Even at half-way through the groups stages there is a clear gap between the top four of Australia, India, New Zealand and England, and the next six, and there is a very good chance that those will be our semi-finalists, and that makes the matches between the haves and the have nots all the easier to predict. With Afghanistan being dead last with no wins from four and looking worse with each game, while England look better, this one surely isn’t hard to predict.
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Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) England will win
I usually leave the winner as the last prediction or at least one of the last ones but I am very confident here. Not as confident as I would have been had we not had the two massive upsets when Pakistan beat England and especially when Bangladesh beat South Africa, but still pretty sure. Of course, there’s always rain. But we’ll probably only need 40 overs to decide this: 30 overs for Afghanistan before they are all out and 10 overs for England to chase them.
(2) Which English batsman will shine?
They are all in such incredible form that we can just about get a wheel of some kind and spin it around to see whose turn it is to get a big score. Perhaps it’s Eoin Morgan’s turn today. Maybe Ben Stokes is due for a big one. Who knows. Maybe we’ll even push Chris Woakes up to number 3 just to see if he can get a century.
(3) Jofra Archer will do even better
He’s been the difference between England being the best in the world and winning a World Cup. Teams who are merely the best in the world often lose World Cups, finishing runner up or semi-finalists or even missing the knockout stages altogether – just ask South Africa. But when you are head and shoulders ahead of the rest you can win the whole thing, and that’s what Jofra Archer brings. It’s not just that he is good but he is unfairly good. He shouldn’t even be allowed to play for England. He was just about eligible for the West Indies. But he’s doing really well. He can also bat a bit too, not that we’ve seen it.
(4) Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi will fail
They came into this tournament in such great form but really haven’t done enough and against England they don’t hold a lot of hope.
(5) It will be one-sided
I picked Afghanistan pre-tournament to win 3 matches – against Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh – because they are three teams they have beaten a lot recently. While they beat Pakistan in the warm-up match, I didn’t think they’d do that in the tournament proper. England was not a team I saw them beating, and, in the form they are in, I don’t see them coming close. Afghanistan will likely be saving themselves for the matches they can win, and this isn’t one of them.