Eventually, just four remained as the cricket World Cup’s semi-final stage loomed into view.
Australia, India, South Africa and New Zealand all still harbour hopes of lifting the famous trophy in two game’s time, but who should Ladbrokes customers pin their own punting hopes on?
Here’s a rundown of the four, widely predicted, World Cup semi-finalists:
Having weathered a Wahab Riaz-shaped storm with the bat in their quarter final against Pakistan, the co-hosts are through to their fifth semi-final in six World Cups.
Despite their formidable history, they have had a fragmented run to this point of the tournament so far. Long waits between games and travelling rigours seem to have sucked the rhythm out of this side and they were far from their menacing best in overcoming Pakistan.
Their skinny price as tournament favourites is far too short to jump on.
For the first time in the country’s history, South Africa won a World Cup knockout match. Now they just need to win two more to claim a first, long awaited, trophy.
Although the choking monkey should finally be flung from their backs, AB de Villiers is still answering questions over his side’s perceived fragile mentality at such a pressured stage of the competition.
That could stoke the fires of determination among the group even further, but the fact they lost more games than any of the four semi-finalists in getting to this point tells its own story.
New Zealand sent the biggest message to their remaining rivals in their quarter-final, posting 393 against the West Indies thanks to Martin Guptill’s mammoth 237 not out, before bowling Jason Holder’s side out in 30 overs for 250.
The Kiwi’s got on a roll before this tournament started and managed to keep it going in the comfort of their home surroundings throughout the competition.
How travelling to Melbourne for the final will affect them, should they get there, is a worry, but this is the form horse in the race, at a ludicrously long price.
That the only remaining unbeaten sides in the competition sit as the two outsiders in the market to win it indicate just how much Australia’s odds are skewing the market.
India have let the determination of defending the crown they won four years ago drive them through the tournament.
Before the World Cup started, Australia used the Indian side as its play thing in the Tri Series with England, expect MS Dhoni’s well-grooved side to put up a far bigger fight this time around.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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