Monday, June 24, 2019

World Cup 2019: The “Not Boring" Middle Overs

Once upon a time, not too long ago, ODI cricket was stagnating. At least the ICC thought so. Especially the so called “boring” middle overs. So, ICC kept tinkering with the format for years. Extra powerplay, mandatory ball changes, powerplay at the time of choosing, two balls, field restrictions changes etc. They also came up with T20 which did away with these “boring” middle overs altogether!

So here we are in the middle of the league stage. And this one has certainly not been boring. The rain has stayed away (mostly), there have been close games (a bunch of them) and even an upset! Another game could have gone in a different direction altogether if the last shot had been hit a fraction of a second later or before or with just a little more power. And in the most shocking turn of events, the bails have started falling off, when earlier they had stubbornly stayed put!

Afghanistan & South Africa are the first two teams to be knocked out of the competition. It’s been a disappointing run for both. Being out of contention they can turn up and play spoilsport for the others in the race for the Top 4.

India nearly got a shock against Afghanistan. New Zealand were almost stunned by West Indies. Bangladesh made a hearty chase of Australia’s 383. And England find themselves with the task having to win against the Top 3 after being tripped up by Malinga and company. 

Meanwhile Pakistan are playing in a different World Cup altogether. It seems that there are two different Pakistani teams which turn up for the game. Depending on which side has turned up the results can be (a) hammering England/ South Africa, or (b) getting thumped by India/West Indies. They do not even need a personnel change. But we never know which version has turned up till the game ends.

Race for Top 4: Getting slightly heated up with England losing to Sri Lanka. Australia, New Zealand and India should make it through. While England have to face all three in their remaining games. Sri Lanka & Pakistan are still with a good chance while Bangladesh & West Indies must wait for permutations and combinations to come up in their favour. If only, Carlos Brathwaite had managed to hit that six, the table would have been even more interesting!

The “middle overs” have certainly not been a boring one!

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