Game 7: Pakistan vs SA
If SA somehow manages to lose its first game against warm-up experts India, this will be do-or-die for them. And we all know about SA and do-or-die games, Gary Kirsten or not.
Pakistan, on the other hand, won’t play any different irrespective of its first result against WI. If it had to self-detonate, it will- and only Pakistan and Nasir Jamshed can decide how good a batting team they can be.
Key players- AB, Faff, Steyn for SA. Nasir, Afridi for Pakistan.
Prediction: a pulsating Pakistan win, made of domination.
Game 8: India vs WI
Team India, by now, will have got its batting order right. Also, a loss in any of these games could begin a flurry of warm-up match jokes, and this could be Dhoni’s last ICC tournament in charge. WI have nothing to lose as usual, and enter every tournament as glorious no-hopers. They are already defending t20 champions and have won this in 2004 before Australia took over. This could be their tournament.
Key players- Jadeja for India. Sammy for WI. All-rounders galore.
Prediction: an Indian victory. West or not, tough to say. Sir could have the last laugh.
Game 9: Australia vs NZ
NZ have a tendency to overperform in such tournaments, having already won this trophy more than a decade ago. That remains the only major silverware in their cabinet in their entire cricket history, while Australia have enough silver to be invaded. Still, as shocking as it may sound, the NZ odi team is better than Australia’s young and clueless team coming into the ICC CT 2013.
Key players- taylor for NZ. Warner, Watson for Aus.
Prediction- expect a big one from one of the Ws. Australia’s to lose, despite their stunning 243-run loss to India in the warmups.
Game 10: England vs SL
This is an interesting matchup- and a lot depends on their previous results. England play at home, and that matters massively against the likes of home giants SL- who have made 4 of the last 5 ICC finals. It could come down to game changers like Perrera and KP.
Key players- Perrera for SL. KP, Swann for England.
Prediction- An england victory.
Game 11: RSA vs WI
One of these teams could very well be knocked out by now, with nothing to lose. Knowing SA’s record in knockouts, they could be the team fighting for survival under AB and coach Gary. This is Gary’s final chance to win them something that could make them undisputed favorites for the World Cup in 2 years.
Key players- Bravo, Pollard for WI. Prediction: an upset. A thumping WI victory could set the stage for India and WI to enter the semis.
Game 12: India vs Pakistan
The mother of all clashes. Tickets sold out in 30 minutes when they went on sale months ago. The worlds no. 1 odi team and world champions (defying logical ranking sense) takes on the most dangerous team in world cricket at mini-Asia. India are unbeaten against Pak in ICC ODI play, but have been in iffy form lately- especially abroad. This is a second home (pardon the pun) for Pakistan.
Key players- doesn’t matter.
Prediction- A Kohli-inspired Indian win, entering the semis.
Game 13- England vs NZ
A mild game compared to the last, but if its anything like the recent ODI series played between these 2 in England, get ready for madness. England must be aching for ODI revenge, while NZ will look to continue their impressive ODI streak of reaching the knockout stages.
Key players- Cook, Morgan for England. McCullum, Williamson for NZ.
Prediction- a NZ victory. As poor a test team as they are, they are a resourceful limited overs outfit.
Game 14- Australia vs SL
Defending champs Australia could be knocked out by now, and they face a very strong limited overs team in SL- who must be hurting from recent odi chokes. Australia’s era is over for now, and even Clarke needs a henchman to rescue his team from the depths of inconsistency.
Key players- Starc for Australia. Jaya for SL.
Prediction- SL victory. Aus crash out.