Still a month to go before this World Cup draws to a close, but already a few patterns are emerging: Pakistan, previously only alluded to as a “dark horse,” have turned in reasonably good performances thus far. Yes, they did dreadfully against Canada, but their bowling and spirit are something to behold. The team to beat, in my mind, is South Africa — this Imran Tahir hasn’t gone up against excellent players of spin yet, but he’s helping a team go from very good to unbeatable. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka (defeated by Pakistan) and India (tied with England of all places) have yet to get fully started. I’m worried — as I always am — about India’s bowling, which hasn’t yet figured out what to do on batting-friendly pitches like the one in Bangalore.
So, let’s call the semi-finals: Pakistan, South Africa, India and Australia. (Perhaps I should reserve comment until I see Sri Lanka play Australia — it’s hard for me to dismiss a team with the likes of Sangakarra and Jayawardene and Murali.) I’m not sure these teams can all make it, given the permutations of the quarterfinals, but this would make an exciting finale. Two of the whitest, two of the brownest — I can see the sponsors rubbing their hands together.
UPDATE: Just wanted to say one more thing — Australia’s pace attack has been phenomenal. It’s strange to see a team rely on sheer pace to win in the subcontinent, but Australia — without a credible spinner — have made the right choice and stuck to their strengths. Watching Brett Lee in his prime and seeing batsmen squirm at Tait yorkers — I don’t see India handling them all that well.