World Cup 2019: The story so far
The 12th edition of cricket’s biggest extravaganza - World Cup 2019 - has been a roller-coaster ride so far. This is the first time since 1992 that the ICC has adopted the round-robin format, allowing every team to compete against each other at least once. The quadrennial event, in addition to being the most anticipated cricket contest of the year, has also been declared the ‘wettest’ yet in World Cup history.
Four games in the league stage have already been washed out and a threat is looming for the rest of the matches too. Rain has had a detrimental impact on the prestigious tournament, bringing in a sense of disappointment among fans and organizers.
There have been a fair share of controversies too, the most talked-about of which included ICC asking MS Dhoni to change his wicketkeeping gloves bearing army insignia and Michael Holding’s conflict with the organizers on criticism of the umpiring standards. But the 50-over feast has not failed to live up to the expectations, with fans flocking to the stadiums in large numbers to support their teams and cricketing icons.
Success stories and failures
We are half-way through the tournament where 24 matches have been played. It has been a mixed bag so far with a few one-sided affairs and no thrilling last-over finishes for the cricketing fraternity to cherish. Batting sides collapsing without giving a fight have also been a worrying sight, leading to questions about the quality of cricket being played. At the same time, there have also been some record-shattering performances.
Shakib Al Hasan is in the form of his life, and the dynamic all-rounder is leaving no stone unturned to take Bangladesh to glory. He is not only the leading run scorer of the tournament so far with two scintillating centuries, but has also managed to pick 5 crucial wickets for his side.
Eoin Morgan came out all guns blazing against Afghanistan and played a destructive knock of 148 while hitting 17 sixes and eventually breaking the record for most sixes hit in an ODI.
The unpredictability of performance
The league table is getting tighter with every match, and it will be premature to pick the semi-finalists at this stage. While New Zealand and India are still unbeaten and look fairly comfortable, the hosts and tournament favorites England hold the top position having lost the solitary game against Pakistan, which could arguably be called the biggest upset so far.
While Pakistan registered their second lowest total in World Cup history against the West Indies at Trent Bridge, they redeemed themselves in the most remarkable manner by scoring their second highest total in World Cup history against England at the very same ground.
Mohammed Amir has been a shining light for Pakistan, having picked 13 wickets. He is the joint leading wicket taker of the tournament so far along with Australia's Mitchell Starc.
South Africa have had a rather dismal campaign until now and they could easily be called the biggest disappointment of this World Cup. The batsmen seem to be struggling to find their focus while the bowlers are dealing with an injury crisis.
Sri Lanka and West Indies have also found themselves in a similar situation, languishing in the bottom half of the league table. It will be interesting to see if they can regroup quickly and give themselves a chance to steal a spot in the top four.
Australia have managed to put aside their horrific past year behind to emerge as a force to reckon with. Aaron Finch played an incredible innings of 153 against Sri Lanka and is looking focused as ever. David Warner and Steve Smith have made stupendous comebacks to international cricket after the infamous sandpaper scandal and have contributed significantly to the team’s surge.
The deeds of their past came to haunt them when Indian fans unceremoniously booed Smith during the India-Australia encounter. But it was Virat Kohli’s gesture that stole everybody’s heart. He not only asked the fans to appreciate the former Aussie skipper but also made him comfortable on the field.
In addition to Rohit Sharma’s batting heroics, the Indian skipper’s gestures of sportsmanship have been a major highlight of the tournament so far.
A promising second half
The World Cup has also been marred by injuries, prompting teams to make last-minute adjustments to their team balance and composition. The level of competition is only going to increase going ahead in the tournament and it will be worth seeing how the teams deal with the injury aspect.
The second half of the league stage promises to be a cracker, with some high-voltage contests lined up. England will take on Australia and India and both games are expected to be nail-biting contests.
Emotions and intensity will be high as the tournament progresses to the knock-out stage. The World Cup hasn’t been short of entertainment, and it is set to continue in the same vein over the coming weeks.
Also read – Highest total chased in world cup