- Jagannadha C. Jayanti
- I would like to describe myself as a technologist by nature and marketing enthusiast by heart. I am an avid learner and I intend this blog to be a reflection of my learning, experiences and observations. If you want to know more about me all you have to do is go ahead and read my blog. I assure you, you will know me through my blogs.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The Cricket World Cup that was!
Words don’t do justice to pure ecstasy but if they do its only fair that I recap India’s victory exactly a month into their reign as world cup champions. For the first time in two decades (since the 1992 edition) we had a competition so open that it almost required a magician with a crystal ball to predict the winner right until the final moments of the finals. At the end the prayers of a billion people along with coming of form (at the right time) of a mercurial (yet talented) team meant that India were once again champions of the cricket world after 28 long years.While India winning the tournament justified their "favourite" billing it wasn’t an easy road at all for the favourites. So how did each of the 14 teams competing in the world cup fare? Let’s find out:
1. Kenya: Kenya looked the weakest and most underprepared of all the sides in the tournament. Their bowling lacked teeth their batting was equally inept. It was painful to watch one of the most promising associate nations of the past slip to such depths.
Highs: There weren’t many highs in Kenya’s campaign but scoring 264 in a losing cause against the then world champions Australia was definitely one of them.
Lows: Pretty much the entire tournament was a low but getting bowled out for 69 against New Zealand was the lowest of all of them.
2. Netherlands: Netherland’s with three overseas first class players looked to have the batting strength on flat tracks to upset the top sides but their inexperienced bowling let them down on many occasions.
Highs: Running England close in their opening encounter.
Lows: Surrendering meekly to Bangladesh without putting up much of a fight.
3. Canada: If there was a prize for the most improved associate nation then it must go to Canada. Full marks to Ashish Bagai’s team for rejuvenating themselves after the consecutive drubbings at the hands of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Their bowling wasn’t bad but batting steadily improved throughout the tournament giving us hope that there is still chance of cricket cementing a place in North America’s sports calendar.
Highs: Giving Pakistan a run for their money (for the most part) in their Group B encounter. Watching the 16 year old Nitish Kumar and 40 something John Davison (the youngest and oldest players in the tournament) walking out to open the batting against Zimbawe.
Lows: The failures in the initial matches and poor form of their most experienced player John Davison.
4. Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe did pretty much what they were supposed to do. They bashed the associate teams and were in turn squashed by the top sides. Their performance won’t help their reputation one bit. They remain the most beatable (future) test team.
Highs: Performances against the minnows.
Lows: (Performances against the minnows)’.
5. Ireland: Ireland lived up to their reputation of being giant killers and reignited the debate for including the associate nations in the future editions of the world cup. Their games with the top sides were competitive and they have a bunch of talented young players. So here’s hoping for more Celtic participation in the future global competitions.
Highs: Beating pre-tournament favourites England and scripting the greatest underdog stories ever (better than even Slumdog Millionaire).
6. Bangladesh: If you were a Bangladesh supporter you would have most probably developed psychotic tendencies watching their performances. The team promised so much but delivered so little when it mattered. But they did leave their mark with their incompetency. Bangladesh taught us how not to play cricket through their matches against West Indies and South Africa.
Highs: Beating England.
Lows: To call it a low would be an understatement, the capitulations against West Indies and South Africa touched unfathomable depths.
7. West Indies: West Indies played like a post Leon Spinks Muhammad Ali they were still capable of the odd devastating victory but also capable of being utterly demolished. There is no shortage of talent in the islands but discipline and work ethic (two qualities which make champions) are scarce without which it would be difficult for them to recapture the crown of the old.
Highs: Crushing Bangladesh.
Lows: Receiving a 10 wicket thrashing from Pakistan at the very site of their famous victory against Bangladesh.
8. England: In Andy Zaltman’s own words England could have won all six of their league matches, lost all six of them or even better tied all six of them. Their performances would have made the Barmy Army bipolar but they entertained like never before. They tried so hard to make a match out of every match that by the time they reached the quarterfinals they were all out of steam. Alas! after fielding their strongest team in two decades at the world cup they would still have to wait another four years for a chance at world championship glory.
Highs: All the league matches they played were pure entertainment but the win against eventual topper of the group South Africa should rank high.
Middle: Since this is England we also have a middle, the match against India which ended in a tie.
