World Cup snippets: What if it's Australia again?

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 16, 2011 07:19 hrs

What if Australia wins for the fourth time in a row? How will that affect the morale of all the other teams? Will they even talk of World Cup 2015 after that? The problem is that while Australia is in decline in Tests, it is definitely not so in ODIs.

If you look at "decade"ly or four-yearly form, 2010 form or even monthly form, then Australia are still at the top of their game.

Confused ICC changes format yet again

Five points to ponder:

1. They not only won three World Cups in a row, but thrashed their opponents in the finals. From 2003-07, they have won 22/22 World Cup matches.

2. After drawing a blank in the initial editions, they won the ICC Champions Trophies of 2006 and 2009.  

3. In the ICC rankings (January-end), they are not only No. 1, but stand at a formidable 129 points with India at a distant second (119).

4. They may have lost to England in both the T20 World Cup final and the Ashes. But when it comes to ODIs, they have just thrashed them 4-1, with two matches to go. Talk about being in top form on the eve of the Cup.

5. Since the World Cup is being played in India, a look at their form in India: They are the only team to have beaten us more than once in the last 5 years. They won the ICC Champions Trophy in India. Then there's the IPL experience too.

You must say that on paper at least it's Australia all the way.

If that happens then while Australia will be in the Seventh Heaven, the rest of the cricketing world will be thrown into depression.

Australia versus the Indian sub-continent

Finals from 1996 onwards have been a predictable Australia versus a team from the sub-continent affair. From 1999 onwards, Australia has beaten Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka (in that order) in the finals.

Even if you look at titles from 1983 onwards, it's the same quartet. What has happened to the West Indies, England, South Africa and New Zealand in the last 25 years? Will they stand up and be counted?  

But with the Cup being played on the Indian sub-continent and Australia in top form, you can expect the usual suspects in the final for the fifth time in a row.

Everyone's got a big one this time

Till 1996, five teams had won the World Cup. Things still haven't changed on the eve of the 2011 edition. We don’t have a new title-holder after 1996.  

But the other three teams do have some reason to cheer.

Both South Africa and New Zealand won the ICC Champions Trophy, while England claimed the T20 world title. Here's wishing them all the luck to use that new-found confidence to show a much better fight in 2011.

Interestingly, India is the only team in to have won the Big 3: ODI World Cup, T20 World Cup and ICC Champions Trophy.  

Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni have formed a unique record.

but will the Proteas choke yet again?

After three semi-finals and one quarter-final in five World Cups, the question everyone is asking is can South Africa not choke in a World Cup?

The last series that they played was with India. They won that 3-2. While that looks like good preparation for the big one, scratch the surface and a lot of issues emerge.  

For one, India was missing its entire top order in Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Secondly, they faltered whenever the pressure was the highest.  

In the second ODI they crashed from 152-4 to 189 all out. At one stage they required three runs from 47 balls with two wickets in hand. In the third ODI, they lost another close match.

While they might have won the fifth ODI, they did lose five wickets in 11 balls and let India put up a 105-run partnership for the ninth wicket.

Throughout the series, they struggled to counter spin even against a part-timer like Yuvraj Singh. Heading to the home of spin after that performance will not exactly inspire confidence. 

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Another piece of trivia: How many knockout matches has South Africa won in five World Cups?

The answer is: Zero.

Well, in this World Cup, once when you enter the quarters, you'll have to win three knockout matches in a row.

The task is certainly tough for the Proteas.

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.