With New Zealand winning the match against South Africa, there is an overwhleming choice among the prediction creators to vie for another host Australia in the semifinal match on Thursday.
Here is what some top cricketers predicted in their interviews with the ICC-Cricket Council and how they went wrong about their wish.
Michael Atherton, Former England player and 1996 World Cup squad member, voted for New Zealand strongly and of course, he stands correct as NZ reached the finals.
When it comes to India vs Australia, he said, “Australia are marginally stronger favourites in that semi. I’d probably go with them given how they’ve played against India recently. But India have come so strong in this World Cup, they’ve unbeaten and have played some terrific cricket. The best four teams are through and there are two great semi-finals. Both are incredibly difficult to call.” So, he wanted both co-hosts to fight the final and not India vs New Zealand though.
India’s own former captain Sourav Ganguly, who played the 1999, 2003, 2007 World Cup says it’s anybody’s game. When it comes India, he is certain. “It has to be India, but it’s going to be another good game. They are both very good sides and they say in a semi-final you cannot put anyone ahead. Australia in Sydney, that’s their home ground, but the pressure will also be on Australia.”
Scott Styris, former BLACKCAP and 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cup squad member, was tricky in his prediction saying about South Africa and New Zealand. His view was that “whoever gets on top the quickest will have a major advantage.” Anyway, as New Zealand won credit goes to their quick pace.
When it comes to India vs Australia, he finds it bizarre to predict. Two months ago he would have said Australia but now with India unbeaten is bit nervous to predict smashout defeat for India. “But I think Australia are still the favourites and I’d be surprised if India did take it out.”
Grant Bradburn, former BLACKCAP and current Cricket Scotland coach, says, “India – as I believe the emotion and pressure will be too great for Australia. A great match up and could go either way as both sides have power batsmen to take the game away. Therefore this game will hinge on the bowling attacks to get early wickets and restrict the onslaught at the back end.
Gavin Larsen, former BLACKCAP and 1992, 1996 and 1999 World Cup squad member, who vied for New Zealand’s win in semi-finals says Australia will win “this one but India will test them. Australia will have too much power across the board. Their batting is even but Australia’s bowling gives them the nudge,’ he says emphatically.
Kevin O’Brien, Ireland World Cup squad member 2007, 2011 and 2015, who correctly predicted for New Zealand, is also sure that Australia will win though India’s weak bowling line up is improving of late. “Australia have performed well with the ‘favourites’ tag for some time now. I think their batting relies too much on Steve Smith. With Aaron Finch slightly out of form and Michael Clarke short on time at the crease, Australia will rely heavily on Glenn Maxwell to score quickly at the back end of the innings. India will do just enough to overcome Australia,” he says cautiously.
On final, irrespective of Australia or India, he said New Zealand will lift the cup this year for the first time.
Simon Doull, former BLACKCAP and 1999 World Cup squad member, is hesitant to predict on Australia or India as he finds home advantage to help host team. He quickly adds, “but there will be some screaming fans for India in Sydney.” On final, he says it would be “New Zealand vs Australia final but if it’s India v New Zealand,” it won’t bother me.
Murphy Su’a, former BLACKCAP and member of 1992 New Zealand World Cup squad, who favoured his home team to win the semifinals is clear to pick Australia in Thursday’s match. “I’m picking Australia for that one. It will be closer than their battles earlier in the summer, but I’m still picking Australia to be too strong on home-soil.”