Wednesday, March 07, 2007

World Cup

The World Cup is round the corner, and I peg no chance on India this time round. Frankly, they have never been in reckoning in any of the World Cups but they have managed to pleasantly surprise in most of them.

I would love to be presently surprised this time too, but then it would be surprises too many.

I have previously written about the two India Pakistan matches which have been my personal favourites. Incidentally one of them is from 1992 World Cup in Australia. Not sure why, but even as the World Cups as a whole, I have the fondest memories of this one.

And in this post, I am going to talk about my other favourite match in the same World Cup.

One big reason for liking that particular World Cup could be that it was played in the thick of my class X board exams, so though the fun of the tournament was slightly diluted, but the tension of the-first-board-exams got tremendously relaxed.

This World Cup was slightly different than others, with a lot of new things in it - both from organizer's and participant's side. Firstly, it was played in a Round Robin League manner without any pools. That was fun. Next the dreaded Rain shorten rule came into the play. According to rule, it would delete only those overs which had least runs. Side batting second was always in disadvantage. That was not fun.

Then there was coloured clothing and two white balls for the first time, and so was the only two-men-outside-for-the-first-fifteen-over rule.

Last rule gave birth to a new terminology in Cricket, courtesy dashing Kiwi Captain Martin Crowe - the Pinch Hitter. He always was a master strategist and introduction of Mark Greatbatch as the Pinch Hitter, who earlier use to play down the order, was
hugely successful for his team. So was making miserly off spinner Deepak Patel open the bowling, which took most by surprise.

We had our own original pinch hitter in Krishnamachari Srikkanth but (a) he was failing miserably, and (b) Ravi Shastri was diluting his effect from the other side. Gavaskar been gone five years back, and we hadn't still solve the opening problem. Chronic disease, it seems. Desperation was so overwhelming that even Kapil Dev unsuccessfully opened in a match against Zimbabwe!

England tried Ian Botham as the pinch hitting opener with mixed effect, but with his slow swing bowling he created enough trouble for our little master.

South Africa played for the first time, and reached Semi Finals. An airbourne Jhonty Rhodes running out Inzemam became picture perfect for the newspapers and a new dimension called fielding was added in Cricket which could actually win matches apart from bowling and batting.

Rain and Rain rule created a lot of tense situations. First, rain helped Pakistan to reach semifinals. Without Imran Khan, they were all out against England for just 74. England were cruising when rain forced the match to be abandoned. Later Pakistan beat the same side in final to win the World Cup. I still cannot forget that beauty by Wasim Akram that took Chris Lewis' stumps.

South Africa was perhaps laid low by the rain rule in the semifinals against England. They needed some 22 runs of 13 balls, which it self was looking difficult to achieve, and suddenly it drizzled for a while, and the revised target was 21 runs from 1 ball. This was damn too difficult. Dave Richardson and Brian McMillan were inconsolable.

India was both beneficiary and aggrieved party. It lost out to Australia due to this rule in the match I am going to talk about, while it was saved from a shameful defeat against minnows Zimbabwe. Also, India's a sure-win match against Srilanka was washed out in rain.

Zimbabwe however did create an upset when they dispatched England in a low scorer but, England were safe to semifinals by then. Former almost did in Srilanka too by scoring 312, but latter successfully managed a record breaking chase.

Pakistan were benefited not only by rains, but also by the unsporting largesse bestowed upon them by NewZealand. Inorder to avoid going to Australia for playing semifinal, it was believed that they deliberately lost Pakistan in league match. This defeat also nullified the chance of Australia reaching semifinals even though they defeated WestIndies a few hours later. It also snuffed out WestIndies' chances to reach semifinals had they beaten Australia.

See the complications of a round robin league tourney.

Pakistan met the same opposition in semifinal(NewZealand), and this time it was not the case of lady luck for Pakistan. From then, it was the simple genius of Imran Khan till the finals. For the first time Imran Khan must have played one down as a sheet anchor and utilized Inzemam to the best effect in the slog overs. Very traditional Oneday Cricket. NewZealand and England were shocked, and Pakistan was the unlikely champion. Chymes of Allah-Hoo in the dressing room later were nauseating, though.

Gosh! Already such a long post! I will post about the match in next post. Sorry!

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