Pakistan 13-8
Wasim Akram has assumed the aura and authority of Imran Khan and still talks to his old mentor every second day.

He also believe the present Pakistan side is stronger than Imran's 1992 World Cup winners and certainly no other team in the competition could afford to select Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed and then leave both out for the first four matches.

Pakistan's top order have not fired, a common failing this English spring, but the middle and late order have more than compensated. Inzamam-ul-Haq has struck the ball powerfully and cleanly and wicketkeeper Moin Khan, a master improviser, has the best run rate in the tournament.

Akram, himself, is a dangerous striker and remains a magician with new or old ball while Saqlain Mushtaq is a master of flight and finger spin.

Pakistan's fielding can be vulnerable and they had an off-day against Bangladesh, who on present indications will be celebrating their group win into the next millennium.

South Africa 15/8
South Africa, with a palpable hunger for success, has brought the same rigorously scientific approach to one-day cricket which proved so successful for generations of Springbok rugby sides.

Coach Bob Woolmer has used the latest sports techniques to elevate the South African fielding to new heights while packing the side with genuine international all-rounders, headed by the splendidly forthright Lance Klusner

Allan Donald remains a prince among fast bowlers, not as quick as he once was but still a deadly strike bowler at first change.

South Africa's strength -- organization and attention to detail -- may also be its weakness with doubts persisting over Hansie Cronje's captaincy when faced with the unexpected.

Australia 6/1
Victory over West Indies in their final group match saved Australia from elimination but it will still have to win its remaining five matches to regain the Cup.

Its position as third favorites reflects the ability of its leading players Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh and Michael Bevan rather than current form.

But Australia remains a formidable competitor, epitomized by its laconic gum-chewing captain Steve Waugh who remains the toughest cricketer in the world.

India 8-1
The Indians evoked memories of the 1996 World Cup runfest while racing to 373 for six against Sri Lanka and there may be more heavy scoring to come from Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and the peerless Sachin Tendulkar as the weather warms up.

Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad have delivered with the ball and there has been an unexpected bonus in the form of Debashish Mohanty, who bowls with an inswinger's action but manages to make the ball move sharply away off the pitch.

Anil Kumble's wrist spin will play a larger part as the pitches get harder and at 8/1 India is a good bet.

New Zealand 8/1
Geoff Allott, the highest wicket taker in the Cup, has given the New Zealand attack a cutting edge it would otherwise have lacked and the fielding has been well-drilled and polished.

New Zealand, though, had based their hopes on the uncomplicated stroke play of Nathan Astle and Craig McMillan in the top three and their repeated failures have thrust added pressure on the middle-order.

Roger Twose, their one batting success, could be elevated to opener and the technically correct Adam Parore promoted up the order to eradicate a weakness likely to prevent the Black Caps reaching the semifinals.

Zimbabwe 16/1
A win over New Zealand in their opening match would almost certainly ensure a semifinal spot for Zimbabwe who surprised everybody by taking a maximum four points from the opening round.

With a smaller playing base to select from than any of the other Super Six contenders, Zimbabwe's winning performance against South Africa was an inspiring example of unselfish teamwork.

Further success for Zimbabwe would be an appropriate reward for the Flower brothers Andy and Grant, who have been two of the game's most dedicated servants.

[This message has been edited by Peoples Champ (edited June 03, 1999).]