Cow Corner

Cow’s team of the group stage

Cow Corner

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It only took 42 games, but we finally know our quarter-finalists.

Actually, if Cowers makes it sound like drudgery, that's unfair. The group stages have been more exciting than the 2003 World Cup multiplied by the 2007 World Cup.

And that's not just because England wobbled from bewilderingly bad to bafflingly brilliant as sure as tick follows tock.

Everyone has been beaten at some stage (though, if you like that kind of omen, you might be heartened to know that England are the only team left in the competition yet to lose to another of the quarter-finalists), and we're absolutely none the wiser as to who will go on to take the title.

Plus - and this is the best bit - there have been some remarkable individual displays from some of the game's best known figures, and some relative newcomers.

Cow Corner has been scribbling away compiling a team of the tournament, and despite there being numerous deserving candidates, this is the side on which he has settled.

Graeme Swann, sorry - no place for you. Virender Sehwag - an innings of 175 just doesn't cut it. Dale Steyn - no room at the inn.

The standard has been that good - and the talent has been spread evenly, with at least one representative from every quarter-final nation in Cowers' XI:

 

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1. Sachin Tendulkar (India) - 326 runs at 54.33, 100s: 2 50s: 0
 
Twice the Little Master has played extraordinary knocks - once against England, once against South Africa. Although on neither occasion did he emerge on the winning side, Tendulkar is a winner, even having the good grace to walk after the umpire missed his edge to Ravi Rampaul.
 

 

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2. AB de Villiers (South Africa, wk) 318 runs at 106.00, 100s: 2 50s: 1
 
AB de Villiers might just be the best batsman in the world on form. Began with a pulsating ton against the West Indies, followed it with another to down the Dutch, and helped steer the successful chase against India with a quick-fire 50. Deserves a lift up in the batting order from his spot at four for the Proteas.
 

 

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3. Jonathan Trott (England) 329 runs at 56.00, 100s: 0 50s: 4

Don't be fooled; Trott is a sensational one-day player. Four key fifties in six innings in all match situations - chasing against the Netherlands, upping the scoring rate against the West Indies, digging his team out of holes against South Africa and Bangladesh. He's performing a role at three England didn't even realise they needed, and couldn't currently manage without.

 

 

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4. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, captain) 363 runs at 121.00 100s: 1 50s: 2

Sangakkara is one of the most elegant and clinical players around - a classy batsman who can score at a surprising lick and rarely gives his wicket away - as three not outs from his six innings at the tournament suggests. Also as good a wicket-keeper as anyone around, but gets a rest from that role in this line-up to concentrate on the captaincy.

 

 

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5. Yuvraj Singh (India) 284 runs at 94.66 100s: 1 50s: 3, 9 wickets at 25.22
 
It's a statistical curiosity that India's middle order has suffered while Yuvraj has plundered runs. He guided the chases against the Netherlands and Ireland, then unleashed his full repertoire against the West Indies with a telling ton. And though Cowers could just about find a place for Yuvraj on batting alone, his 9 wickets (including a five-fer) give him an extra edge.
 

 

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6. Ross Taylor (New Zealand) 245 runs at 81.66 100s: 1 50s: 1

There are plenty of candidates for a space in the middle order, but what the team of the group stages need after five superb batsmen at the top is a finisher - and anyone who saw Taylor's innings against Pakistan, where his last 62 runs came from 16 balls, would have a hard time leaving the New Zealander out of the line-up.

 

 

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7. Brett Lee (Australia) 12 wickets at 15.83
 
Lee was on a one-man mission to protect Australia's unbeaten record against Pakistan, finding life in a pitch where colleagues Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson found little. With wickets in every match, pace, experinence and guile, Lee is the man to take the new ball.

 

 

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8. Umar Gul (Pakistan) 13 wickets at 14.61

Gul has been exceptional in limited overs cricket for some time, and has been at times virtually unplayable. His spells in vain against New Zealand (3-36) and Australia (3-30) were as good as any quick in the tournament. Finding outswing and inswing with new ball and old ball alike, and able to bowl the yorker almost at will, he has been a go-to man in any innings.

 

 

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9. Kemar Roach (West Indies) 13 wickets at 12.00
 
When Roach gets it right, he's unplayable. Capable of bowling at 95mph, and with a hat-trick to his name at this tournament already, the West Indian has been taking a wicket every three overs in the subcontinent.
 

 

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10. Imran Tahir (South Africa) 12 wickets at 9.83

Tahir has had to bide his time for a chance to shine in the international arena. Now that he's here, aged 31, the leg-spinner achieved the biggest haul of any bowler in history after 3 ODIs. Despite a two-game absence through injury, his record is still the envy of any bowler in the competition. Not bad for a rookie.

 

 

11. Shahid Afridi (Pakistan) 17 wickets at 11.57

Afridi has dazzled at this tournament, but strictly as a bowler. His leg-breaks and googlies have been cleaned batsmen up time and again, and he's also had the confidence to bowl himself in powerplay situations. However, for his crimes against batting, he is relegated by Cowers to the foot of the batting order until such point as he remembers some other shots than the forward defensive and the slog down the throat of long-on.

 

What do you think? Who's missing from this line-up? Will Ian Bell force his way into the middle order with three consecutive tons? Leave a comment below!

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SHOT OF THE DAY: Darren Bravo lifted Ravi Ashwin over the top for the most effortless and yet venemous six. Squint and you would have thought it was Brian Lara at work. Sadly for the West Indies, it was not.

STAT OF THE DAY: Seven for 50, eight for 34 - the two remarkable collapses (the first by India, the second by the West Indies) which suggest that both sides have work to do ahead of the knockout stages.

TWEET OF THE DAY: "We could end up in Colombo tomorrow. Last time I was there the tuk tuk man let me drive and I defeated Harmy in an epic wacky race..." - England fans will hope Graeme Swann comes away with different memories of his next trip to Colombo.

CAPTION COMPETITION: The Pakistan fan dressed like a troll was not donning the national colours at all, suggests fetchthat: "That's the last time I use that cheap sunblock!" That tickled Cow, so the glory of the winning competition goes to you.

Your next challenge is to find the right words to explain this 'dog on the wicket' moment from today's game in Chennai:

 

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COMING UP: Doubtless you won't believe us after 42 games, but it's true: there's no cricket tomorrow. In fact, you'll have to wait until Wednesday for the first of the quarter-finals. Mercurial Pakistan take on the hit-and-miss West Indies in Dhaka - play starts at 8.30am UK time - expect anything.

Follow Cow Corner on Twitter! https://twitter.com/king_pair 

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