2015 ICC Cricket World Cup – Semi-Final Previews

The following are previews with betting tips for the 2015 ICC World Cup semi-finals.

Based on the latest ICC ODI rankings, the semi-finals feature the top four sides in world cricket: Australia (1), India (2), South Africa (3) and New Zealand (4). The quarter-finals failed to produce any nail biting results, but on paper both semi-finals look to be excellent fixtures.


1st Semi-Final – New Zealand vs. South Africa

Tue Mar 24 (50 ovs) 01:00 GMT | 14:00 local 09:00 AWST | 11:30 ACDT |12:00 AEDT
Eden Park, Auckland
Compare bookmaker odds for New Zealand v South Africa

New Zealand form:
– Won by 98 runs v Sri Lanka
– Won by three wickets v Scotland
– Won by eight wickets v England
– Won by one wicket v Australia
– Won by six wickets v Afghanistan
– Won by three wickets v Bangladesh
– Won by 143 runs v West Indies

New Zealand have been one of the most consistent sides this world Cup, winning all six group stage games before defeating the West Indies comfortably. History shows, however, that it’s not always the most consistent side that wins the World Cup, but the one that finds top form at the sharp end of the tournament, which is exactly what South Africa have done. New Zealand will be buoyed, however, by the recent improvement of Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, who have had disappointing summers. Many asked the question of what New Zealand would do if they lost Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson early, but the 393/6 performance against the West Indies answered that question emphatically. From a bowling standpoint Trent Boult has been fantastic, however Tim Southee has been relatively quiet of late and Daniel Vettori was expensive in the quarter-finals. Their bowling attack will definitely have its work cut out given the small confines of Eden Park, however to New Zealand’s advantage is the fact that they know the unique venue much better than their opponents. Also, South Africa lost to Pakistan in the group stage at this venue after being bowled out for 202 in 33.3 overs. The last major positive for New Zealand is Brendon McCullum’s aggressive and pro-active captaincy. The side fields very well too. The Black Caps have been hit by the loss of fast bowler Adam Milne due to a heel injury. Matt Henry will replace Milne in the squad of 15, subject to ICC approval. New Zealand announced that they will wait and view the pitch and weather conditions on Tuesday before selecting between Matt Henry, Mitchell McClenaghan and Kyle Mills for the game day XI.

South Africa form
– Won by 62 runs v Zimbabwe
– Lost by 130 runs v India
– Won by 257 runs v West Indies
– Won by 201 runs v Ireland
– Lost by 29 runs v Pakistan (D/L method)
– Won by 146 runs v UAE
– Won by 9 wickets v Sri Lanka

South Africa were one of the pre-tournament favourites due to their strong batting line-up and pace attack, but two losses in the group stage raised questions again about their poor World Cup record. In the group stage South Africa won every fixture where they batted first and lost both fixtures where they batted second, which drew attention to their poor recent record of chasing totals. In the quarter-finals Sri Lanka batted first and posted a poor total of 133, making South Africa’s run chase easy, however it remains to be seen how poised they will be if they find themselves chasing a big total. South African’s won’t need reminding that in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand, they were chasing a modest 222, but collapsed from 108-2 to 172 all out. A major positive for South Africa, however, was the strong performance of opener Quinton de Kock against Sri Lanka. As New Zealand have done with Guptill, South Africa stood by de Kock during his slump and it appears to have paid dividends, with the promising batsman finding some form at just the right time.

Recent head-to-head history:
– New Zealand won a World Cup warm up against South Africa comfortably. NZ posted 331/8 before bowling out South Africa for 197, with Trent Boult taking 5 wickets.
– In Auckland New Zealand have a 3-3 record against South Africa
– The two sides last played in Auckland in 2012, with South Africa winning comfortably
– South Africa have won their last 5 straight official matches against NZ on New Zealand soil
– Since 2004 NZ have a 5-6 home record against South Africa
– Since 2007 NZ have a 5-9 record against South Africa

Betting: this game could go either way. If South Africa can avoid losing wickets to Trent Boult they will be hard to beat, but New Zealand have enough firepower to accumulate a massive total as well. For New Zealand to have the best chance of winning they will need to bat first, post a big total and then try and put South Africa under pressure. South Africa meanwhile will need to keep wickets in hand, survive Trent Boult and get Brendon McCullum out quickly. Bookmakers have understandably found separating the two sides difficult. The mood in the South African camp is very good at the moment and I felt a better side than the West Indies could have chased down New Zealand’s 393 in the quarter-finals. If South Africa play to their best they should be too strong, so I would back South Africa in the head-to-head at 1.83 (William Hill).

