Four teams – four of the best in the world – in the semifinals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after their respective cruises in the quarterfinals. One semifinal will ensure a first-time CWC finalist, while the other will see the winner of the last four World Cups have another crack at the title.
Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa were the four teams tipped to reach the semifinals, and the four have showed they are a level or two above the rest of the teams in the world at the moment. Below is the schedule, timings, fixtures and venues of the two semifinals.
1st semifinal: 24 March: New Zealand vs South Africa (2 pm local time, 6.30 am IST, 1 am GMT, 8 pm ET) at Eden Park, Auckland: New Zealand have won seven out of their seven games, and they showed their prowess with the bat, in particular, in the quarterfinal against the West Indies. Martin Guptill's double century will now, of course, be regarded as one of the great one-day innings, and the great thing about the knock was that New Zealand did not even need big contributions from Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum.
That could mean they are due a big innings in the semifinals, against a South Africa side, who thumped Sri Lanka in the quarters courtesy their outstanding bowlers. The batsmen were not put to the test in a high-profile clash, thus helping South Africa pull off their first ever knockout win in a World Cup match. Undoubtedly, the win would have given them the confidence they require to go all the way, and with the monkey now off their backs, expect South Africa to play more free cricket.
2nd semifinal: 26 March: India vs Australia: (2.30 pm local time, 9 am IST, 3.30 am GMT, 10.30 pm ET) at SCG, Sydney: India are the other team to have won all seven of their matches in this ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and the great thing about those wins have been that they have taken 10 wickets in each of those games. The bowlers have been the major reason behind India's turnaround, but no batting order will test them more than this Australia lineup, the one that tormented them for over two months in Test and ODI cricket.
Australia will know they have the psychological advantage over India, having lorded all over them in the past few months, but they will also know they will be up against a completely different side. India have looked fresh, spirted and as cohesive a unit as they come, and if they can move past the recent losses to Australia and take this game as a one-off, knockout with absolutely no thoughts about what has gone in the summer, the result could be different. The Aussies, though, will look to remind India of those previous battles, and with a batting and bowling lineup loaded with talent, they will be quietly confident of moving into the final at the MCG.
Two mouthwatering semifinals, capable of going either way – Tuesday and Thursday are going to be cannot-leave-the-couch days for all cricket fans.