World Cup 2011: Quarter Final preview

Finally, the men have been separated from the boys. The world cup has moved on to the cruel knockout stages, where one good knock or a lethal bowling spell can sink heavyweights. So just fasten your seat belts and get ready for a roller coaster ride as the champions are just three match away from lifting the coveted trophy.

The world cup quarterfinal bandwagon starts on Wednesday with an assured Pakistan taking on an unpredictable West indies. Pakistan looks clear favorites in this tie unless someone like Gayle, Polllard or Roach pulls off a performance of sheer brilliance. There batting have crumbled repeatedly under pressure and surviving the likes of Gul and Afridi at the slow Mirpur track is a task of sorts for them. The odds are 70/30 in the favor of the Pakistanis.

Then there is the big one at Ahmadabad. The defending champions versus the hot favorites, a final before the actual final. This is India's best chance to beat the Aussies in the world cups. They are not the unbeatable side they used to be once, and with a struggling captain and a below par spin attack this team looks vulnerable. Although, their top order with Shane Watson and a ferocious pace attack under Lee looks formidable. Talking of the Indian ranks, the lights of Sachin, Sehwag would be switched on for the big one and at a turning Motera pitch Harbhajan, Ashwin and Yuvraj can run riot in the OZ camp. It would be the team who applies itself better and shows the killer instinct which would survive this battle of the top two ODI teams. It's tough to chose between the two sides but the odds are 55/45 in India's favor.

The third one seems to be an easy one for the Proteas, unless their old stint of choking at the knockout stage returns to haunt them all over again. The Kiwis are going to have a torrid times facing the pace of Steyn-Morkal and a varied spin attack. South Africa also boasts of one of the best batting line up in the tournament. The New Zealand side lacks the charisma and the star quotient in their team but you can't really write off Vettori's men. But still they need to play exceedingly well to end South Africa's world cup stint at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, Mirpur. The stakes are 70/30 against the kiwis.

Sri Lanka seems to have the easiest road to the semi finals. They face an almost exhausted and clueless English side in their backyard and with a versatile batting line up and a best in the business spin attack they have the best chance to topple England. Although this side has beaten South Africa in the league stage but it still remains an uphill task to beat the Lankans for them. The stakes are 60/30 in favor of Sri Lanka.

But after all calculations and assumptions, cricket is a funny game. It has a knack of surprising you at the very moment you take it for granted. As said in the beginning it's just the matter of one superb individual performance or a bad day at office which could lead to an untimely exit of a mighty team.

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