by Deepanshu Srivastava
After almost a month of mega cricket event, the tournament T20 I World Cup 2021 came to an end on November 14 leaving behind many broken-hearts, unforgettable cricketing -shots, unmatched score-chasing, unimaginably brilliant and dropped catches, and top of it sweet and sour memories of nonstop 26 days of cricket of international standards. It mesmerized the cricket fans from all the cricket-playing nations.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been doing a commendable job of promoting the game of cricket in those countries where the game is not so popular. It provides entry to some of such countries in every T-20 I and makes their two groups and picks up the best 2-2 teams from both groups and inducts them into the main WC fold. In this edition, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Ireland Netherlands (GroupA) and Scotland, Bangladesh, Oman, Papua New Guinea (Group B) played their league matches till October 22, and based on their points tally Sri Lanka and Namibia from Group A and Scotland with Bangladesh from Group B made their entry into the main tournament which started from October 23. The total number of countries which clashed for the prestigious World Cup was 12 (called super 12) – 4 from above novice nations (called associate nations) and 8 registered test playing nations.
HIGHLIGHTS OF SUPER 12 MATCHES-
All 12 nations in the super 12 were put into 2 groups-Group 1 (England, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and Bangladesh) and Group 2(Pakistan, New Zealand, India, Afghanistan, Namibia, and Scotland). This stage of the tournament started with the match between two tough teams of Group 1-Aussies and Protease. As expected, the match was so closely finished-one that it was difficult to know the result till the last over, a beauty of T-20 games. The second match was a cakewalk for Britishers as they snatched the victory from the jaws of West Indians early by bowling their batters out cheaply. In the fifth match, Afghanistan surprised everyone and built up a huge score of 190 runs which was difficult for Scotland to reach and they were bundled out just for 60 runs to face the biggest defeat of the tournament. In match no. 11, West Indians won a thriller against Bangladesh by mere 3 runs giving the viewers a breath-stopping end. In match no 14 between England and Australia, the Britishers thrashed the Kangaroos with aid of electrifying batting of Buttler by 8 wickets and signaled themselves as the possible winner of the cup. The ONLY century of this world cup came in match no 17 which was played between England and Sri Lanka when Buttler hit 101*all along the ground making the way for Britishers to register an easy win. India’s fate was hanging on the outcome of the match no.28 between New Zealand and Afghanistan. The Kiwis silenced the cricket pundits of their childish permutations and combinations in favour of India when they beat Afghanistan comfortably by a big margin of 8 wickets. This result made the early exit of India from the World Cup 2021 even without reaching the semi-final stage. The top 2 teams from Group-1 -England and Australia and the top two teams from Group 2- Pakistan and New Zealand entered the semi-finals.
INDIA’S EARLY EXIT
After the two humiliating defeats of team India against Pakistan and New Zealand, India’s chances of reaching the semi-final had diminished. Much has been written and spoken about these two defeats in print and electronic media (see also our write-up on the topic in the November 7 issue of this journal). India then played against Afghanistan, Scotland, and Namibia, the 3 newbies of the tournament of its group. As expected, India won all the 3 matches easily as there was no match of team India with them. However, for academic purposes and record books, India won three matches out of its 5 league matches! KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma added one-half century each in their kitties by playing against those teams which are learning the game of cricket. It was for anyone, seeing the standards of top teams, Australia, England, South Africa, and New Zealand that Indian batters, especially youngsters, stand nowhere in front of them. BCCI should think of getting them coached by the likes of Ricky Ponting, Simon Katich, and such other specialists who are most of the time available in India. BCCI should also think of conducting the IPL every alternate year as the cash-rich IPL has been a good cause of distraction for young cricketers who want to mint money in the shortest period of timekeeping aside the national pride.
THE FIRST SEMI-FINAL
A real setback for England which was seen as one of the finalists of the tournament as the Kiwis defeated England with the help of super exciting innings of Mitchell(72*),who hit 4 fours and 4 sixes, Conway (46)who hit 5 fours and one six and pinch hitter Neesham who scored 27 in just 11 deliveries with 3 sixes and one four. The Kiwis outsmarted England’s score of 166/4 in their allotted 20 overs by scoring 167 in 19 overs. A splendid performance by the Kiwis batters by their cracker-bursting performance.
THE SECOND SEMI-FINAL
This match was a reminder to Team Pakistan of the popular saying that “the catches win the matches”. In his over-enthusiasm and aggressive approach, Hasan Ali ran ahead of a high catch given by Kangaroo’s stumper Wade and dropped his catch on the third ball of the 19th over off star bowler of the tournament Shaheen Afridi. Wade utilised this opportunity and hit three consecutive sixes off the last three balls of Afridi. This sparkling display of batting by Wade did the impossible task of taking Aussies into the final as the Kangaroos needed 18 runs in just nine deliveries. Other super hitters with their bats were Warner (49), Marsh (28), and Stoinis(40). Although set a safe target of 177 by Team Pakistan, Aussies achieved it in 19 overs and Team Pakistan was denied its entry into the final by the “will not give away till the last ball“ approach of the fighter batters of Australia. A real thriller of the tournament.
THE GREAT FINALE
For the final of the tournament, the Kangaroos locked horns with the Kiwis at Dubai International Stadium. There was great enthusiasm in the cricket lovers to see a big clash between the two toughest teams of the tournament. On the contrary, the first 10 overs of the game were dull and slow when Kiwis started playing first. Even the power play was not fully utilised to gear up the score and it looked as if the final will be a low-scoring match. The score was only 57 runs in 10 overs. The credit goes to Aussies pacer Hazlewood who claimed three valuable wickets of the Kiwis using his perfect in and off cutters. He gave away only 16 runs in making the Kiwis camp tense. But kudos to captain Williamson who by playing a captain’s knock accelerated the innings and made 85 runs in just 48 balls and he reached a milestone of this World Cup by making the fastest half-century only in just 32 balls. New Zealand set a target of 173 runs. Australians hammered the Kiwis pace battery and moved ahead with 2 big partnerships. First, between Warner and Marsh (92) and then between Maxwell and Marsh (66). The match became one-sided and Kangaroos won the tournament by 8 wickets making the way for their maiden World Cup victory. Like on two earlier occasions, New Zealand could not clinch the trophy even after reaching the final for the third time. For his aggressive performance with the bat throughout the tournament, Aussies Warner was adjudged as the Player of the tournament.
About the Author:
An interpretative journalist by profession, Deepanshu Srivastava is a sports and fiction writer from Pune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.