Ahead of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, Osman Samiuddin offers the boldest prognostications he can envision possibly happening for the quadrennial tournament.
Pakistan will beat India
OK, so this is more irrational than bold. Pakistan’s abysmal record against India at world trophies is well-known: played nine, lost nine).
There is no recourse to form or history on which to base this prediction. Pakistan are not a particularly good one-day international (ODI) side at the moment.
India may be struggling in Australia but they have a frighteningly good batting order and that counts far more in ODIs. It is hard to conjure a total beyond their capabilities to chase.
But the streak has to break at some point.
All streaks do and now seems like as good a time as any.
Expectations for Pakistan will be relatively low, given that it is their first game and not a knockout, or one on which further progress depends heavily.
That may just free them up, mentally, to go out there and dig into India’s bowling, easily their worst suit.
Here is an omen, too: this will be the first World Cup match the two play without Sachin Tendulkar’s involvement.
New Zealand will win the World Cup
You heard it here first. Co-hosts New Zealand will finally break through their semi-final glass ceiling, reach the final and triumph. They have all the elements a winning team need.
Some of the most in-form batsmen in world cricket populate their top and middle order.
They have some of the best fast bowlers going and the depth in that department is enough that they can loan out some to other countries.
Give or take South Africa, they are probably the world’s best fielding side and, in Brendon McCullum, the Kiwis have a captain possessed, a man who has taken control of his destiny in the past year. Above all, does everything not just feel right for them?
Good form, a home World Cup, years of near-misses to be corrected: there is just too much going right in New Zealand’s universe right now to ignore.
It is also about time cricket had a new world champion, something we have not had since 1996, when Sri Lanka were the victors.
England will have a good World Cup
The National has gone mad, you say? England? A good World Cup? There is more chance of Giles Clarke inviting Ijaz Butt over for tea, right?
Wrong. For the first time since 1992, England will have a good World Cup. They will make it to the semi-finals, which will make it a great World Cup for them.
First, it is about time they did. No major side can remain so bad for so long. At some point the wheel must turn.
Second, they now have the makings of a good side. Most of their hopes will rest on their pace bowling, in which department they are blessed.
But for the first time in years, since the age of Adam Hollioake, perhaps, they have players in the side who look like they know the difference between 50 overs and five days, who can handle the demands of a limited-overs game.
Eoin Morgan is also looking like a man, a captain, who knows his time has come.
Ireland to make the quarter-final stage
If ever there was a time and place for an associate to make a statement, it is at this World Cup. Nobody knows yet what the shape and format of the next tournament will be.
How many associates will have a fair shot at playing at the 2019 World Cup?
So Ireland, the best, most-professional associate side once again need to make a statement on behalf of the associates. It is probably not that bold a prediction, either.
Assume they whizz past the UAE and defeat Zimbabwe, too. The latter would be a mild, if symbolic, upset.
Then, consider the state the West Indies are in. On paper, they start favourites but in reality Ireland will look at that fixture on February 16 and see an early opportunity.
Their last game is against Pakistan and who knows what state the group will be in by that stage?
Pakistan might be under pressure and their record against Ireland is not as emphatic as it should be.
Aside from the famous 2007 World Cup upset, Ireland have tied one and lost, by two wickets, the other most recent game with Pakistan.
Kumar Sangakkara and AB de Villiers will fail
This is perhaps the boldest of all our predictions. It is based on no good sense or reason.
Kumar Sangakkara and AB de Villiers are the two best batsmen in world cricket, currently.
De Villiers is a cross-format genius, and Sangakkara is, as well, though not quite to the same freakish degree.
The pair have been in awe-inspiring form for so long that is can no longer just be known as good form, or a streak.
This decade of bounty essentially constitutes their obstacle-free paths to greatness.
But, the last time we checked, they were living, breathing humans and that means they are fallible.
At some point they must fail and, potentially, fail for a while. At 37, Sangakkara has the natural gravitational pull of age working against his sustained greatness.
De Villiers is still young but he has the pressures of captaincy and, specifically, the pressures of South African captaincy at a World Cup, a combination which has usually led to bad news. It could happen.
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