For top batsmen markets, keep an eye on the South African middle order. In the warm up game Trent Boult ripped through the South African top order, with Jean-Paul Duminy the top scorer in the match. Vernon Philander was the second top scorer for South Africa that day, so there’s good value to be found if history repeats itself. Duminy is currently offered at 71.00 for top match scorer and 19.00 for top South African run scorer (Sportsbet) .


2nd Semi-Final – Australia vs. India

Thu Mar 26 (50 ovs) 03:30 GMT | 14:30 local 11:30 AWST| 14:00 ACDT | 14:30 AEDT
Sydney Cricket Ground
Compare bookmaker odds for Australia v India

Australia form:
– Won by 111 runs v England
– Match abandoned v Bangladesh
– Lost by one wicket v New Zealand
– Won by 275 runs v Afghanistan
– Won by 64 runs v Sri Lanka
– Won by 7 wickets v Scotland
– Won by 6 wickets v Pakistan

Apart from looking susceptible to some good pace bowling spells against New Zealand and Pakistan, Australia have been very strong this tournament as expected. Unlike New Zealand, Australia won’t have to leave their home country to win the tournament so they are the rightful favourites to win the World Cup at this point. From a batting perspective Australia have been good, getting contributions from numerous players during the tournament, however they will be hoping opener Aaron Finch can get out of his minor slump. From a bowling perspective in the group stage only Mitchell Starc performed consistently well, so Australia will be buoyed by Josh Hazlewood’s four wicket haul with an economy of 3.50 against Pakistan in the quarter-finals. The SCG is expected to provide some turn and grip for spin bowlers, so Australia’s fortunes on Thursday will depend on how they handle the Indian spin bowling attack and on how well they can bowl with spin.

India form:
– Won by 76 runs v Pakistan
– Won by 130 runs v South Africa
– Won by nine wickets v UAE
– Won by four wickets v West Indies
– Won by eight wickets v Ireland
– Won by six wickets v Zimbabwe
– Won by 109 runs v Bangladesh

After a horrid Test and ODI tour of Australia, India enter this fixture with great momentum having found much needed form and confidence during the course of the World Cup. Numerous players have been recording large scores and India’s bowling attack has improved in leaps and bounds. India have posted 300+ totals in all three fixtures where they batted first and they handled their four run chases well. India have also bowled out every side they have faced this tournament, a feat no other side has accomplished. The turn and grip that the SCG is expected to provide should favour India because they boast a better spin bowling attack. Also in India’s favour is the expectation that up to 70% of tickets have been snapped up by Indian fans, with reports of thousands of Indian supporters flying in from the likes of India, the USA, UK, and Singapore. Given the amount of noise generated by the fanatical Indian support, it may sound like more than 70% in attendance are supporting India, so this probably won’t feel much like a home fixture for Australia. The question remains, however, whether the Indian players can overcome the baggage from their winless tour against Australia.

Recent head-to-head history:
– Australia have a 12-1 record against India at the SCG
– Since 2008 Australia have a 6-4 home record against India
– Since 2012 Australia have a 6-4 record against India

Betting: if the SCG assists the spinners as it is expecting to, Australia will have their hands full on Thursday. India look completely rejuvenated since their tour while Australia were helped by some poor fielding to get past Pakistan in the quarter-finals. I predict Australia will win, however the head-to-head odds of 1.36-1.43 on Australia look to be too short to be of any value. I would instead take the value and back India in the head-to-head at 3.20 (William Hill).

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