Blue v Black

Tomorrow morning at 03.00 CDT/09.00 BST is the fourth ODI between India and England. I’m hoping for an England fightback (and some changes to the XI) but I’m not optimistic. I’ll be missing the first part of the match because it is conveniently at the same time as the final of the Rugby World Cup. (Actually it is quite convenient because I probably wouldn’t get up just to see England play like shite again.)

New Zealand play France in a match that the All Blacks ought to win because they are the better side and ought to lose because they have a World Cup hoodoo against France. Though actually it’s probably fairer to just say that New Zealand have a World Cup hoodoo; against France they have actually won three and lost two. The problem for the All Blacks is that those two losses have both been in knockout matches, whilst of their three victories only one has been in a knockout match (the 1987 final). The other two were in the 2003 third place playoff (or Bronze Final as they’re calling it now) and in the group stage of this World Cup.

France have had their much publicised mutiny in the ranks, but are riding on a wave of confidence. They’ve pulled off two upsets in the knockout stages already and they clearly feel that they can pull off another. They will certainly have to play better than they did against Wales, however and will be unlikely to be aided by dodgy refereeing. By comparison, the All Blacks looked a bit fraught in the first half against Argentina, but quite comfortable since then. They have coped well with the loss of Dan Carter and look strong favourites. But then, when have New Zealand ever not looked strong favourites? (In rugby, I mean.) Despite being consistently the best side they have not won since the opening tournament. And, going off the media reports, the side and their fans actually seem to have less confidence than Les Bleus. Perhaps that’s a good thing for them. Their could be accused of overconfidence in their previous losses.

My prediction: France 9-22 New Zealand.

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