This was the World Cup everybody hoped for after the debacle in 2007. With India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka reaching the last four, and an Indian victory, the ICC could not have asked for a better script. This World Cup will also be remembered for a dream of a billion people getting fulfilled, and Sachin Tendulkar getting this one final jewel in his bag of crowns, which was no secret. India won the World Cup after 28 years, putting Dhoni right among the top when it comes to captaincy greats.
This World Cup will also be known for some extraordinary and unexpected performances from few players, like how Pakistan rallied behind Shahid Afridi the bowler to surprise many and reaching the semis, or how Yuvraj marked his comeback with superb all round performance which won him four man of match and the man of the series award. It was also marked by the clear end of Australian dominance in ODI cricket. England proved the most entertaining team of the tournament, losing to Ireland and then winning against South Africa, who in-fact, did a deja-vu by confirming their ‘chokers’ tag by losing to New Zealand in the quarters.
Indian team after the victory
How my predictions fared?
I predicted India and Australia as favorites before the World Cup and India took home the trophy. However, my other predictions were not upto the mark and you can see below how they fared –
- Most sixes in single over – I predicted two overs where all balls will be hit for sixes but this World Cup did not produce even a single such over.
- Most sixes in an innings by a team – New Zealand hit 13 sixes in the game against Pakistan while I predicted 25.. Did the bowlers bowl too well?
- Most sixes in an innings by a player – Ross Taylor hit 7 sixes in the above said game, while I predicted 10.
- Most sixes by a player in tournament – Ross Taylor hit 14 sixes, the highest in the tournament while my prediction stood at 25
- Fastest Fifty – 23 balls by Kieron Pollard v Netherlands, very close to my prediction of 20 balls
- Fastest Century – 50 balls by Kevin O Brien of Ireland v England. This was one hell of a knock which shook England and bettered my prediction of 65 balls.
- Highest total – 370/4 by India in the first match against Bangladesh was the highest total, and no team managing to get more than 400 as I predicted. The associate teams seems to have improved.
- Highest Individual Score – 175 by Sehwag, again in the first game itself and the 200* by God still remain the highest score in an ODI.
- Hat Tricks – Here I was right on the target with Lasith Malinga and Kemar Roach providing the two instances of hat-tricks in this world cup.
- Most Wickets – Afridi and Zaheer Khan took 21 wickets each while I predicted 22-25 wickets. Afridi came from no-where and proved to be the best and most intelligent bowler on the subcontinent pitches.
- Most Runs – Dilshan emerged the top scored with 500 runs with Sachin following behind with 482 runs. My prediction of 650 runs was way off the mark here.
- Strike Rates with runs over 300 – Again as I predicted, Sehwag made 380 runs at a strike rate of 122 to emerge the player with the highest strike rate with more than 300 runs.
Other notable stats
Apart from the above predictions, there were some other important statistics which need a mention. They are :-
- Highest run rate in any World Cup – This World Cup saw the average run rate of 5.03, which was the first time it has crossed 5 in all World Cup history.
- Highest number of centuries – This World Cup saw 24 centuries which was the highest ever in any World Cup, surpassing the 21 in the 2003 World Cup.
- Yuvraj Singh scored 362 runs and took 15 wickets, grabbing four man of the match awards, only the third player after Arvinda De Silva and Lance Klusener to do so. He was only the fourth player and second Indian after Kapil Dev to achieve the doulbe of 300 runs and ten wickets in a single WC.
People came out on the roads to celebrate
Overall, it was a world cup where spinners came into their own. They opened the bowling attacks quite regularly with every team, and also featured among the major wicket takers. All that can attributed to the slow pitches of the subcontinent aided by the fact that this was the end of a season. Pakistan and South Africa were the best bowling units in the World Cup, and India and Sri Lanka the best batting units. In the end, it was cricket that won and that is what matters.
India has played two matches so far in this World Cup and in both these matches, Sachin and Sehwag has opened the innings with Gambhir at number three. Kohli and Yuvraj make the middle order at four and five followed by Dhoni and Pathan at six and seven. This batting lineup leaves no room for Raina. I feel that only two of our three openers- Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir should play in any match. Here are 3 reasons India should do so –
Sehwag and Gambhir opened for Delhi too
1. Adequate rest – All three players, Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir have been plagued by injuries and fitness issues coming up into the World Cup and playing only two of them in any single match will give adequate rest to all of them. It will be very critical going into the knockout stage of the tournament that all three of them are fully fit and rested.
2. Team Balance – Just as you can’t play 11 Sachins in one team even if he is the best, a team needs to have only two openers to maintain team balance. No doubt all these players are good enough to play in any position, but that leaves Kohli at number 4 and leaves no place for Raina. Kohli has shown tremendous maturity batting in the last year and he needs to bat in the middle of the innings for that, not at the end of it which normally happens if all three openers play. At the end of the innings, Raina could be very destructive but playing all three openers means he can’t find a place in the team. So playing only two of them will give Kohli and Raina their comfortable spots in the team rather than Kohli coming to bat in at number 7 as he did yesterday.
