Cricket: World Cup power rankings

Cricket correspondent Andrew Alderson is working for nzherald.co.nz at the World Cup.

He is ranking the teams for us on a week-to-week basis, judging from what he hears and observes at the tournament.

Power rankings - week 2
Power rankings - week 1

Group A
1. Australia (Last week: 1, week one: 1)
Sunday night's win against Kenya was the first Australia had completed in over two weeks but not being able to bowl them out is a concern. They remain favourites for the pool but more on pedigree than actual performance. Mike Hussey's return is welcome but Ricky Ponting is still struggling for form. He has not had a half century in any international format since 51 not out in the first Ashes test in late November. The match against Pakistan this week offers the best gauge to Australia's situation.

2. New Zealand (Last week: 4, week one: 4)
The big movers in group A after demolishing Pakistan in Pallekele. Suddenly their batting plan looks sound, working to John Wright's effective "no more than three wickets in the first 35 overs" theory.

A win over Sri Lanka should see them at least second in the group and facing weaker last eight opposition. The bowling attack looks compromised without Daniel Vettori and then losing Kyle Mills early against Canada. Mumbai's wicket was a belter but not dismissing Canada is a concern.

3. Pakistan (Last week: 2, week one: 2)
Last week this column asked whether Pakistan had a tipping point; as it happens they do. The loss to New Zealand proved it. From a team who have looked like potential finalists they could struggle to progress beyond the quarter-finals. Interestingly, if India meet Pakistan in the last eight there is talk it could be moved from Ahmedabad to Colombo or Dhaka to avoid terrorism threats.

4. Sri Lanka (Last week: 3, week one: 3)
A record World Cup opening partnership of 282 against Zimbabwe was a chance for Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan to blast but the rest of the batsmen only had 5.2 overs at the crease. Then the opening bowlers could not dismiss anyone, leaving it instead to Dilshan and Muttiah Muralitharan. Can only really stamp a mark and appease their public with a win over New Zealand.

5. Zimbabwe (Last week: 5, week one: 5)
Last night's loss to Pakistan ended their slim hopes of making the quarterfinals though they could finish on a high against Kenya. Have shown some mettle to prove they are worthy to return to the international circuit. Need to keep involving past players like Heath Streak, Grant Flower and Alistair Campbell - people who can make a cricketing difference.

6. Canada (Last week: 6, week one: 6)
Earning some respect with their finish after narrowly losing to Pakistan, although they should have chased down 184. New Zealand destroyed their village bowling attack on a flat pitch but Canada avoided being dismissed in their 50 overs to lose by 97 runs. Must put away Kenya to sustain credibility.

7. Kenya (Last week: 7, week one: 7)
A win against Canada could rectify a sorry tournament but did earn respect in Bangalore against Australia. They lost by just 60 runs after Australia posted 324 for six. A cruel finish for first drop Collins Obuya, stranded on 98.

Cricket World Cup standings
Cricket World Cup fixtures

Group B

1. South Africa (Last week: 2, week one: 2)
Capitulated against England but responded by defeating India, chasing down a target of 297. Their side is still balanced enough to make at least a final; add in some ticker and they are tournament favourites. Take Dale Steyn. He gets tonked by the Indian top order, going for 34 runs from his opening four overs. He returns later, albeit with India hitting out, and takes five wickets for four runs from his last three.

2. India (Last week: 1, week one: 1)
The pressure is telling after crumbling to South Africa despite what seemed an invincible start. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar (with his 99th century in tests or one-dayers) and Gautam Gambhir scored 253 of the 296 total. Then the inexplicable - nine wickets for 29 runs. South Africa won with two balls to spare on the equivalent to an airport runway. India's bowling had few answers. Local 'heroes' like skipper MS Dhoni, who endorse anything from shoes to suits to whisky, need to match their skills with their incomes or such deals will seem hollow. As one newspaper headlined it: The choke is on India. The match against the West Indies is a must-watch.

3. West Indies (Last week: 5, week one: 5)
Have progressed steadily and shape as a possible opponent for New Zealand in the quarter-finals. They might be ranked eighth in the world but have succeeded where it counts - but they have not negotiated India or England. The likes of Kieron Pollard and Devon Smith with the bat and Kemar Roach, Sulieman Benn and Darren Sammy with the ball have ensured lesser teams were dispatched to boost run rate. As good as they could have hoped to be heading into the last week of group play.

4. England (Last week: 3, week one: 3)
Drop a spot this week but could plummet further and end the summer as far back in one-dayers as they are ahead in tests. Their press are beside themselves with uncertainty but you would be too if your team had been involved in arguably the five tightest finishes of the tournament to date, including the India tie. They make New Zealand look like metronomes despite their recent record on the subcontinent.

5. Bangladesh (Last week: 6, week one: 4)
Pipped England which means they are back in the reckoning for the last eight, but barely. Have played all their matches at home but will likely need to beat South Africa in their final game. That's ambitious.

6. Ireland (Last week: 5, week one: 5)
Have been the associate countries' poster child throughout. They have not slackened despite facing all manner of stern tests with South Africa to come. Could still make the last eight but need other results to go their way. Obviously there have been star efforts from the likes of Kevin O'Brien to beat England but most have contributed. They also competed strongly against the West Indies and India, even if it did not result in the same glory.

7. The Netherlands (Last week: 7, week one: 7)
Flattened by the West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh, they were stoic against England and India. Gone by the end of the week but scoreboard attendants who search for letters like demented scrabble players might be relieved to have seen the last of opening bat Eric Szwarczynski. Commentators are probably smiling, too. Just out of interest if you whacked his name down as a proper noun on a scrabble board it'd be worth 43 points... and that's without any double or triple word bonuses.

- Herald on Sunday

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