As we entered the knockout stage of the Cricket World Cup, the excitement increased by a few notches and reached its peak.
Last week we witnessed the thrilling quarterfinals. They were extremely entertaining and maybe just a little predictable? In all the matches, the better-positioned team (according to ranks in the group stage) was the one that emerged victorious. The semi-final teams are all the league toppers and runner-ups.
In case you missed it due to the could-not-have-been-more-precise timing clash between the match hours and office hours, I’m sure you caught the highlights. But if in the hectic week you were caught up in assignments and projects and didn’t get time for that too, here is a jist:
Quarterfinal 1: South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 18th March, Sydney
On paper, this was perhaps the most exciting match up; but on the 22 yards, it turned out to be completely one-sided. The formidable Lankan batting line-up crumbled and they all took that long walk back to the pavilion at very short intervals. They put up a sub-par total of 133 runs on the board.
The Proteas had a simple task cut out and the scope of making a mess out of it was minimal. They did not live up to their “choker” reputation and easily reached their target, in just 18 overs, winning by nine wickets and earning their well-deserved spot in the top four.
Quarterfinal 2: India vs Bangladesh, 19th March, Melbourne
Given India’s momentum, they were the clear favourites for this one. But since Bangladesh reached this stage against all odds, they could have also caused a big upset, against all odds. But lucky for us, they did not.
Although they gave the Men in Blue some trouble in the initial overs of the game and “struggled” would be an understatement to describe the state of the top order, eventually the batsmen pulled through posting a 300 plus target; very high given the size of the MCG. Full marks 10/10 to the Indian bowlers once again as they saw their team home. India eased to a win and stormed into the semi-finals.
Quarterfinal 3: Australia vs Pakistan, 20th March, Adelaide
This was an interesting match up because Australia had the all-important home team advantage and Pakistan had the all-important momentum advantage. So the big question was: which is more important? Well in all honestly, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is how you perform on that particular day.
In this match, the home team played bad hosts and got the better of their opponents. The Australian bowlers were quite impressive and 213 was always going to be too easy to chase for the power-hitters packed Aussie side. With a comfortable chase, they secured their semi-final spot with a comfortable victory.
Quarterfinal 4: New Zealand vs West Indies, 21st March, Wellington
All eyes were on Gayle. No wait, they were meant to be. But they actually ended up being on Martin Guptill, who made an unbeaten 237. A mammoth target of 393 having been set up by the Kiwis, it was all up to one man: Chris Gayle. Realistically though, two double centuries in one match (and that too a World Cup knock-out) a little unlikely, don’t you think?
Although Gayle got off to a good start, the party ended pretty quickly for him and with his dismissal, it began for the Kiwis. The West Indies together barely managed to score as many runs as Guptill did alone. New Zealand too, played the bad hosts and sealed the last semi-final spot.
With these done and dusted, the semi-finals are this week!
Semifinal 1: New Zealand vs South Africa, 24th March, Auckland
Semifinal 2: India vs Australia, 26th March, Sydney
And well unfortunately, they’re scheduled on weekdays, again. But no worries, because by this time, you should have your priorities sorted!
To do list: postpone all your meetings, call in sick or whatever you have to do, but figure out a way to make sure you catch these matches live because well these ones promise to be insane and should not be missed for the world! And well especially in a country where cricket is a religion, we absolutely have to celebrate the biggest festival!
Not suggesting a nationwide strike, but you get the point. I mean you go to work everyday, but this is once in four years, right?! I think that’s sorted then; grab the Mauka!