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Path to the Semis

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Let's have a look at the roads that the four semifinalists took, as the final stage of the T20 world cup gets underway, and see if we can trace any patterns in the way the teams played...although Clarke and Co. must have researched it better than me, I am sure. England is the only newbie at this stage, so let's start with them.


England:

Even after having scored a really competitive 191 against the Windies, D/L managed to keep the host team happy. At 60/2 in 6 overs, match was more than open, if not in favor of England. Ireland saw the otherwise solid English batting crumble, but England might not regret it as Eoin Morgan found his touch (which wasn't lost to begin with) and D/L decided to take England's side this time.

Against Pakistan, England managed to put up a steady performance, with Pietersen's unbeaten 73 seeing them stage a better batting performance, chasing down the total easily. However, their best performance came against the tournament favourites, South Africa. After having managed to score 160+, the English bowlers put up a steady performance together and won the game by handsome margin of 39 runs. The match against New Zealand did not turn on the pressure at all, not just because they'd already qualified but because of the easy victory they pulled through.

Interestingly, they have managed a competitive first innings total twice already and they have chased down 140-150 with considerable ease throughout the tournament. A brilliant performance is what will be required to topple them from here.

Sri Lanka:

The first half of the Lankan campaign revolved around Jayawardene's outstanding performances. A total of 135 against New Zealand went into nail-biting-finish mode only to see the kiwis get through. Jayawardene flourished once again against Zimbabwe with a century and D/L did the bowling part for Lanka.

The Windies were then taken by storm, again by Jayawardene; only this time he was supported by Sangakkara, with Lanka managing to put up a mighty 191 to chase. A clinical bowling performance ensured a thumping victory. The vulnerability of the side came to the fore with one failed Jayawardene innings and Lanka ended up having a

severe bantering from the Aussies. However, Lanka need not worry about their dependence on Jayawardene if they read too much into their middle-order performance against a rather dejected Indian attack, but they can derive some confidence from it at least to console themselves.

All-in-all, Lanka looks highly inconsistent this WC (unlike the last one where they reached finals with a lot more ease) and could be strategised against by marking a few key players. It's time for the other players to raise and perform or Jayawardene should do his best to continue his fairy tale in the next two matches as well. 

Australia:

A total of 191 against Pakistan with Watson butchering Pakistani bowlers and an impressive overall bowling performance churned out a perfect start to the campaign. Their batting did stumble against Bangladesh but Nannes kicked a brilliant performance to see them out of the mess.

Their performance against India resembled the one against Pakistan...another thumping victory with the openers super-performing. And the game against Sri Lanka saw Australia regaining their usual decade old glamour- domination. A similar game followed against the Windies, although this time it was their bowlers who stamped a mark. Damn Windies! Till then, at least that confidence was not evident in the Australian side. Clarke must have surely smirked during the presentation ceremony.

The key to Australia's strength this campaign has been the Warner-Watson flourish and Hussey brothers' consistency backed by clean bowling performances and sharp fielding. But that clearly is a lot to defeat for any team that will face it from here on. Guerilla tactics, trojan attack? I am not sure what can bring them down.

Pakistan:

Pakistan is the team that people can use to prove that statistics are worthless. Probably that's why they are such a successful team in this format. Unpredictable, completely. Their performance so far has been no different.

The match against Bangladesh was their best; it was about having 2 points in the bag, thanks primarily to Butt and Akmal. However they completely lacked their sharpness against the Aussies. In the match against England, they looked handicapped, yet remained in the hunt for most of the time. Pietersen was clearly the difference here. Then, we had a nail-biting finish to the match against New Zealand where they lost by a run. However, a fall and a comeback performance against South Africa (which also saw SA packing their bags) has confirmed their versatility in this format of the game (or South Africa's inconsistency).

They face Australia first in the quest for the finals. Frankly, the only thing that stands between Australia and the World Cup seems to be the unpredictability of Pakistan. The question is: will that matter?


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