The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – Cricket World Cup Special
Tips, Tricks, Picks, and Odds.
There’s no better sound than that of leather on willow.
The World Cup has been underway for about a week now, and I’ve been absolutely desperate to do a feature piece on it. Unfortunately, its opening happened to coincide with one of the most immense weeks in global sports, with NBA finals, NHL finals, French Open finals (go Ash!), and numerous other interruptions making it borderline impossible for me to limit my focus to purely cricket for an entire piece.
Luckily (at least for me), we’ve hit a bit of a lull in the sporting world, with the NHL and NBA all wrapped up, and nothing monumental happening before Origin II. So, strap yourself in as I get set to dive into this weekend’s cricketing action. And now that we’ve seen how the pitches are playing, and which teams aren’t performing *cough* South Africa *cough* we should have a good understanding of what to expect from this weekend’s action – if it isn’t rained out.
We start on Friday with a clash of titans; we have two teams who’ve hit this tournament with everything they’ve got.
England v West Indies
The Windies are one of the most physically and offensively threatening teams in the history of short-form cricket and have shown they aren’t a team to be trifled with after their immense displays with the bat. Their bowling has left some fans wanting, but they’re still competing with the best, and could be a surprise contender for a finals berth. Chris Gayle is purely unstoppable, and with the lineup bolstered through allrounder prowess like that seen from Archer, it’s no wonder that the Windies have cemented their name as contenders just a few games into this competition.
England, the host nation, have been reasonably good so far but copped an embarrassing loss early in the tournament to Pakistan – showing that this won’t be a walk in the park for the team with the comp being held in their backyard. Even in defeat, Root and Buttler have proven solid with the bat, and will definitely be the key to victory, should England end up on top come Friday.
So how will it go down? This is going to be one of the hardest games of the tournament to predict. Both teams play a pace-heavy bowling game and try to make up for lost runs with big hitters. This is a game that could honestly be decided in the field. At the end of the day, a couple of missed wickets could make or break either team. I think the Windies will post a good score, but if England can put together a solid partnership somewhere along the line, they should end up with the win.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: England to Win
On Saturday, Aussie fans who brave the night out will be treated to an action-packed match against a nation very much looking for a reestablishment of their name on the national cricketing stage.
Australia v Sri Lanka
Australia have had the start to the tournament that every fan would have hoped for. The comebacks of Smith and Warner have been nothing short of exceptional, and the rest of the team has supported the stars with solid displays on the bat (Coulter-Nile!) and with the ball (not Coulter-Nile). They had a tough game against India, but other than that have been borderline unstoppable up to this point. Australia are one of the teams to beat this tournament.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have a lot to work on. They’re a team that was once amongst the best in short-form world cricket but have suffered a recent fall from grace – with a record since 2015 that only just beats Afghanistan (and no one else). This world cup was supposed to serve as the start of their redemption arc, but has instead, highlighted the insufficiencies in Sri Lanka’s game. They’ve been poor this entire tournament and will be hoping for a serious change of fortunes against the Aussies.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, I don’t see that happening. Australia have just been far too good this tournament and should pick up the Sri Lankan scalp on their march to a finals berth.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Australia to Win
Oh, now this is a big one.
India v Pakistan
This match so very nearly never happened, with both sides threatening a boycott when their ever-raging border dispute got particularly heated earlier this year (and almost ended in an all-out war). There’s no other way of putting it, these two nations despise each other, and it’ll all be on show when they face off for pride, glory, and so much more on Sunday.
India has come into this match as favourites to win the whole tournament. Their dominance with the bat has been complete, their control over spin had been top-notch, and (as much as it pains me to admit) Kohli is one of the best strategic captains the game has ever seen. This tournament is India’s to lose, and the same can be said for this game.
If Pakistan were to pick a game in which they wanted to cause upset, this would be it. To beat India at their national sport would be immense for the Pakistanis, and I have no doubt they’re going to leave everything out on the field to try to make it happen. They’ll come out guns-a-blazing with the bat, and I see it going one of two ways.
Either Pakistan will push too hard too early, and cop some poor wickets as a result, handing India the comfortable win, or they’ll manage to string together a strong partnership or two – and push the game so that it’s decided in the final few overs.
Either way, it would be foolish for me to tip against India.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: India to Win
So, who’ll take home the bacon?
As I said before in this piece, India are the team to beat. Their dominance over all aspects of the game is hard to match, and the confidence with which their players take the field is proof of this. I think the top four will be India, Australia, New Zealand, and the Windies. I can see India winning their semi-easily and booking a spot in the final – and (this might just be the kiwi in me talking) I seriously think the New Zealand team could do the same. What I’ve seen from them so far in this tournament really shows they’re playing around with something special – and let’s not forget they’re the second best test squad in the world right now. New Zealand aren’t just another Minnow.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: India to Win, New Zealand to be a dark horse