All good things come to an end, eventually. And as we enter the Road to the World Cup Final, Shrikanth Laxminarayan looks at the Top 10 moments through the last 6 weeks that added that Extra Degree to talk about. Let’s relive the glories moments together before we head to Melbourne to watch the 2 hosts take on each other for the most prized trophy of the Cricketing Arena:
After a long summer ,with India not really having anything to show for and what seemed like a point of over fatigue for both the team and the fans, something big was needed to mobilize things and charge things up for the cup. With matches being screened at early morning time in India, the major viewership was also under threat(flashback 2007 WI). But the stage was set with an Indo-Pak clash and if one were to think that wasn’t reason enough to tune in, Star Sports just made sure that the world was talking about the match and the cup. The Mauka Ads, they spread faster than wild fire and created a buzz of a kind one hasn’t seen for a while. The series of ads that followed might not have matched the very first one, but the legacy of the first one and the expectation it had set, ensured there was a wait for the next one at the end of the match and an urge to tune in to the next. Well played Star Sports!
2. India Going 6-0 Against Pak
While the Mauka-Mauka Ads set the stage for the viewership, there were always going to be nervous jitters all around. After all it was INDIA vs PAKISTAN and it doesn’t get better than this. And it was a Sunday so yeah the world was watching. And it was supposed to be a battle of Indian batting against Pak bowling. But no one told the Indian bowlers that. And they tore through the Pak batting, and as one would have hoped, India won, a lot of nerves were calmed, a lot of blame games began in the Pak camp(read Shoaib Akthar) and the World Cup, for most Indian cricket fans, was NOW declared Open!
3. Kane Williamson’s Winning Six Against The Aussies
The eventual finalists, in their group stage clash, gave the fans what can be described as the closest tie of the tournament thus far. The NZ bowling tore through Australia and with the bat, they were cruising at one point and looked like they will shame the four time world champions. But Starc had other ideas and decided he was going to spice things up. And it all came down to 6 off 27 with 1 wicket In hand(oh and that is 27 overs!) and Williamson decided he is going to take his team home in style, with a big bang SIX!!! It helped them top the group, remain unbeaten till the final, and sent a message that they are looking to go all the way this time around. The subtle message that six conveyed though, which was quite evident in their semi final against SA, was that like their captain BMac, they are going to be aggressive, all the way. They certainly will need all that aggression and more in the finals. Of-course, lets not forget Kane, cause he certainly sent a message to a lot of IPL teams who decided he wasn’t worth more than 60L (good pick SRH)
4. Wahab’s Fiery Spell
The stage was set to decide which of the two arguably biggest rivals of India in cricket, face them in the semis. And as expected, the Pakistan batting had failed their bowlers. And Australia were pretty much going to cruise through. But one man had different ideas. Wahab Riaz. People will remember different aspects of the world cup. People will look back at the scores and say it was a comfortable victory. But no one who has seen the match, will be able to forget the fiery spell of Wahab. Shane Watson paying the price for some rough banter which had come in from Starc when Wahab was batting. And Wahab did not forget. And when he spew fire on the Australians, Watson in particular, the world watched stunned to see the mighty Australians cowering and hiding, trying to save themselves from this attack. They ducked, they moved sideways, a few missed edges, even a couple of dropped catches, they were living dangerously. They did win eventually, and the scores will never reflect the true tale, but people will remember Wahab and his fiery spell, at least Watson will.
5. The Vettori Catch
Where fielding is said to be a skill that disappears with age, and in an age where captains try to ‘hide’ their ageing heroes, Vettori took what many will describe as the catch of the tournament. And while technically 3rd man is a spot to hide them oldies, he sure made the world take note of his skill and dedication to the game and why he is one of most respected players in world cricket today. And as the 36 year old stood there, having just taken a blinder, white leather in hand, 10 other Black Caps sprinted from all across the ground to hug the man and celebrate the catch, and more importantly, celebrate the man for this amazing feat. You may have seen the catch before, but do check it out once more!
