ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 9th Match, Group B: South Africa v West Indies, 14 June

Rain threat looms over crucial tie | PunterPolls Prediction

A glance at Cardiff's pregnant skies is enough to set the tone for the knockout clash between South Africa and West Indies and it is not a positive one. What should be a fascinating clash between a team that dominates outside of major tournaments and a team trying to recreate their glory days may not even happen. If it does, it is likely to be interrupted by rain.

Should the wet weather have the final say, South Africa will progress by virtue of a better net run-rate but they will not want to go into the real knockouts in such fortunate circumstances. Neither will West Indies want to exit the tournament in a drizzle of disappointment, although they have two poor batting performances to blame for their current standing in the group.

While South Africa showed improvement, particularly in the bowling department, in their second game, West Indies remained static. As a result, they have not managed a total of even 240 so far and against South Africa, it would be safe to assume, they may need many more to win.

But this is not a normal occasion for South Africa; this is a pressure game and that alone could scramble their minds. Even if Dale Steyn is fit and firing, their main battle will be with themselves as they try to rewrite their reputations as big-game bloopers.

West Indies will fancy themselves more than usual, especially because they have been the team that have put South Africa out of tournaments the most. On three occasions, they have been responsible for South Africa taking the next flight home and their cavalier confidence has often given them the edge over a team paranoid of failure.

PunterPolls Prediction

Lets keep tings short, West Indies is very good site and in T20 format they are likely to beat any team in  the world. But longer version is not their cup of tea. South Africans team with the win in  the last match and Dale Steyn inclusion are more balanced. So, we are with South Africa in this contest.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 9th Match, Group B: South Africa v West Indies, 14 June

  • West Indies (33% Votes)
  • South Africa (67% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 8th Match, Group A – England v Sri Lanka, 13 June

England target semi-final berth | PunterPolls Prediction

England were too rigid, too slow and too one-dimensional at Edgbaston - probably why they thumped Australia by 48 runs. The familiar concerns over England's shortcomings were rolled out at lunch on Saturday, only to be wheeled away at the close. England have a knack for getting it right on the night, particularly in ODIs at home, and should they get the job done against Sri Lanka, they will be in the semi-finals.

The scaremongering will emerge again over England's batting - how will they survive Lasith Malinga's toe-crushers? How will they find a way to score from Rangana Herath, who put England in a spin last March? They've never seen Sachithra Senanayake before. Their blasters with the bat are no good against slow bowling. You can see it is quite easy to descend into debilitating nervousness about the England line up.

But England have their plans, England know their game and, more often than not, have been able to put in a performance with the bat. Anyone who left for the bar at Edgbaston after 40 overs of the first innings on Saturday would have been after a stiff measure to numb the pain of the previous 20 overs. By the interval, a response to England's total of 269 would have included pleasant surprise and bewilderment at how they got there after their middle order was so quickly shot down.

England found a way. Ravi Bopara played a great hand and his performances at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston were just what he was picked for: a handy few late-order runs and a tricky spell of slippery overs. Bopara balances England quite nicely and looking at the wickets from the opening Champions Trophy matches, pace off the ball is a good weapon.

Sri Lanka needed more of it against New Zealand. Angelo Mathews admitted his selection was wrong in Cardiff. A second spinner would have forced New Zealand into doing more than drop-and-run and use the pace of the quicker men to nudge their way to the target. More of a threat then Tillakaratne Dilshan was needed. It was a bizarre oversight; especially considering New Zealand played two spinners.

They were left relying on Malinga and even his best ideally needs more than 139 to work with. Sri Lanka's dealing with the new balls - which haven't done as much as might have been expected - and more pertinently, reverse swing, could decide the match.

PunterPolls Prediction

Sri Lankan were struggling with the bat but then they have done superb bowling and did get quite close to won the match against the New Zealand. But England batsmen are not like New Zealanders, they are more experienced and better gel with  their home conditions. England worry is to handle the Sri Lankan spin attack and Sri Lankan worry is their own batting line-up.

