Each Team To Play 8 Practice Matches Before The World Cup

dhoni practice matches

He knows that the real deal is yet to begin

Shocked is it? Don’t be so…

So was that title just to make this one a sell-out? How i wish so…

So am i telling a lie? Not really…

Lets break the suspense now and head to the stark realities of life, sugar coated under the name of Round Robin.
The 1992 version was by far the most fair and square for it allowed each team to play the other, and on pure merit, were the top 4 competing in the semis, to play in the coveted finals. But wait, isn’t this the best way to determine whose the no.1 in the World? And as expected, this format was done away with by the ICC, right after, in the next Cup tie itself. But then some sense prevailed wherein we decided to introduce the Super 6s’ in 1999 edition to be continued in 2003 edition as well and extended to Super 8s in the 2007 edition. What this ensured that there was enough meat in each game, wherein Round Robin actually made sense and attracted viewers. Finally merit decided the winners and not purely “A Single Day’s Performance”. Come 2011 and we saw the re-insurgence of Quarter Finals. Not to take anything away from the Indian team or their merit, but we would all have loved to see them battle the Proteas once again having lost to them once. I am sure that would have ensured that South Africa does not become the only team that India has failed to ever beat in a World Cup tie.

Ireland defeating England in 2011 World Cup

Ireland defeating England in 2011 World Cup

Coming back to the present format and to tell you why it is more of a “Charity” format in the Round Robin while the World Cup would actually begin with the Quarter-Finals. The top 8 teams are more or less decided and there shouldn’t be more argument about it. Imagine, a team only needs 3 good games and bamm, they win the Cup. I know the fans of upsets will start their “Dharna” now and say, “This is pure blasphemy whatever your talking and how could you forget that Kenya entered the semis in 2003 while Bangladesh chucked us out in the 2007 format. Such upsets actually get you more involved and ensure no team can take things for granted and blah blah.” Now take a deep breath and just introspect on what you just said and thought. I am sure you would know that it is again one of those comfortable lies that we say to ourselves to ensure that the World is indeed a fair market and a one where perfect competition exists.

Coming back to my point of a team actually needing 3 good games to lift the cup, what it effectively means is that you could rather take the rest of the games a bit more lightly, to see which combinations work well for you, check your batting order and work with all permutations and combinations. The designated 2 “Official” practice matches and 6 “Unofficial” ones err Round Robin matches serve to do so. No wonder South Africa could afford the risk of taking De Kock in the squad knowing that he would comfortably miss the first 3 games (Now since he has recovered earlier than expected, he already appeared in their latest ODI). This also justifies why India were comfortable with risking Jaddu in the squad, comfortably knowing that he would miss most of the action in the Tri-Series and would enter the World Cup with little Match Practice. He will, in reality, have 8 practice games to come back to his full match fitness and form and then we are good to go. These are also reasons why Mahi is pretty relaxed about India’s dismal performance in the Tri-series and panic is still not visible in the Indian Dressing Room because they all know that the real practice matches haven’t even started. Those 8 games in the follow up to the Quarter-Finals would allow MSD to play with his best 11 and soon everything will be merry. The boys get the momentum at the right time and the fans are again happy. It is all about “Peaking at the Right Time” as far as this format is concerned. And if we go by the numbers, India have the second highest win percentage i.e 70% in World Cup knockouts only after Australia’s 71% while New Zealand have only 12.5% and South Africa 0%. The game is often played at a level much beyond the thought and imagination of us poor fans.

However, let me come to the sad part of this flawed format. Would we all agree that neither India nor Pakistan nor West Indies are presently best poised to challenge for the Cup? But do they have that single performer who could take the game away from the opposition in a blink viz. Kohli, Afridi and Gayle? Imagine one of these fire in each of the quarters and we could have one of these 3 teams playing the finals. Would it be fair to the likes of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, the present Favourites/Dark Horses, that only one of them would then appear in the finals? You know the answer for me to say it outright but all I would pray for is “May the Best Team Win.”

3 Comments

  1. Awesome Articles Gosar….Makes Perfect Sense…Hope India does well int hose 3 matches n lifts the cup again 🙂

  2. Absolutely Perfect…I thought this was for Ausi or NZ or SA… :p

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