3. Enough exposure to all – Indian top order has failed only 5 times in the last 32 matches which means Yuvraj, Pathan, Dhoni and Raina have very little time in the middle. Playing only two of the openers will give more chance and opportunity for the Indian lower middle order to get some match practice. When we face a tough opposition or when the top order fails, we want the middle order to be prepared to take on the challenge rather than being sitting ducks due to lack of time in the middle.
Sachin and Sehwag have demolished many attacks
Due to the above reasons, it will be best for India going ahead into the knock-out stage of the World Cup that all players are rested enough, fit enough, and have got enough time in the middle to be ready for their chance when it comes. The same also holds true for our bowlers, rotation will be the key to ensure Zaheer, Nehra, Sreesanth and Chawla are fit and confident whenever they are required.
The Wall / Mr Dependable
UnderApplauded… Is that even a word? Even if it is not, I have coined it now, and its suits perfectly for someone who is also known as “The Wall”, Rahul Dravid!! Now let me explain why I say so… BECAUSE —
- He is the player who has faced ball after ball over the last 14 years with levels of concentration not many can match. You need to see him sweat during a match to understand his concentration levels. Right in the beginning of his career, he batted 541 minutes in the first innings of this match and followed it with another knock in second innings while the rest struggled to put bat to ball.
- He is the player who have been criticized by viewers and critics everytime he has got out cheaply but he has never used his mouth to answer them. Neither does he need to, as his bat is enough. Not many people have hit centuries in both innings of a test match, and he has done it twice. (vs Pakistan and New Zealand) Only Gavaskar has done it thrice.
- He is the player who has stood alone on bouncing tracks alone while all his distinguished mates have struggled and got out. Still he is never acknowledged for the numerous matches he has won and SAVED India. I can never forget the second innings of this match where his 27 not out is not less than a century (on that wicket). Or see this match at the Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica where he stood as a rock in both innings and made sure India won a series (first overseas series victory in 20 years) in West Indies. A match-winning captain’s hand in the second-innings of a historic away-series deciding Test on a minefield. Now beat that!!
- In many pitches that appeared to have landmines buried on a good length, Rahul Dravid has waged a war. Ducking, weaving, blocking, watching partners come and go, jabbing, leaving, ducking, weaving… Not many have batted for more than 600 minutes (like here when he scored a double when all others struggled to get even a fifty.
- He is the player who has formed the platform around which many big names have hit knocks of a lifetime. May it be Sehwag’s triple century , or Laxman’s 280, or during many of Sachin’s tons, he was the player at the other end. Cricket is a game of partnerships, and he has shared 19 century partnerships with Sachin (a world record), 11 with Laxman, 10 with Ganguly and 10 with Sehwag. If you compare the accolades all of these players have got and compare it to Dravid’s, you will know why I call him the most UnderApplauded batsman..
World Record century partnerships between Sachin & Dravid
- He is perhaps the only player who averages more abroad than at home (55 to 50), yet he is never credited for the numerous matches India have started winning abroad over the last 15 years. Ask any bowler and he will name Dravid in the top 3 of “most difficult to dismiss” players, and yet he is the first to be dismissed by the viewers and critics!!
- He is the only player left who is a classical batsman. Perhaps the most complete batsman playing the game today, and perhaps the last. He is the person who you would want to watch if you need a definition of batting. Yet he is measured by his strike rate more than the runs his partners have scored in his company.
- He is the player who has totally transformed his game for one-day cricket and T20 cricket, yet he is pulled by critics for playing slow. Ask his teammates what freedom and confidence they have in playing their shots just knowing that Rahul Dravid is standing at the other end! He has kept wickets in ODIs to maintain the team balance, been the vice-captain of the team at the same time, scored runs consistently and yet never have expressed himself or demanded any attention. Without anybody noticing, he has amassed more than 10,000 runs in ODIs too.
His shots define how they should be played
- While many people still believe he was never suited for ODI’s, he has 11 century partnerships with each of Sachin and Ganguly. Then why do we regard Sachin and Ganguly as the best one day players ever to play for India, and totally forget Dravid’s contribution in that.
- If Ganguly, Sachin, Sehwag and Laxman have a natural talent and genius, Dravid has compensated for it with sheer hard work and levels of concentration that are almost yogic. Not many can bat for 835 minutes (its not a typo) like he did in this epic match in Adelaide, or when he batted for 12 hours for his 270 in this match. Not to mention the Adelaide victory was the first for India in a generation and the Pakistan series ended up being India’s first ever series win there.