13 March 2007

Prediction: Pakistan win

I am quite excited. I am in office, and I have had too much coffee.

The team that blinks first tonight will lose. On paper, it is difficult to find two more evenly matched teams. Both have heavyweight batting order that is often less than the sum of its constituent parts, bowling that will be required to punch above its weight if they are to walk away with the World Cup. On paper.

Both Pakistan and the Windies have mature genius in Lara and Inzamam - both have carried their team on more than one occasion. Where Lara is the inspirational captain forever inspiring the mediocre team members to lift themselves, Inzamam is the most polished in a team bursting with talent. Pakistan have two thoroughbreds in the middle order:Younis and Yousuf. The West Indies have a consistent opening pair in Gayle and Chanderpaul. Pakistan may have a few question marks about their opening combination, but the Windies middle order has shown a 'chronic' tendency to implode.

Pakistan ODI sides will almost always have a talismanic allrounder. But this time, injury to Razzaq and suspension to Afridi have meant that they've had to rely on Azhar Mahmood who will need to prove himself all over again in the international arena. Windies however, will count on Chris Gayle and Samuels to spear in their slow left-armers to keep things tidy in the middle overs.

But the key to winning this match will lie in the ability of teams to string together partnerships and take wickets at crucial junctures - unless of course, on of the stars come to the party and blow the match away. Considering these parameters Pakistani bowlers who are more attacking options will win them this match. Do not forget that where Gayle and Samuels will operate in an environment of containment, Kaneria is more likely to be used to get wickets. Where Bradshaw and Collymore will wait for the batsman's mistake, Sami and Gul are more likely to produce that special delivery. Today's match will be won by the bowlers.

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