Will India lift the World Cup for the third time?

Kersi - Raina


Suresh Raina

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Thanks to the ferocious hitting by Suresh Raina (110 not out with four sixes) and captain courageous MS Dhoni (85 not out with two sixes) India beat gallant Zimbabwe on Saturday to enter the Quarter Final.

Now they will meet Bangladesh in Melbourne on Thursday the 19th March. On current form and reputation they should win and meet the winner of Australia and Pakistan in the Semi Final in Sydney on 26th March.

Indian supporters will pray to the Almighty that Pakistan upsets Australia because India has beaten Pakistan in ALL their World Cup matches since its inception in 1975. The all important Final will be staged in Melbourne on 29th March.

A point of interest is that four teams from Asia ”“ India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh ”“ have made it to the Quarter Final stage.

So far most of the matches have been enjoyable with quite a few thrilling finishes and outstanding batting and bowling performances.

The batting stars have been Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan from Sri Lanka, AB de Villiers from South Africa, Brendon McCullum from New Zealand, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Raina from India, Brendan Taylor from Zimbabwe, Chris Gayle from West Indies and the Australian swashbuckler Glenn Maxwell, the Errol Flynn of cricket.

The outstanding bowlers have been Mitchell Starc from Australia, Trent Bout and Tim Southee from New Zealand, and Mohammed Shami from India among others.

Below is India’s winning performance in the six matches so far.

  • Beat Pakistan by 76 runs in Adelaide. Man of the Match: Kohli scoring 107 runs.
  • Beat strong South Africa by 130 runs in Melbourne watched by about 90,000 fans. MoM: Shikhar Dhawan 137.
  • Beat UAE by 9 wickets in Perth. MoM: Ravichandran Ashwin taking 4 for 25.
  • Beat West Indies by 4 wickets in Perth. MoM: Mohammed Shami 3 for 25.
  • Beat Ireland by 8 wickets in Hamilton. MoM: Dhawan 100.
  • Beat Zimbabwe by 6 wickets in Auckland. MoM Raina 110 not out.

Thus India not only won all her six matches convincingly but also all MoM awards.

I realise that it is easy to be wise after the event but the CWC could have been better organised.

Here are my suggestions:

The final Test between Australia and India concluded in Sydney on 10 January this year. Then there was a meaningless Tri Nation one-day series between Australia, India and England.

The ICC CWC started on 14th February; 35 days after the Test series ended. The Final will be played on 29th March, the tournament lasting 44 days.

Isn’t it too long for a cricket season to go on when the Rugby League and AFL seasons start in early March and the daily newspapers and TV channels give three to four times more coverage to NRL and AFL matches than to the all important CWC?

Instead of 14th February, the CWC should have commenced on Saturday the 24th January, the long weekend, with 26th January being Australia Day, India’s Republic Day and a public holiday.

Also instead of lasting for 44 days with long breaks in between matches, the Final could have been held on Sunday the 1st of March, thus the tournament lasting for 35 days.

The opening India ”“ Pakistan clash could have been held on the MCG where the crowd would have neared a world record crowd of 100,000. (It was held in Adelaide instead with capacity crowd of around 51,000)

Apart from Scotland and UAE, the lowly ranked countries ”“ especially Bangladesh and Ireland ”“ performed well. A 12 team CWC would work better in future.

Now to the colour clothing by different teams. The rationale behind using different colour clothing in one-day internationals was two-fold: for better visibility of the white ball for batsmen and for umpires, and to distinguish between rival teams.

The first purpose is satisfied. But with England, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan donning dark blue uniforms and many countries wearing yellow to yellow-green attire, the second purpose is lost.

Coming back to India and the World Cup: IF India wins the Final in Melbourne on 29th March ”“ a big IF ”“ it will be their second World Cup win in a row and their third triumph, having won it at Lord’s, England in 1983 and in Mumbai in 2011.

Perhaps I am going too far ahead and jumping the gun!

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