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How the four Cricket World Cup semi-finalists are shaping up

Australia, England, India and New Zealand have made the top four.

England and Australia are in the final four (Tim Goode/PA)
England and Australia are in the final four (Tim Goode/PA)

After five weeks and 43 matches, the four World Cup semi-finalists have been confirmed. Here, PA assesses the remaining contenders for the trophy.

Australia

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Mitchell Starc tops the wicket-taking charts (Mike Egerton/PA)

Form: A year out, the reigning champions’ one-day cricket was a mess, but they have timed their run to perfection. They have won 15 of their last 16 games, a sequence only interrupted by defeat to India at The Oval.

Strength: Winning mentality. Five trophies in the cabinet confirms the belief that nobody does World Cups quite like them. The spine of their side took part in their last success four years ago and with the likes of Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin in their backroom team, they do not lack for sound advice.

Weakness: While thoroughly effective on tricky pitches, there is a suspicion Australia might come off second best in a run-fest. Barring Glenn Maxwell, their batsmen can lack the extra gear.

Key man: Mitchell Starc (24 wickets at 15.54)

World ranking: 3

England

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Jason Roy (right) and Jonny Bairstow have formed a formidable pairing at the top of the order (Nigel French/PA)

Form: Endured a mini identity crisis when losing back-to-back games against Sri Lanka and Australia. A frank team meeting appears to have put them back on track and they head into the knockouts after two stirring victories against fellow semi-finalists India and New Zealand.

Strength: In Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy, England boast the most dangerous opening partnership in the world. They lift each other to a different level and have now scored three successive century partnerships. When they perform, it usually leads to victory.

Weakness: The good old fashioned English batting collapse. Eoin Morgan’s side might have reinvented almost everything else about their limited-overs cricket, but their bad days are still truly awful. Losing wickets in heavy clusters is a habit they would like to kick, but even their enviably long tail cannot bail them out when the fever hits.

Key man: Jonny Bairstow (462 runs at 51.33)

World ranking: 1

India

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Jasprit Bumrah (right) excels at the death (Nigel French/PA)

Form: Six wins and one washout from their first seven games meant India briefly reclaimed top place in the ICC standings before defeat against England. Most of their victories have been comfortable, but they were pushed all the way by underdogs Afghanistan.

Strength: Less of a collective than their rivals, India thrive when their stars shine. Rohit Sharma is in irrepressible form with four centuries in the tournament, Virat Kohli has yet to peak but will always carry the fear factor and paceman Jasprit Bumrah is a peerless specialist at the death.

Weakness: Reliance on a handful of matchwinners means there is the potential for others to slip under the radar. Injuries to Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar have left them light on top order options and spinners Yuzvrendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have under-performed.

Key man: Rohit Sharma (544 runs at 90.66)

World ranking: 2

New Zealand

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Captain Kane Williamson is integral for New Zealand (Mike Egerton/PA)

Form: The Black Caps started the tournament in rude health, going unbeaten in their first six matches, only to go off the boil at just the wrong time. They have now lost three in a row, a last-over finish against Pakistan and thrashings by Australia and England. Momentum is fading.

Strength: Absolute clarity of method. The Kiwis know their preferred blueprint and rarely veer from it. They keep things simple but effective, rotating their hitters around Kane Williamson’s ultra-reliable output and cycle through a varied bowling attack.

Weakness: An element of conservatism might have crept in to their game following the retirement of Brendon McCullum. A born gambler, he always doubled down on aggression. Williamson is less inclined and when the pressure is on it may count against him.

Key man: Lockie Ferguson (17 wickets at 18.58)

World ranking: 4

PA

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