Wednesday, March 28, 2007

End of World Cup Dream!!!

So much as has been written, spoken about this. So no more to write but just to say that it is the end of a world cup dream, a dream of more than 100 crore people.

This is India’s worst performance in recent times. History repeated itself when India made first round exit this year 2007, fourth time in the world cup history, earlier being in 1975, 1979 and 1992 editions. Interestingly though first tour of team India after this bad performance will be to Bangladesh, the minnows who outclassed the giants. This is one of Indian Cricket’s darkest phases.

By the way what were Greg and Dravid doing in those games. Probably experimenting for the next world cup. Two stalwarts retired from shorter version of the game after the world cup debacle namely Anil Kumble and Inzimam Ul Haq. But these were not in news in a big way, since it was overshadowed by their respective teams performances

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Caught In Bermuda Triangle?

First week of 9th cricket world cup and already we have seen some twists and turns in the fortunes of the big cricketing nations. Is this the sign of things to come in the following weeks? Let’s wait and see.

Already one of the premier cricketing nations, Pakistan is out of this world cup in the first stage itself. West Indies already made their way into the Super-8. There has been lots of hue and cry over the number of minnows playing in this world cup. But some stunning display by them should have left the critics with no explanation. First it was the turn of Ireland to shock the cricketing world with them forcing a tie with a test playing nation, Zimbabwe. And then came the big one, Ireland defeating Pakistan by 3 wickets after bowling them out for paltry 132. And there was more, Bangladesh had a caught a big fish, India, in their net with their accurate bowling and sharp fielding. These big upsets will surely shape the things to come in this tournament. India is in almost similar position as Pakistan. The threat of being eliminated in the first round looms large. But there is hope. India has won against Bermuda with huge margin but still Net Run Rate is still far behind that of Sri Lanka. India’s final game is against Sri Lanka if they lose that they can surely pack their bags. This time 2nd round called the super eight stage may have the so called minnows, Ireland making it through and Bangladesh earnestly making an effort. But effectively that stage will be super six since they are still minnows at the big stage and this too with the assumption that there are no more upsets in this tournament.

Consistency and complacency are the often used terms to describe a team in cricket. Best teams in the world like Australia, South Africa display the former and teams from the subcontinent perennially display the latter. That is what has happened to both India and Pakistan. Former got an alarm call soon and the latter later. If only India wakes up to the call can they survive and advance to the next stage. There can be no excuse for India’s defeat against Bangladesh and Pakistan’s defeat against Ireland. Media and expert hypes about this India team being most balanced and being best of all the squads sent to world cup are now seem worthless. India had been bad starters in the previous world cups and they have continued their tradition here too.

On the other front New Zealand got the better of England and South Africa’s Herschel Gibbs made the world record by hitting six sixes in an over against the Netherlands. Australia and Sri Lanka recorded huge wins against Scotland and Bermuda respectively. Observing the ‘upset trend’ in the first round, the second round in this tournament is going to be an interesting one.

Final note: initially I was under the impression that format of this world cup is best so far. But now it seems there is a serious flaw. With just one bad game both Asian big guns are out of the tournament. May be it was assumed that seeded cricketing nations, 2 from each group will qualify for the super 8 and now all calculations are in a tizzy. One big upset and you are out of the tournament. What do you say?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cricket Fever Is Back

Cricket world is all set to welcome the big event. Cricket World Cup 2007 is finally here. With 16 teams participating this is the biggest cricket tournament ever. Eternal favorites Australia have lost a bit of focus having lost their last 5 ODIs as final preparation for this mega event. But Australia can never be sidelined just because of that since in the past they have shown they can beat any team coming from nowhere just as in world cup 1999 as they lost first few games but only to end as victorious.

In the past there have been instances where defending champions loose out in the first round itself. In 1992, Australia (1987 champions) lost out in the first round itself. In 1996, Pakistan (1992 champions lost to India in the quarter finals to bow out of the championship. Similarly in 1999, Sri Lanka (1996 champions) never looked defending champions. But once Aussies were crowned champions in 1999 they have played like world beaters all these eight years including the 2003 world cup victory.

This time world cup is different in many ways. Biggest cricket tournament so far (16 teams). First time it is being played in West Indies which is another cricket crazy nation just like India. And the format allows the best eight teams to play against each other, which makes the luck factor less relevant. Only 1992 tournament held in Australia and New Zealand had a similar format. And most importantly this time all these 8 teams look strong contenders for the big title. For New Zealand and England, their recent victories against the mighty Aussies and the fact that they have never won the title should inspire them a lot. West Indies look to claim their past glory in their home grounds. Back to back series victories against West Indies and Sri Lanka should have done lot of good to India’s confidence to repeat 1983. Sri Lanka will be hoping that slow nature of the Caribbean pitches would help them to repeat 1996. Pakistan as enigmatic as ever is also a formidable opponent. South Africa was denied a fair chance in finals by the controversial Duckworth Lewis method in the semifinal against England in 1992 and then in 2003 they denied themselves a place in the semifinals by getting Duckworth Lewis arithmetic wrong against Sri Lanka. World No.1 in ODIs will be hoping rich harvest this time. And finally no explanations required for the kangaroos.

World cup has always sprung up few surprises with minnows outsmarting giants. This history goes back to 1983 when Zimbabwe defeated Australia. And in 1996, Kenyans got West Indies under the mat. In 1999, Pakistan was outsmarted by the Bangladesh. And finally in 2003, again Kenya defeated Sri Lanka thus gaining valuable points to enter the semifinals. What will be the surprise this time? Indications are already there with Bangladesh defeating New Zealand in a warm up match.

Surely this is going to be an exciting world cup. Inaugurated today but we have to still wait till March 13, 2007 for the first ball to be bowled, the first match being between West Indies and Pakistan. And let us wait for the new world champion to be announced on 28 April 2007.


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