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Stats: Hosts find semis tougher than finals at big events

team india
Will India defeat West Indies and make it to the finals?
Modified 31 Mar 2016, 14:58 IST

India 'Kohli'fied (qualified) for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup 2016 with a lot of stutters, struggles and literally came back from the dead more than once (vs Bangladesh specially). It now almost seems that destiny and one Virat Kohli have decided not to give up on India, the host nation. 

Come the semifinals, it's anybody's game and although India (minus Kohli) haven't convinced anyone, the hosts feel they have the edge. India will have a wild crowd support, the pitch, conditions, banners, loudspeakers, support staff, hotel staff, diet and just about everything else going for them. That their semifinal opponent (West Indies) recently lost to qualifiers Afghanistan, further strengthens India's odds.

Historically, however, hosts have had poor record during semifinals of big events, irrespective of opposition’s stature. I use the data of last 36 years (since 1980) to prove this. If anything, in team sports, hosts find it much easier in finals than in semis.

Hosts at Cricket World Cup semis

Since 1983, at Cricket World Cups, hosts have qualified for semifinals in 1983 (England), 1987 (India & Pakistan), 1992 (Co-hosts New Zealand), 1996 (Co-hosts India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan), 2011 (Co-hosts India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and 2015 (Co-hosts Australia & New Zealand).

Out of 11 hosts who qualified, only India in 2011 & Australia in 2015 went on to lift the coveted trophy on home soil. Sri Lanka lifted the trophy in 1996, but that was at Lahore, away from home. However as many as five teams lost the semi-finals in front of home crowds - England in 1983, India & Pakistan in 1987, India again in 1996 and New Zealand in 1992.

Pakistan's semifinal loss in 2011 at Mohali can't be counted as it was away from home. Which means in ODI cricket world cups, 46% of the time, hosts have been knocked out in semi-finals, despite home support. The other data which stands out is that host team have never lost an ODI Cricket World Cup final at home ground.

This, though, changes in ICC Champions Trophy ODI cricket events. The only two times when the hosts qualified for knockouts, England on both occasions in 2004 & 2013, they lost out in the finals. Sri Lanka also lost out in T20 WC 2012 finals, the first time a host nation made to the semifinals stage of the World T20.

Hosts at Football World Cup semis

germany vs brazil
Germany trounced Brazil 7-1 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final 

If cricket's shortest format (T20) matches any sport for its unpredictability, it's football. The data in football over the last 36 years is very interesting. The reason I compare cricket with football is that the craze, crowd backing, and home pressure - which India are likely to witness on Thursday (semifinal day) - can only be equated with the most popular sport on earth.

Except France winning on home soil in 1998, since 1980, no other host has won football World Cup at home, nor lost a final. Hosts, Italy lost out in semifinals in 1990, South Korea in 2002, Germany in 2006 and Brazil in 2014. So out of five hosts who went up to semifinals stage of FIFA World Cup since 1982, only one (20%) went on to win the cup. Four other teams (80%) lost out in semifinals stage.

Hosts at continental nations event semis


Portugal's loss in Euro Nations 2004 finals is probably the only instance a favourite host nation lost a final match in football's recent history,  Since 1980, France are the only host to win the Euro nations (in 1984), whereas on four occasions (67%), the hosts lost out painfully at home during semifinal stage - Italy in 1980, West Germany in 1988, England in 1996 and Holland in 2000.

In Copa America football tournaments, there is only one instance of a host nation losing out in finals - unfancied Bolivia in 1997. That aside, since 1980, host nations have won the event four times (50%)  - Brazil 1989, Uruguay 1995, Colombia 2001 and Chile 2015. And three occasions (37%) when the hosts got knocked out in semifinals in front of home crowd - Argentina in 1987, Ecuador in 1993 and Chile 2001.

The above data is a fair indicator that in high pressure, in popular team sports like football and cricket, there is 50% chance of hosts getting knocked out in semifinals, despite all local conditions and support, irrespective of opposition stature. However if the host team makes it to finals of the event, the chances of winning the final are a significant 67% and losing just 33%.

All the best India for their semifinals. They need all the luck!

Published 29 Mar 2016, 16:21 IST
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