The world is coming down, the flags are up!
World Cup preparations have reached fever pitch and speculations about which teams are best placed to reach the semi-finals and who will land cricket’s most coveted prize are rife.
Although I am not a cricket expert, I do have my very own semi-final line-up.
After all if Imran Khan has already picked a winner, why can’t I?
My choices are as follows:
It is a little foolhardy to predict what an unpredictable team will do. The Pakistan team has often left those who dare to make predictions about them dumbfounded. The setback of the talented trio’s bans aside, mercurial Afridi’s captaincy, has managed to unite the team.
Young openers Muhammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shahzad in good form at the top and Misbah and Younis settling down nicely, the batting look to be in good hands. And if Umar Akmal, Afridi or Razzaq are on fire one day, God help the opposition.
The bowling too is full of talent. Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz have visibly improved while Shoaib Akhtar is perhaps poised for a brilliant swansong. Let’s hope that Pakistan do justice to their potential.
While it may be considered downright traitorous for a Pakistani to be predicting India’s success, my choice is based on their recent performance. For success in any walk of life, a calm head at the helm is vital and for cricket-crazy Indians, the ice-cool M S Dhoni fits the bill perfectly. Their batting arsenal needs no introduction, so gifted are they that even if big guns like Sehwag, Tendulkar and Gambhir do not fire (a highly unlikely possibility), they still have formidable youngsters like Kohli, Raina and Rohit Sharma.
While their bowling is an arguably weaker point, you can never completely write off a side that has Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh in their ranks. That being said, the team’s batting has so much firepower that it can easily make-up for their fragile bowling attack.
Chokers or no chokers, no one can deny that the Proteas are the second best (if not the best) team on the planet. With their bearded run-machine Amla churning out 50s and centuries at will, AB de Villiers and skipper Smith looking to blast every ball out of the park, and the ever-dependable Kallis there to bring sanity back to the proceedings, they have one hell of a batting line-up. The fearsome pace-bowling duo of Steyn and Morkel have the ability to bring unavoidable destruction where ever they go.
England’s recent mauling at the hands of Australia may make them seem like a more far-fetched choice than Pakistan but the English undoubtedly have what it takes to reach the final four.
With Ian Bell finally starting to show what a class act he really is and Strauss, Pietersen and Collingwood all having the capacity to put their recent misery behind them and sink their teeth into opposing attacks, it would be hardly surprising if England do well.
Here’s to hoping that the World Cup turns out to be a true cracker and the men in green bring the cup home!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.