2011 Cricket World Cup: Let’s play
As the cricket World Cup draws closer, the pulse rate of the players and their fans from the 14 participating nations is surely rising.
The build up to the quadrennial event, the equivalent of the FIFA soccer world cup, has been nothing short of spectacular. Despite the game grappling with a spot-fixing saga and an under-prepared Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata losing the hosts a marquee match against England, the enthusiasm of having a “good game” seems to have taken over. Like the previous editions, the 10th ICC world cup will also see some of the great cricketers saying “Goodbye” to the gentleman’s game and all of them would want to lay their hands on the coveted trophy.
Fans will be seeing Ricky Ponting, Muthaiah Muralitharan, Sachin Tendulkar and probably Jacques Kallis for the last time at a world cup but it will be Sachin, who will want to etch his name on the winners’ trophy more than anyone else. The master blaster has achieved almost everything that is there to achieve in the game of cricket but the world cup has remained elusive.
There will surely be new heroes found for their respective nations and new stars will appear on the horizon. But there are already some who I will be keenly watching during the 45 day event. From India, the most exciting youngster to emerge since the master blaster has been Virat Kohli. In the limited opportunities he has got, Kohli has proved that he is the man for the future.
Colin Ingram from South Africa will be another young lad to watch alongside Ahmad Shehzad, Umar Akmal (from Pakistan), Darren Bravo from the West Indies and Angelo Mathews from Sri Lanka.
In the bowling department, spinners will hold the key on the slower and turning tracks of the subcontinent. It might not be the run feast that is anticipated on the pitches in this part of the world but batting should be easier if the batsmen are willing to grind.
This is perhaps the first world cup where no team is a clear favourite. I, for one, would not bet all my money on one horse. If India is the favourite to lift the cup for second time, South Africa is not too far. England after their Ashes victory have gained momentum.
With Pakistan-born leggie Imran Tahir, South Africa might have finally got the weapon that has been missing from their armour over the years. England should do well at this world cup as they have one of the most balanced units with the tail that might seem long but can dig in on an odd occasion. Sri Lanka, the co-host along with India and Bangladesh, are exactly in the same mould as the English.
One can never rule out Australia. They sneaked into the Super Six stage in 1999 by the skin of their teeth, on a better net run rate than the West Indies and New Zealand. Thereon, the side led by mercurial Steve Waugh turned the heat on and won (or infamously tied) all the following five matches including the title game against Pakistan.
Then there are the enigmatic Pakistan. Their only triumph, 1992 World Cup, came when they were written off and needed a favourable result from the Aussie-Windies tie to progress to the semis. The green shirts have enough firepower in batting to decimate any attack but are also capable of imploding against pedestrian bowling. Their bowling department can’t be any different as it has never been about skills but application that decides the outcome of the game they are playing.
Among the minnows, Bangladesh, playing on the home soil, will be dangerous but Ireland seem to be the most-likely to cause some red faces over the next 45 days.
The logo for 2011 cricket world cup is in the shape of a colourful cricket ball with people in action. It represents the game itself and the people in action with hands up, cheering and shouting. Lets Play!