ODI vs T20. ODI wins a thriller!
Yes, it will live to die another day, may be. So, bad was the state of ODIs that the ICC had decided to call this World Cup, “the cup that counts.” Perhaps it did, more for the ODI format and for the ICC’s ability to save it, than it will to the team that will eventually win it. Over the past couple of years, ODI format almost seemed to come down on its knees, crawling and gasping for breath. The TRPs went down, the stands were empty and individual governing boards even changed their domestic formats. And, then the CWC 11 came around. With 4 associate teams, the chances of meaningless, one sided contests was high. The format seemed unbearably long. A month full of matches, to give us 8 quarter finalists which even a 6 year old could predict didn’t really sound attractive.
But whoever thought 2011 will be a repetition of the 2007 fiasco had to eat his words. The World cup has reached the semi final stage, and unlike in 2003 or 2007, we are still not sure who could lift the cup. There have been some thrilling finishes; in fact, I might not be entirely wrong to believe we had more nail biting encounters than we had one sided affairs.
To start with, ODIs have proved themselves to be entertaining, in spite of the 20 over middle-of-the-innings phase. It has now left T20 slightly behind, because it is giving room for strategies, unlike T20′s which is usually slam band. The batting powerplay has been a master stroke, creating doubts and concerns in both the teams that play the game. Tactical moves like starting the game with spinners and fast bowlers bowling in the middle to extract reverse have been very interesting.
The second good thing about this world cup has been its unpredictability in terms of scores. There was a fear about pitches being too batsmen-friendly and bowlers going for a toss(pun intended). However, very few teams, with the exception of the Indian run machine, have consistently and with ease scored over 250, leave alone reaching 300. Bowlers have had the last laugh on most occasions, assisted wonderfully by the batting powerplay. Probably, one could compare it to the mythological story of Bhasmasura, who got the power from Lord Shiva, to be able to reduce anyone to cinders by touching their head. He eventually ends up touching his own.
Great spin, with the retirement of Warne and Kumble and the half retirement of Muralitharan(he was on one leg against NZ anyway), seemed to be a dying art. But in this world cup, it has come back spectacularly. The fact that a team like SA, which boasts of Steyn and Morkel, considered its leg spinner a bigger weapon, proved how this world cup has revived the interest in spin bowling. Teams understand that cricket is about several aspects of the game and sheer fast bowling(Australia realized this at their own peril) or good batting cannot get you a cup.
The icing on the cake has been provided by Ireland. The reason I chose this to be the best thing to happen is because, cricket needs new teams and more competition. Rewind to 2003 when Kenya reached the semi-finals and there was a clamour for giving it test status. But Bangladesh had made a mess of its opportunity. 8 years later, it still doesn’t have the consistency to beat top test teams. But at least, it is competing hard in one dayers. Suddenly an associate team in Ireland, seems to be having the guts to punch the top teams. England were outbatted, Bangladesh almost out-bowled and Indians and SA almost lost their plot, until the late middle order came to their rescue.
The TRPs are back, channels are minting money from every second of ad-time (ICC too is minting coins for some extra change, pun intended once again) and suddenly ODIs seem to be as green as the outfields have been. Kudos to the 3 subcontinental nations(Wish Pakistan too was in it) for showing where the nerve center of cricket is in. The game which is known to be one of the rarest for having so many different formats, continues to enthrall.