Our experts believe that England does have better chances to win today's game as they are very much comfortable with the home conditions and have better pace attack.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 8th Match, Group A - England v Sri Lanka, 13 June

  • Sri Lanka (37% Votes)
  • England (63% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 7th Match, Group A – Australia v New Zealand, 12 June

Do-or-die for Australia in trans-Tasman clash | PunterPolls Prediction

At the last Champions Trophy, Australia beat New Zealand in the final to secure their second consecutive title. This year, the two teams meet with Australia's tournament all but on the line. A loss in their opening match against England has left the Australians vulnerable and should they lose to New Zealand, they would not only have to beat Sri Lanka next Monday but they would also need England to lose their remaining two matches to have any hope of scraping through to the semi-finals. Even then, it would come down to net run-rate. Should New Zealand win their progression is not certain, although it would take a similarly intricate series of results for them to miss out to England and Sri Lanka on net run-rate. An Australian victory would keep things fairly even throughout the group.

However, the Australians will need to overcome New Zealand without their captain Michael Clarke, who has been ruled out due to a back injury that has plagued him since he arrived in England. The more significant long-term worry will be his availability for the Ashes which follow after. David Warner is a real concern as well, having scored ducks in the two warm-up matches, followed by 9 against England. New Zealand's cordon will be well advised to be on high alert early in Warner's innings, given the way he has been slashing and edging of late.

New Zealand also have an injury concern around a senior player, with Daniel Vettori likely to miss out having had a saline injection in his troublesome left Achilles tendon. "You only have to look at him. He's limping and is a bit ginger walking around the field," the New Zealand fast bowler, Kyle Mills, said on Monday. "He's been doing it since his teenage years at this level and his body is tired. He shows tremendous toughness and hopefully he can rise to the occasion for these next games to get us over the line. He looked jovial getting his toast and cereal at breakfast this morning, but there's obviously a lot of discomfort."

PunterPolls Prediction

Both teams are in equal bad form, Only exception is New Zealand have won and Aussie have lost their opener games respectively. Aussies teams not only struggling with players unavailability but also their key players are not in form. All they need one good match and you will find them altogether a different team.

New Zealand on the other hand packed with talent all rounders and have win in their bag is in better position. They have almost lost the low scoring encounter against Sri Lanka but then all we can say that pitch wasn't friendly to the batsmen.

Overcast weather is going to play vital role in this contest so does the toss. Team winning the toss would like to chase the target and expect their bowlers to restrict the opponent to modest total.

Our expert believe New Zealand team does have better chances to win the contest. Reason, they have played more matches then Australia in last one month time and have performed better in the England conditions whereas Aussie are struggling a lot.  

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 7th Match, Group A - Australia v New Zealand, 12 June

  • New Zealand (42% Votes)
  • Australia (58% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 6th Match, Group B – India v West Indies, 11 June

Contest between two batting units | PunterPolls Prediction

It is a little surprising that these two sides, hugely popular among the expatriate population in England, haven't faced each other in an ODI in England in the last 30 years. When India last played West Indies in an ODI in England, ODI cricket and West Indies were the kings. India upset West Indies that afternoon, became the new kings of ODI cricket, and paved the way for a whole new commercial explosion in the format. Thirty years later, as they face off in England again, India are the world champions and the No. 1 ODI side, but the format itself is fighting for relevance, at least in popular discourse.

West Indies, knocked off their proud perch long ago, will like to believe they have begun the resurgence through Twenty20, the format that is supposed to be the premier limited-overs format. This Champions Trophy provides them a big opportunity to carry that resurgence into the ODIs. And if they can beat India, the only way to keep West Indies out of the semi-finals will be net run rate. The same holds for India, who can perhaps afford to lose more than West Indies because they will be playing last in the group.

These are teams built around batting might. The new regulations might have made India sacrifice one of the seven batsmen they loved to play, but they still rely on their batsmen, who racked up 331 against South Africa. West Indies' win might have come in a low-scoring game, but they played with just three specialist bowlers, with captain Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle left to share 20 overs between them. West Indies might add one bowler to the line-up, but it still remains a contest between the mighty batting units.

PunterPolls Prediction

When things are not in your favor, take a break. That's what we have done and didn't predicted about the last game between South Africa v Pakistan.

Anyhow we would like to predict today's. West Indies have some match winning players and if you have a look their performances specially in IPL you will find this very interesting. Bravo, Pollard, Sammy, Gayle, Rampaul and Narine key players of IPL teams Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers, Banglore and KKR are all playing from West Indies side and does know the Indians strategy a lot. They are playing as a unit and are in good form.