Lows: Losing comprehensively by 10 wickets to Sri Lanka in the .quarterfinals.
9. Australia: The four time world champions looked solid when they first started the tournament but a combination of ill luck (involving a washout) and some poor scheduling meant that Australians didn’t have a proper match for about 18 days in the tournament. Thereafter a combination of slow tracks, better competition and rustiness of the players exposed gaping holes in Australia's armour and sent them out of reckoning before the semifinals for the first time since 1992.
Highs: Performance against New Zealand.
Lows: Losing to Pakistan (the last side who beat them 12 years ago) and then getting knocked out of the tournament by India.
10. South Africa: South Africa have been the perennial favourites in the competition since they arrived on the big stage in 1992. This time they seemed to be well rounded than ever before. They had experience in their batting, variety in their bowling and their fielding was sharp as ever. They just seemed to lack the heart the vital ingredient that makes good teams great and great teams into champions. Their loss to England in the league stage created a blue print for others to follow and sure enough New Zealand exploited this susceptibility to wilt under pressure to knock South Africa out of the quarter finals.
Highs: Beating India in an extremely close encounter.
Lows: Choking out to New Zealand in the quarter finals.
11. New Zealand: New Zealand proved that even a team with limited resources could utilize their knowledge(New Zealand toured India and Bangladesh prior to the world cup) of the local conditions to make things work in their favour. New Zealand have been one of the most consistent performers in the world cups over the years and by the reaching the semi finals for the sixth time they did no disfavours to their records.
Highs: Knocking out South Africa in the battle of the teams “which never one a knockout” on the big stage.
Lows: Ordinary performances against Sri Lanka and Australia in the league phase.
12. Pakistan: For all those who thought that Pakistan cricket was finished after the spot fixing scandal the tournament proved that there was no dearth of natural talent in Pakistan. Pakistan ignited Group A with their performances and rightfully finished at the top of the group after running their way through Sri Lanka and Australia. Their performance in the quarter finals against West Indies was clinical and nicely set up the semi-final showdown with India which in all respects was the showpiece of the tournament. True, their batting, fielding and incompetent wicket keeping didn’t always back up the bowling but they do have some genuine match winners to watch out in their midst.
Highs: Even though the match against West Indies was more crucial handing Australia their first loss in twelve years in the world cups and ending their streak should rank among the more special moments of this world cup.
Lows: The top order which never quite got going, shoddy fielding and glovework which cost them matches (through dropped chances).
13. Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka were talented but also were tremendously lucky. Sri Lanka didn’t beat a single world champion side but still managed to reach the finals making them the first team to do so since the days of West Indies as champions. Sri Lanka’s match with Australia was rained out, they lost to Pakistan, and a potential clash with South Africa was averted when New Zealand stopped the Group B toppers. With all due respect to the Lankan talent I just didn’t feel they were tested enough to deserve a spot in the finals.
Highs: Demolishing England by 10 wickets in the quarter finals.
Lows: Losing the final after posting a huge total.
14. India: if somebody told me before the tournament that India would be winning the cup I wouldn’t have believed it. Why? Weren’t India the pre-tournament favourites? Yes they were but there were quite a few grey areas, the bowling lacked sting, the team had no genuine all rounders and the fielding was pathetic. True, the batting was top notch but batting alone doesn’t win games and the dearth of top notch bowlers and fielders was the bane of India in many of the recent global tournaments. But true champion sides display grit, heart and turn weaknesses into strengths as the tournament progresses which was just what India did. Nothing was easy from the time India was placed in the Group of death, Group B. The tie against England and the loss against South Africa taught lessons which India learnt well. By the time of the last league match against West Indies India was a transformed side and that showed in their later performances. Great teams don’t get stopped by individual brilliance and India survived four great performances (two five wicket hauls and two centuries) in succession and consecutively eliminated four world champions on their way to their second world cup victory.
Highs: Winning the world cup for the second consecutive time.
Lows: The match against South Africa but we didn’t know then that the loss was only a minor bump on the road to victory.
It’s not everyday you pick yourself up to chase down a huge total and it’s not everyday that a team fights two finals before the actual one (Australia in quarters and Pakistan in semis). In the end it didn’t matter at all the team which faced the toughest obstacles won and that victory put a smile on a billion faces. Everybody now has stories to tell and memories which would last a life time.
Champions of the World - Pure ecstasy!!!
Until next time,