After a series of group matches that frankly went far too long and never really gained any momentum, the knock out stages of the ICC Cricket World Cup are here.
Quarter Final 1 – Sri Lanka vs. South Africa
The Quarter Finals start Wednesday when Sri Lanka take on South Africa in Sydney, the site of the Proteas controversial loss to England in the 1992 World Cup Semi Final.
This looks to be on paper the best of the match ups. Sri Lanka have ridden their star players Sangakkara, Jayawadene, Dilshan, Matthews and Malinga to a 4-2 record, losing only to Australia and New Zealand.
South Africa are all aboard the AB train. To suggest they are a one man team though is foolish, however if their top players do not fire they are vulnerable, as was seen in their surprise loss to Pakistan. They also come into the knockout stages with a 4-2 record.
The teams have contrasting records when it comes to finals. South Africa have never won a knockout World Cup match, while Sri Lanka have made the past two finals.
South Africa should win, but who knows how they will cope with the pressure.
Quarter Final 2 – Bangladesh vs. India
The defending champions are yet to lose a game in this tournament and I can’t see this changing in this game against the lowest ranked quarter finalist at the MCG on Thursday.
India’s powerful batting line up will prove far too strong for the Bangladeshi bowling, who have been honest in the tournament to date without being dominant.
Look for India to pile on a big score if they win the toss and bat.
If Bangladesh can repeat the plucky performance to knock England out of the competition, they could cause India some trouble, but in reality this is unlikely.
Quarter Final 3 – Australia vs. Pakistan
Pakistan are well acclimatised to the conditions in Adelaide, where they will play the host nation and favourites Australia, having played two games there in the group stage, for a win and a loss.
The loss was against India, where Pakistan conceded a big score bowling first and struggled in the run chase. The win was a struggle in the last game over associate nation Ireland.
Pakistan are so unpredictable anything can happen with them. Australia will know this and will prepare for it.
The Aussies come in full of confidence having run through the group stages with relative ease. Taking out the collapse in Auckland they have dominated the opposition throughout. The last game against Scotland provided a great opportunity to get some game time for players such as Michael Clarke, James Faulkner and Pat Cummins.
Their side is close to settled with Shane Watson at 6 as the all-rounder. The only place up for grabs is the third pace bowling spot. Cummins looks to have the inside running.
Australia just have to win this game and they will, comfortably.
Quarter Final 4 – New Zealand vs. West Indies
Like the India vs. Bangladesh match up, this looks like a mis-match on paper. New Zealand also went through the group stage undefeated, with their only close game the 1 wicket victory over Australia where they collapsed after looking to be cruising to a comfortable win.
The Kiwis have shown throughout that they have a deep batting line up and they have long stated their aim to make it to the MCG Sunday week.
The Windies had a 3-3 record and have at times looked like a disinterested rabble. Losing their opening match to Ireland after making over 300 was a less than ideal start, whole they conceded 5/408 to South Africa. Their best performance of the tournament came against Zimbabwe thanks to a stunning knock of 215 by Chris Gayle.
They have the talent to spring an upset, however the Kiwi line up will be too deep and talented for them.
Semi Final predictions
Australia vs. India
New Zealand vs. South Africa