Cricket: And then there were eight

By Andrew Alderson in Mumbai

Herald on Sunday's Andrew Alderson looks at the quarterfinal matchups and prepares for embarrassment by playing clairvoyant.

Pakistan v West Indies, Dhaka, Wednesday, 9.30pm

Pakistan (ranked Group A week-to-week: 3,2,2. Finish: 1)
Star? Shahid Afridi - top tournament wicket-taker with 17 at 11.47 and an economy rate of 3.54: total enigma.
Rock? Umal Gul - arguably the most consistent pace bowler at the tournament, lopes in with long levers and delivers on the spot.
Wildcard? Umar Akmal - Enjoys the ball coming on but could destroy the West Indies if one half volley comes out of the middle early.

West Indies (ranked Group B week-to-week: 5, 5, 3. Finish: 4)
Star? Kemar Roach - has 13 wickets at 12 and has been compared to the late Malcolm Marshall by manager Richie Richardson. Can he do it against a test-playing nation.
Rock? Devon Smith - opening the batting he has produced a century and two fifties with Chris Gayle rarely lighting up.
Wildcard? Kieron Pollard - in the top run scoring charts his strike rate of 158 obliterates all. His crisp wide-brimmed hat also leads the way in sartorial elegance.

The match:
Rubbing the lamp? Gayle hits a few towards the Ganges, Afridi rips through the lower order and the curator at the Shere Bangla National Stadium creates some bounce.
Worse case scenario? A clue: towards the end of pool play - South Africa 284 for eight; Bangladesh 78 all out.
Black swan event? Kamran Akmal steps on stage and says: "Tonight, Matthew I'm going to be Rod Marsh".
Clairvoyant? Pakistan go to Mohali.

Australia v India, Ahmedabad, Thursday, 10pm

Australia (ranked Group A week-to-week: 1, 1, 1. Finish: 3)
Star? Brett Lee - Keeps storming in and gives the batsman an evil grin or a whoop and a fist pump. When is he going to chart again with another Hindi duet? Mr Bollywood.
Rock? Mike Hussey - Can they rely on Mr Cricket one last time? Arguably the best Australian ODI player in a crisis since Michael Bevan.
Wildcard? Shaun Tait - The start of his second over to Brendon McCullum in Nagpur sums him up. No ball, wide, 4, dot ball, 4, wicket (caught).

India (ranked Group B week-to-week: 1, 1, 2. Finish: 2)
Star? Yuvraj Singh - In the past he's seemed more suited to Bollywood, now he's missed fifty once in the World Cup and has nine wickets including a five-for.
Rock? Sachin Tendulkar - One last shot for World Cup glory, anchoring from the top. When will the 100th test or one-day century be made?
Wildcard? Virender Sehwag - he might be too consistent for the term but is there a better player to win a match before India has bowled?

The match:
Rubbing the lamp? India bat and post a monster 300-plus then Ricky Ponting finds form in the chase with the hosts bowling attack under pressure.
Worse case scenario? India bat and post a monster 300-plus total then Ricky Ponting gets out cheaply again and Australia crumble for another measly 176. Yawn.
Black swan event? Virender Sehwag goes ballistic and gets 200. Then, late in the Australian chase, a sober version of Land Down Under is recited cheerfully in the dry state of Gujarat.
Clairvoyant? India goes to Mohali. Every cop shop and military base in the country gets a tinkle to see if they can spare a few staff next week.

New Zealand v South Africa, Dhaka, Friday

New Zealand (ranked Group A week-to-week: 4, 4, 2. Finish: 4)
Star? Ross Taylor - The only Kiwi centurion against a test-playing nation to date. Can he produce another wagon wheel through the leg-side that looks like an umbrella just bent back in a Wellington wind?
Rock? Daniel Vettori - As the world's number one-ranked ODI bowler his overs must go for nothing and then he must slap up a quick 40 or 50 to defend another slump, but not necessarily in that order.
Wildcard? Luke Woodcock - Are John Wright and Vettori seriously considering playing three frontline spinners on this pitch as the coach indicated the other day?

South Africa (ranked Group B week-to-week: 2, 2, 1. Finish: 1)
Star? AB de Villiers - one of only three batsmen to average over 100 and the only person to score two centuries at the tournament. Will his thigh injury recover?
Rock? Dale Steyn - A star too, but keeps trucking in. You'd probably rather have him than any other pace bowler on a slow deck.
Wildcard? Imran Tahir - the Pakistani-born leg-spinner debuted at this World Cup and has the lowest average at 9.83 after taking 12 wickets. The best kept tournament secret.

The match:
Rubbing the lamp? A re-enactment of the Stephen Fleming- ton which kept New Zealand in the 2003 World Cup against South Africa at Johannesburg. Brendon McCullum or Ross Taylor are cast in the lead role.
Worse case scenario? A re-enactment of Friday's loss to Sri Lanka. New Zealand promises the world in the field and delivers a tatty, dog-eared atlas with the bat.
Black swan event? Brendon McCullum produces a Kolkata Knight Riders 158 or Scott Styris brings home a chase like he did on his recall last summer against Australia.
Clairvoyant?
South Africa book their beds in Colombo and prepare for a choke next week.

Sri Lanka v England, Colombo, Saturday

Sri Lanka (ranked Group A week-to-week: 3, 3, 4. Finish: 2)
Star? Kumar Sangakkara - Highest average at the tournament (121) after his century against New Zealand. Could be the most likely skipper to have his hands on the coveted trophy in less than a fortnight.
Rocks? Mahela Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralitharan - could you ask for better stability? A former captain and run machine combined with the world's highest wicket-taker in tests and one-dayers
Wildcards? Lasith Malinga - if Sri Lanka was a thermometer being taken in and out of the fridge he would be the mercury - either lethal or leaking runs.

England (ranked Group B week-to-week: 3, 3, 4. Finish: 3)
Rock 1? Andrew Strauss - has delivered England from evil and kept his nerve numerous times with the leadership. Has the third most tournament runs at a 97 strike rate? Not bad for a "test player".
Rock 2? Jonathan Trott - the man nicknamed Booger after the Revenge of the Nerds series is second top runs scorer and proving there's life for him at number three in the England order.
Wildcards? Graeme Swann is the second-best one-day bowler in the world even if he loses, or more aptly curses, his rag on occasion when the ball gets soppy.

The match:
Rubbing the lamp? England replicate any of their last six matches. They'd have a better than even chance.
Worse case scenario? The rain rolls into Colombo again like against Australia.
Black swan event? The appropriately monikered Graeme Swann shreds one of the best spin playing line-ups in world cricket and England continue their unfancied run.
Clairvoyant? There is some mighty talent in this Sri Lankan outfit. It is a shame they are likely to meet South Africa before the final. They are potentially the best two teams.

Semi-final winners: Sri Lanka and India.

Tournament winner: Sri Lanka.

- Herald on Sunday

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