The ICC World Cup 2015 is going on in full swing and 12 games have been played so far. Except the Bangladesh-Australia game, every match has seen a winner. The hot favorites have kept the spectators hopeful of the ultimate glory with their performances, some big guns lost the plot performing poorly and are on the verge of being knocked out whereas the associate nations are trying to prove why ICC should include them in future editions of the tournament by trying to stage major upsets.
In this article, we shall explore the major talking points and look back at the memorable incidents of the tournament so far.
1. India are among the top four contenders of the trophy
Before the world cup, very few people considered India as the favorites of the tournament. They had passed two months in Australia without winning a single game which resulted in Dhoni stepping down from test captaincy of the team. But once the world cup began, the performance of the team changed completely.
India beat Pakistan in their inaugural match and their arch rivals did not stand any chance of winning the game. Despite their convincing margin of victory, there was still doubt in people’s mind whether they could beat the hot favorites of the tournament, South Africa. Not only did they beat the Proteas, they simply decimated them winning by 130 runs. Dhawan and Rahane revived their batting form helping the team post a mighty total of 307 and spinner Ashwin picked up 3 wickets to help their side win. South Africa were left helpless in the middle.
The win proves that India are far from being written off from being able to successfully defend the world cup. It’s still a long way to go for them. But right now, they are on top of their game.
2. The associate nations have made a point for their existence in the future editions of World Cup
England will host the world cup in 2019, with the number of participating nations being reduced to 10. England along with the teams ranked till 8 in the ICC ODI rankings will gain automatic qualification. The 9th and 10th ranked team along with the associate nations will have to contend for their spots at the 2018 World Cup Qualifier tournament in Bangladesh.
The associate nations however, have started their own way of protest; beating the regular test sides in world cup matches and making the point that they too are contenders to win matches against the big guns if given the facilities of playing regularly against them. Besides, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, ranked 9th and 10th respectively, have also made headlines with their performances, sending the message to ICC that their model of a 10 nation world cup would deprive the fans of thrilling matches, nail-biting finishers and big upsets.
It started with Zimbabwe almost chasing the 340 run target against South Africa. The next day Ireland chased the mighty total of 304 against West Indies and beat the inaugural champions of the ICC World Cup by 4 wickets. This was the biggest upset of the tournament so far!
Despite scoring 142, Scotland almost pulled off an upset against the Kiwis. But New Zealand ultimately won their game by 3 wickets. UAE scored 285 against Zimbabwe, bowled brilliantly but fell short in the end as Zimbabwe won by 4 wickets.
After losing their first game to Bangladesh by 105 runs, Afghanistan took on Sri Lanka today. Sri Lanka had to struggle with their run chase but in the end, their experience gave them the edge as they scored 236/6, winning by 4 wickets.
Alternatively, the results of the matches between the test nations have been very disappointing till now. The results of the matches are below:
New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs
Australia beat England by 111 runs
India beat Pakistan by 76 runs
New Zealand beat England by 8 wickets
West Indies beat Pakistan by 150 runs
India beat South Africa by 130 runs
The margins of victory/defeat suggest that the associate nations are not willing to let go of their rights to be a part of the world cup. It’s high time ICC realized this and made changes to the format of future world cups to ensure participation of these nations and add more competition and thrill to the game.
3. Which teams are likely to qualify and which teams are likely to miss out
Pakistan continued their trend of losing to India in world cups when they lost their opening game. Their condition went from bad to worse as they lost to West Indies in their second game by 150 runs. The thrashing defeat makes their qualification to the quarters almost impossible. Captain Misbah admitted that the team had performed awfully in all three departments of the game (batting, bowling and fielding). Unless they bounce back in their next game against Zimbabwe, Pakistan faces the risk of being eliminated from the group stage of the world cup.
England too have faced similar fate in this tournament. They lost both their games to the co-hosts of the tournament, Australia and New Zealand. Aussies steamrollered England by 111 runs at the MCG and England looked to regain confidence against the Kiwis. However, Tim Southee’s brilliant performance with the ball (7/33) annihilated the batting lineup of England as they could only manage to score 123 before being all out. Their next game will be against Sri Lanka and should they lose, their spot in the quarter finals will almost be taken away.
On the other hand, Bangladesh remain at no. 3 in pool A above Sri Lanka and England and have the chance to qualify for the quarter finals if they continue to do well in their upcoming matches. Ireland from the other pool are at no. 3 ahead of South Africa and Pakistan and have realistic chances of qualifying too!
Should both the teams or at least one of them qualify, the world cup will be more exciting to watch with the inclusion of these teams in the quarter-final along with the favorites of the tournament. Spectators will be hopeful of such occurrences that will keep people glued to these games.
4. The run-fest continues
There have been eight 300+ totals in 24 innings played so far; one match saw Ireland successfully chase a total of 304 set by West Indies and win the game! Till now, Australia have scored the highest total in the tournament, 342. Shikhar Dhawan tops the list of most runs in the tournament having scored 210 in 2 games. The trend is expected to continue as the batsmen will go on to score more tons and help their sides post mighty totals. Opponent batsmen will try to get past the targets to win the games! The rules of the game are helping the batsmen and it will be up to the bowlers to do something extraordinary to pick up more wickets and restrict opponents to low totals.
5. The hosts remain the favorites of the tournament
New Zealand and Australia are yet to lose a game in the tournament. The Kiwis outsmarted Sri Lanka in the opening game and decimated England in their last game to prove their dominance. They scraped past Scotland in a nail-biting encounter and kept their nerves cool to snatch the victory.
Australia, the other hosts have been unlucky as their game against Bangladesh at the Gabba was postponed due to rain. They shared a point with Bangladesh and stay at no. 2 in pool A, behind the Kiwis, having played a match less.
It will be exciting to see if any team can beat the hosts as the tournament progresses. Till then let’s enjoy the cricketing action and hope our heroes will lead their respective nations towards the ultimate glory!