On the other side, Indians are looking unstoppable. They have played good in warm-up matches and have done exceptionally well against the South Africans in the opener (though I believe their inexperience in bowling cost the game). As both teams knows in and out of each teams, would be very interesting to see who will keep their head on the shoulders to beat the heat.

According to our experts, Indians are much stronger in terms of their performance and experience. 

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 6th Match, Group B - India v West Indies, 11 June

  • West Indies (29% Votes)
  • India (71% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 5th Match, Group B: Pakistan v South Africa, 10 June

Desperate teams face off in crucial match

The Champions Trophy will only be five days old on Monday but already it's crunch time. Defeat at Edgbaston will leave either South Africa or Pakistan on the brink of exit. Neither team is ready for that reality yet, so expect a tooth-and-nail affair between two desperate units.

The numbers are in South Africa's favour. They beat Pakistan 3-2 in a series in March and, even though they lost the warm-up match last Monday, they are in better shape after their opening match against India. South Africa ensured their net run-rate remained high when they ran India close and they showed they could bat deep.

Pakistan did the opposite. They were woeful against a West Indies attack that challenged with pace and spin, and only Nasir Jamshed and Misbah-ul-Haq showed any fight. However, even though they only scored 170, their bowlers kept them in the game until the last 10 overs, showing they could defend as long as there was a reasonable total.

The battle lines have been drawn between South Africa's batting and Pakistan's bowling and has been evened out by South Africa's pace pack being depleted. Although neutrals would want to see Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in action, without them the contest should level. That promises a match of spit and sizzle, rather than just steam.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 5th Match, Group B: Pakistan v South Africa, 10 June

  • South Africa (62% Votes)
  • Pakistan (38% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 4th Match, Group A: New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 9 June

Ferrer v Murray, in cricket | PunterPolls Predictions

New Zealand are the David Ferrer of cricket. They are the good, friendly triers. They try to make up for lesser talent compared to the big boys with honest effort. Of course, plain honest effort does not get you the big titles. But more often than not, it gets you towards the closing stages of the big tournaments: the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, the extremely occasional final. Once there, they are widely expected to make way for the Nadals or the Australias. Both have no qualms about that; they know reaching where they do using what they posses, in relation to what the big boys have, is no mean achievement.

On Sunday, Ferrer, at age 31, will play his maiden Grand Slam final in Paris in a career that has seen about ten Slam campaigns fail at the quarter-final and semi-final hurdles. Across the Channel, New Zealand - admittedly with slightly more experience of making big-tournament finals, courtesy the Champions Trophy - will begin their campaign in the tournament that has given them their lone ICC trophy till date.

Very rarely do you not count a New Zealand side as one of the underdogs, but a team that has beaten South Africa and England on their home soils in one-day series recently has to be treated with some respect. The Champions Trophy might just be to New Zealand's liking. The crunched format means they don't have to sustain their run of form for too long.

And unlike in Ferrer's case, their opponent on Sunday will not be that impenetrable returning wall that goes by the name of Rafael Nadal. It is a side whose lot might be compared with that of Andy Murray before he finally, to Britain's relief, won a Grand Slam.

All the quality of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lasith Malinga has not been able to deliver a world title for Sri Lanka in over a decade. More than being told by the outside world that they have it in them, they know they are too good a side to have finished on the wrong end of four successive final appearances in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. In the last one, at the World Twenty20 final at home, they had West Indies 32 for 2 after ten overs and still blew it. Age was on Murray's side; it is not on the side of these four Sri Lankan greats. On Sunday, they will begin one of their last attempts to not go down in history as one of the best collections of men to not have won a world title.

PunterPolls Predictions

New Zealand is a team who can fight against the best team in the world but they have very obvious problem of playing spinners. Cardiff wicket is more or less flat as we have seen in the first match between India and South Africa. Should be a high scoring encounter (275+) .

By this time Sri Lanka have won the toss and elected to bat first. If New Zealand have to bat first they need to stop Sri Lanka under 275 otherwise its going to be very difficult for New Zealand to chase.

So to keep in mind the Sri Lanka is batting first and have descent bowling attached, we would like to go with Sri Lanka in this match.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 4th Match, Group A: New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 9 June

  • Sri Lanka (55% Votes)
  • New Zealand (45% Votes)