Cricket World Cup 2015- The semifinals

Four very one-sided quarter-final matches have resulted in the advancement of four most deserving teams into the semi-finals. Pressure on the sides would be immense as they look to take a step forward towards lifting the Cup.It is that stage of the tournament where the skills won't matter. Infact, its the way the sides handle pressure that is going to make the difference. The first semi-final would see the 'chokers' face each other; a couple of teams which have qualified for the knockouts time and again only to succumb to pressure. On the other hand, the second semi-final would be contested between two teams who know how it feels to lift the prestigious trophy. The semi-finals would most certainly be thrilling and nerve-wracking and would pave the way for a dream final.

In the first semifinal, both the teams would look to carry on from where they left off in the quarter-finals. New Zealand have remained unbeaten in the tournament thus far, but, they'll have to start from scratch when they take on a strong South-African side. The Proteas have the most destructive bowling attack. It would be interesting to see what transpires when this bowling line-up takes on the likes of Brendon Mccullum and Martin Guptill. The Proteas, known for repeatedly choking at crunch situations, would want to go all the way this time around. The Black Caps, though, stand in way of the South-African dream. Infact, the Blacks enjoy home advantage and thus, according to me, hold slight edge over South Africa in this contest.

It was four years ago when India eliminated Australia from the 2011 World Cup, thus preventing Australia from winning the Cup for the fourth consecutive time. Australia would like to return the favour this time around, and they have a great chance of doing so as they enjoy home advantage. Moreover, the Aussies would rely on their quicks, who have been very impressive in the tournament so far, to deliver the goods one more time. India, on the other hand, depend massively on their batsmen. They would want a couple of their batsmen to score big and keep the opposition bowlers at bay. The toss is expected to play a huge role in this game, as the team batting first would have a clear advantage. Australia, as of now, have an all-round and a well balanced team. They seem to be the stronger team on paper and thus, according to me, have a greater chance of making it to the finals.

Though the home teams seem to have their noses slightly in front, its hard to say which two teams would find themselves in Melbourne on the 29th of this month. The final knockouts of this World Cup have the potential to be classics, as many experts would agree. Any of the four teams can end up victorious, and thats the beauty of it.

What Cricket Teaches Us...

Cricket, being a team game and a popular sport worldwide, teaches us many lessons in life. Sportsman spirit, team leadership and mental toughness are a few attributes one can pick up courtesy of cricket. In this article, I discuss three crucial life morals, a true cricket fan would relate to.

To begin with, what history teaches us is that you've got to be all-round in order to be successful over a period of time. The Australian cricket team, ten years ago, was often considered invincible. They had explosive batsmen at the top of the order and good finishers constituting the middle order. Moreover, they had agile, wicket-taking bowlers. They had all facets covered, and hence they dominated world cricket for a good ten years. This was the time when India had the best batsmen in the world and Pakistan had the most talented bowlers, but these teams were weak in one department of the game. The West Indies team in the early 1980s had destructive bowlers along with batsmen like Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd who were capable of demolishing any opposition. Nowadays, its South Africa dominating world stage for obvious reasons.

One phase every individual goes through at some point or the other in life is failure. Its not embarrassing to fail, but its embarrassing to keep failing for a long time. How a person reacts to failure and retaliates is what defines him. All those cricketers who are right now in the 'Hall of Fame' were once struggling to find a place in the side. Many of them were sidelined and criticized, but they all came back stronger and better-prepared. The Australian Cricket Board selects its players very carefully, based on their first-class careers. The runs scored or wickets taken aren't the only factors taken into account. Infact, the selection committee looks for players who have gone through the hard times at first-class level, and have subsequently come back with good performances. You might take things for granted when everything is going like a song. Its when things go deadly wrong that you need to change a few things and fight back.

Handling the pressure in crunch situations isn't for the feeble hearted. This is a skill you learn only with experience. The pressure factor comes into play whenever there's a do-or-die situation. For instance, when the play-offs of a multi-nation tournament are played, the previous matches in the tournament hold no importance and are forgotten. You've got to start from scratch. India might be the best team in the Cricket World Cup 2015 thus far and they might win all their group games. However, in order to lift the Cup, they'll have to win three pressure matches on a trot. There's no other alternative but to remain positive and stay mentally strong. Its much easier said than done.

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