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The ICC Cricket World cup has a very interesting setup whereby there is a group stage and then there is a Super 8 stage. There are four groups each comprising of four teams, two seeded and two unseeded and the the top two teams in each group will reach the Super 8 stage.
I will be very surprised if any of the seeded teams fail to proceed to the Super 8 stage and that for me makes the group stage rather predictable and somewhat boring if you can call it that. But that doesn't mean there are no interesting matches in the group stage. There are some appetising ties in the group stage, for example Australia versus South Africa but unlike in other World Cups where finishing top is very important here what matters is just finishing in the top two positions and I will explain why.
The reason is that the Super 8 stage schedule is already decided with the team's ranking. Take for example Australia, they are ranked first and therefore designated team A1, A standing for group and 1 being the ranking. Australia only needs to finish first or second and they will maintain their A1 tag and will proceed and play those matches scheduled for A1.
I think where it becomes interesting now is when a seeded team fails to finish in the top two positions. The unseeded team will take the seeding of the team they have displaced. So in the case of Australia, in the event that they fail to finish in the top two and either of Scotland or the Netherlands does, that team will inherit the A1 tag and play the matches scheduled for A1.
Its hard to see a group where such a scenario may happen but I think the closest where it could happen could be in Group B where Bangladesh could possibly oust one of India or Sri Lanka.
In Group A, Australia and South Africa should be too strong for the Netherlands and Scotland and in Group C I would expect England and New Zealand to see off Kenya and Canada.
Lastly but not least in Group D, Pakistan and the hosts the West Indies should be too good for Zimbabwe and Ireland.
It is important to note though that points gained from the group stage will be carried over to the Super 8 stage and therefore its very important to get those points on board because the Super 8 stage is not easy at all.
I hope there will be one or two upsets to make the group stage very interesting and I also
hope we will see some interesting cricket over the coming few weeks.
Zimbabwe's performance going into this World Cup hasn't been great as they lost back to back series against Bangladesh 5-nil(in Bangladesh) and then 3-1(in Zim) and with that kind of form you cant expect to beat either Pakistan or West Indies.
I think this year's World Cup will be quite an interesting one with a number of teams proving to be serious contenders - namely Sri Lanka, England, NZ - each of these teams have shown good form coming in to the tournament and have entered the tournament with full-strength teams.
I believe the ability to perform under pressure (particularly bowling out an innings) will be a key factor in determining the outcome of the tournament.
However, if their top players like Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan perform and consistently and not expect Andrew Flintoff to do everything then they can take on any side and beat it.
But don't also rule out India and South Africa especially the latter who are now ranked first but failed to sparkle last time around as hosts. They may want to correct that this time.