captain throughout the whole World Cup and has bamboozled the batsmen. I think he will continue to take wickets against India as well.

Umar Gul has been a revelation with the new ball in recent matches as he has usually comes on as 2nd or 3rd change as he so devastating with the older ball in the middle overs and also towards the end of the innings as well.

Abdul Razzaq who has often in the tournament opened the bowling has done well for Pakistan but in the last match Pakistan experimented with him coming on as the sixth bowler and was successful.

Mohammed Hafeez has also been a revelation as he has picked up wickets at vital times and also proved in the last game he can bowl with the new ball and economically.

Abdul Rehman has played most of the games and has done reasonably well and Saeed Ajmal came in and was in great form in the Quarter Final.

Shohaib Akhtar played in the first few games and hasn’t played since. Wahab Riaz has come in for Sohaib Akhtar but has surprisingly been disappointing because his medium pace is well suited to these pitches.


India has the most devastating opening partnership in whole tournament in Tendulkar and Sehwag. These two can score so quickly and also can bat long into the innings and can take the game away from any opposition.

Sehwag was in devastating in the opening match of the whole tournament against Bangladesh scoring 175 off only 140 balls and India posted 370-4 in their 50 overs which to date has been the highest score of the tournament. The only other innings of note Sehwag has had is 73 off 66 balls against South Africa.

Tendulkar has been in sensational form with the bat and also very consistent throughout. He passed a staggering 18,000 ODI runs and also scored his 99th International Century (Test and ODI combined).  He has made only two centuries 120 off 115 balls against England, 111 off 101 balls against South Africa but has got starts in his other innings except for one innings.

India will be relying heavily on these two to give them a huge start with the bat as they are the two best batsmen in their line-up.

India’s middle order hasn’t collectively performed through out the tournament. They have individually performed in certain times in certain games with the likes of Yuvraj, Dhoni, kohli and Gambhir. India has had some sensational collapses in this tournament against South Africa 9-29 and West Indies 5-28.

India will be looking to Gambhir, Yuvraj & Dhoni to make a sizeable contribution in either setting a total or chasing.

Indian bowling with the exception of Zaheer Khan has been below par. Zaheer khan is the 2nd highest wicket taker in the whole tournament with 17 wickets so far with an average just over 16.

Yuvraj Singh surprisingly has 11 wickets with Munaf Patel the second seamer with only 9 wickets.

Harbhajan Singh astonishingly has the worst bowling record in the whole tournament so far his taken only 6 wickets with an average of almost 50.

I believe that this game will be a very close affair and has the potential to be the best game in the whole tournament and may even go down to the last few overs in the second innings.

Pakistan if they play the same 11 as in the quarterfinal will edge the game against India. They will edge it because of their strong bowling unit as they have all the variety of bowling for all surfaces.

by Zaheer Haque


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