PS: It will be his last tournament and hope there is something good in store for him in the finals 😉
6. Dravid Sledging Hussain
The commentary through the tournament has missed some typical characters who polarize the listeners into fanatic lovers and unforgiving haters- Shastri and Siddhu Paaji to name a few. And while Shoaib Akthar did try to play that part, it was the sane ones who provided the entertainment. And for a change, it was not words from the abundant vocabulary of Harsha Bhogle. Instead, it was the ‘Nicest Man in World Cricket’-Rahul Dravid. Who would have expected him to be sledging someone. Nasser just had no response, much like England’s fortunes in the cup. This piece of commentary gold was certainly a highlight of the tournament.
7. Bangladesh Defeating England
The headline sums it up. And woeful would be quite apt to describe the performance of the English team through the tournament. They made the finals of the tri-series just before the tournament, and with that in mind, many would have pictured them in the top 4. But they just dug their own grave with a string of poor performances. But the difference between them making and not making the Top 8 was always going to be that one match. The young Asian side who wanted it as much, were in their way. And they dint win it. The better side did. And so the ones who brought the world the game and hosted the first two and one more of the editions held so far, are yet to lay hands on the most coveted prize in world cricket. Will the next edition being at home bring about a change in fortunes? Certainly sets the tone for the next quadrennial event.
8. They Exit, But Not As Chokers, But As Equals
The man in the above picture, he was left to tears. And he had every right to. For it was, yet again, a case of yet near yet so far. The Proteas had played a good brand of cricket. More so, for this man who lead the team from the front and on many an occasion single-handedly taking the team home. And to see it go off their grasp was always going to be difficult. And it was quite an emotional sight, seeing big grown men reduced to tears in the middle. Such is the emotion riding in the game which makes us remember how valued the prize is, and more so, how passionate these guys are about their cricket. Salute!
For a change, no video at the end. Let us see what Pratik Gosar had to say instead:
9. The Ones Who Won’t Be Around Next Time Around
As it has to be the case at every edition, this one too saw some prominent names who bid adieu to the Gentleman’s Game. They leave big shoes to fill in their respective sides but more so, One Day cricket will miss some of the finest display of skill as they leave after making a mark for decades at end.The post match interview at the end of second semi final did see some hints and possibly one other man, Captain Cool M S Dhoni, probably not being around for the next edition in England. With reference to the T20 World Cup next year in, wait for it, INDIA, and subtle hints at his age, this young
team India could be under a new captain (Kohli in good probability) with Dhoni who has already called it a day in tests, looking to hang up his boots for good in the ODI and T20 formats. Ganguly once said the legacy of a captain is not measured by what team he handled but by what team he leaves behind. By that measure, Dhoni certainly will be leaving behind a great legacy with a team that includes a strong opening pair, a talented middle, and a bowling attack that actually knows how to take wickets taking 70 wickets in 7 matches. Now that is some legacy.
10. God predicting the Semi Finalists and an England debacle
One doesn’t need convincing to make people believe why Sachin is revered as a God in India and many parts of the world. The experience of having played all around the world, more importantly in 6 World Cups, was evident when he was asked his opinion on the teams that he expects to perform well at the cup. And it was no real wonder, that HE got it BANG ON! Predicting the semi finalists accurately was good, but the right sizing of the England team and predicting a debacle just blew us over. The cherry on top was how spin would be good on the big grounds of Australia, golden words of wisdom. Hope some of the teams were listening and made some use of his wisdom. This was quite a highlight in this edition of the world cup and certainly deserved a big mention in our Top 10.
Hope you liked it. We leave you with the video of Sachin getting it right. Drop in your feedback in the comments. We will keep bringing you, that Extra Degree.
Shrikanth Laxminarayan (aka Sir Edwards aka Golyaaaa) is an avid sports enthusiast with a particular passion for cricket. He Bleeds Blue with his love for India and Mumbai Indians. A passout of VJTI and IIM Indore, he writes occasionally between his life in sales, with a love for the statistical analysis of the game