The ICC World Cup 2011 now has its own Final Four. When the Cricket World Cup resumes play on Tuesday, the semifinals will look more different than ever before. For one thing, Australia isn’t there, as there is guaranteed to be a new champion for the first time in this century. Instead, the bracket is serving a bit of home cooking, as two co-hosts are left among the semifinalists.
India secured its bid by upsetting Australia on Thursday. In the last quarterfinal Saturday, fellow co-host Sri Lanka took the last semifinal spot after defeating England by 10 wickets. This locks them into a matchup with New Zealand on Tuesday, before India faces Pakistan on Wednesday.
The Sri Lankans seemed set to go through a roller coaster against England since most of the English’s matches have been wild and crazy. However, they had no big comebacks, rallies or surprises left for this round, as it took the team enough just to get this far.
As such, Sri Lanka has become a favorite to reach the World Cup final since they next face the fourth-place team from their own group. On Friday, New Zealand pulled the upset of Group B champion South Africa, by 49 runs. Now they face Sri Lanka for the second time in the tournament, after losing to them by 112 runs on Friday.
The Sri Lankans will be playing a home game in Colombo, just as the Indians are on home turf in Mohali on Wednesday. This is a benefit of hosting the tournament — but India has a greater advantage since the final is held in Mumbai. Therefore, they stand to have a friendly crowd for the rest of the way.
Home field has already powered India, in their victory over three-time champion Australia. But their next opponent is the team that snapped Australia’s long time World Cup winning streak. Without the Aussies and the South Africans around, Pakistan could now be the favorite to win the cricket title.
If they beat India, it won’t give them the championship yet, although it could be hard to tell that to fans. According to the Pakistani Cricket Board, their fans are so excited over facing India, that they consider it the real title match. As soon as they are done with all their matches they will face England as Pakistan tour of England 2020.
However, New Zealand or Sri Lanka would still have something to say about that, if the Pakistanis face either team on Saturday for the ICC World Cup crown. They all have today and tomorrow to think about that, however, before play resumes on Tuesday and Wednesday.