As the entire nation rejoiced in the celebration of the festival of colours, India beat West Indies in a thrilling contest. Although it was quite a see-saw, nail biting, heartbeat stopping, down to the wire game that could have really gone either way, the bottomline is that the Men in Blue have bagged one more victory.
Given the form of the Indian team before the World Cup, the #WontGiveItBack was really sounding more like a big joke than anything else. The team had lost badly to Australia in the test series and then displayed an abysmal performance in the tri-series with England and Australia in Australia.
The same motto is now the voice of the nation, as all of 1.2 billion souls bleed blue.
India has maintained its spot at the top of the points table through the tournament and has officially confirmed its spot in the knock out phase of the tournament. What’s more, they haven’t lost a single game! Fingers crossed, not jinxing it. Phew!
With this one firmly settled, at least for the time being, let’s throw some light on the other teams and quarter final prospects.
The four teams that have qualified are: New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. England failed to make the cut.
New Zealand, going strong since match number is sitting pretty at the top of the table and was the first team to book its spot in the quarter-finals. The Kiwis have been impressive and have not lost a single match. However, they are a little too dependent on Brendon McCullum when it comes to batting, and this is a cause of worry as we progress to the knock-out stage, for all matches are do or die.
Sri Lanka has also been playing well. They are a team to watch out for, as they have consistent performers, especially when it comes to batting. Players like Sangakkara and Jayawardene are perfect for pressure matches.
Australia, too, has maintained consistency. They have the added advantage of home pitches as well as home support. This side is full of match-winners and game changers, just waiting for the opportunity to present itself.
The real thing to look out for, is which of these two strong contenders will finish at the second spot, in order to avoid South Africa (possibly) in the quarters.
The fourth and final qualification spot in this pool, has been a real shocker, some may even call it an upset. Bangladesh has pulled off a surprise. By stunning England, not only did they win that particular match, but they also stole the quarter-final spot, knocking England out of the race.
As already mentioned, India has qualified for the quarter-finals and will finish as group toppers. It is the only team in this pool to have confirmed their place. In all likelihood, they will be facing Bangladesh in the quarter-finals.
South Africa should be able to qualify. Although they have the same points as Pakistan and Ireland, 6 apiece, they have played the tougher teams and should go on to win their remaining matches. Plus with class players like de Villiers, one person ca turn the game around and see the Proteas home.
Apart from this though, it is all a little unpredictable. For the last two spots, the upcoming matches are crucial. Pakistan, West Indies and Ireland are all in the fight.
Pakistan was in trouble, but they have improved their chances by stunning South Africa. What is more is that their form is an upward graph, the slope improving with every game. They may be peaking at just the right time.
West Indies are on just 4 points from their 5 games. They battle it out with Ireland. In their face-to-face encounter, Ireland got the better of the Indies, and by the looks of it, they may just knock out this side from the World Cup.
This will be one of the biggest upsets cricket has ever seen, and the chances of occurrence are high. At the same time, because of a certain Chris Gayle, I wouldn’t be writing out the West Indies.
The whole scenario is even more interesting because of the whole debate about inclusion of Associate teams in the 2019 World Cup. Because well, who even are the top 8?
The unfortunate news of their probable exclusion seems to have hit some of these nations hard, particularly Ireland. They have set foot in the tournament with all guns blazing. This team on a mission has some people to prove wrong and is leaving no opportunity missed. Personally, I really hope they make it because they have displayed excellent and in all honesty, truly deserve it.
As always, now it will be all upto luck on that particular day, but we can with all surety say, that the Indian team has lived up to the expectations of international cricket fans and exceeded those of Indians (mind you, expectations and not hopes).
With this momentum, though, we are going till the end, and winning that trophy. Here’s saying it like we mean it: #WontGiveItBack, because we won’t.