Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Cricket World Cup 2015 begins...

The CWC 2015 started with the bang. Full houses for the NZ – SL, AUS – ENG and IND – PAK games. All the three games produced expected results. The winners (New Zealand, Australia and India) in their respective games delivered convincing victories.

Australia - England

Australia was momentarily brought to earth when England quickly pegged the wickets of Warner, Watson and Smith. But then the steep batting line up proved to be too much for England to hammer down. Finch, Bailey, Maxwell, Marsh and Haddin made sure Australia posted a mammoth 330+ on that huge MCG ground. England coming second was meagerly a formality.

For records, Finch scored century. The first century of the tournament while Finn bagged the first 5fer including a hat-trick in the final over. Clarke sat out for the opener. If Watson extends his poor run for another game or two and if Marsh continues to succeed like the way he is doing currently, it would not be too long before Australia flips Watson for Clarke. At the moment, Clock ticking for Watson.

New Zealand – Sri Lanka

One has to say, it is unfortunate for Sri Lanka to start their WC campaign against New Zealand.

India – Pakistan

The match hardly lived up to the hype. Pakistan barely put up a show against India. Kohli yet again hogged the lime light with a timely century. Shikar Dhawan, who has been under scanner for a while, sealed his spot in the XI by delivering in the game that matters. Raina made the most use of the weak Pakistan attack with his onslaught.

Now that Pakistan lost to India, they should revisit their strategy to get the campaign back on track. No business for Younis Khan to open the innings. It should be Shezad and Jameshed opening and Umar akmal should bat at No.3. Also there is no room for Umar Akmal to do wicket keeping. By any means, their bowling still looks brittle. The game against West Indies should be a good test for both Pakistan and West Indies.

West Indies - Ireland

This was the first upset of the WC. If you could foresee, this was always on the cards. I would prefer to blame the board. The board failed to pick the best possible squad for a global event simply because it could not sort out the difference of opinion (remember mid series pull out by WI players from India Tour). On top of it, the board named a kid as the Captain to be their ‘yes sir’. After all, the board must have thought that their best side is not going to win the WC. If they mix and match, the side could still make it to the playoffs. And one good day for any of their batsman/bowlers, WI could be playing the SF. And then everybody is proud of their little team’s achievement for making it this far. Obviously, things not going according to the plan.

The match up against Pakistan makes it very interesting. Two vulnerable teams playing against each other. This should be fun to watch.  

Zimbabwe Vs South Africa

Everybody expected a meek surrender of Zimbabwe against South Africa. Interestingly, Zimbabwe pulled a rabbit out and was ready to upset the giant when South Africa scorecard read 83/4. Thanks to brilliant centuries from Miller and Duminy that saved the day for South Africa with a total of 339. One would assume Zimbabwe would put a pity display chasing 339. Interestingly, Zimbabwe surprised with a batting performance 190/2 at the end of 30 overs. At this point the match was evenly poised. After Masakadza was dismissed at 80, the rest of the unit failed to take the challenge and finished at 277. Nevertheless it was a good fight by Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Vs UAE

The performance against the fellow African nation must have given the confidence to chase the target of 287 successfully against UAE. Probably the best match of the tournament so far. This rises Zimbabwe’s hopes of making it to the playoffs.

Games ahead…

After India beat Pakistan the confidence of the team and also the faith of the followers must have sky rocketed. To me, the match against South Africa is the real litmus test. This match will reveal as to how steep India can run into the tournament. If India can upset South Africa convincingly, then India can certainly fancy their chances of going past QF or even SF stages of the tournament. May be win finals??? That’s far fetch at the moment!!!

The failure of WI to overcome Ireland has certainly opened up Pool B. Zimbabwe’s fight against South Africa and Zimbabwe’s successful chase of UAE total bring Zimbabwe into contention. Of course, Ireland has already upset WI and is ahead of the race. Vulnerable Pakistan and West Indies in Pool B spice up the story. Between Zimbabwe, Ireland, Pakistan, West Indies, two of them should seal the bottom half of Pool B. Pakistan Vs West Indies match up should throw some light on the standings. If Pakistan can beat West Indies (which I expect to happen) then the fight for the last spot would be between Ireland and Zimbabwe alongside Pakistan as the third team. However, If West Indies can overcome Pakistan, Pool B gets exciting.

Scotland made a mockery of New Zealand when New Zealand lost as many 4 wickets inside 30 runs chasing a total of 142. In the end New Zealand chased the target losing 7 wickets. This should spice the game against England.


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