India are among the favourites to win ICC World Cup 2011. A factor going in favour of the Men in Blues is that they are playing in familiar conditions, and that gives them a special advantage when they play teams from outside the sub-continent.
India would be aiming to top Group B as that would match them against the fourth ranked team in Group A, probably New Zealand, as their opponents in the quarter-finals..
The rules of the tournament provide for the second ranked team in each group to meet the third ranked team from the other, at the quarter-final knock out stage.
But India’s tie against England has made the situation in Group B much more fluid than it was before the game. A loss to South Africa, at this stage, will upset India’s chances of topping the group, regardless of whether or not South Africa win or lose against England.
Let’s consider the possibilities, were South Africa to beat India. Thereafter, if South Africa beat England, they would clearly be ahead of India. And if they lost to England, Both South Africa and England could be ahead of India on the points table, assuming that none of the three teams lost to any of the others in the group, including the West Indies.
Thus, India would be likely to finish second or third in the group depending on whether South Africa beat Strauss’s men or lost to them. Of course, a West Indies victory over South Africa or England or both would upset the premise of my article. But if India were to beat South Africa, there would be no need to speculate. At worst, it might come down to a net run rate comparison with England, where I expect India to trump Strauss’s men.
The way Group A is shaping, I foresee Australia heading the group followed by Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Thus Australia are likely to play against the fourth ranked team of Group B, namely, the West Indies, in the quarter-finals. Sri Lanka’s and Pakistan’s rivals in the quarter-finals would probably be the second and third ranked teams from Group B.
Would finishing second in the group be such a disaster? I wouldn’t call it a disaster, but definitely an unfortunate circumstance, as that could pit India against either Sri Lanka or Pakistan, in the quarter-finals, both teams familiar with sub-continental conditions. Also, both teams are a much tougher propositions than New Zealand who were recently beaten by a second string Indian team.
In other words, the South Africa game is a must-win for India.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.