Cricket is more than just a sport in India. It’s a religion. It’s a way of life. Cricketers are revered like Gods and every victory is celebrated like a festival. Hockey and football are also popular sports in the subcontinent but none of them enjoy the status and respect that cricket commands from millions of Indians. In every gully, field, park and residential complex, children seem to be overawed by cricket. Big match days automatically mean that nobody will be working constructively as all cricket buffs will be glued to the idiot box. Why are we all so crazy about the sport? Is it the history of the game and its imperial roots? Is it one man who defined its fate in India?
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. In a country of over a billion people with so many disparities, this legend of a man has been a source of pride and joy to all of us. Fondly referred to as the ‘God of cricket’, Tendulkar will always be one of the greatest batsmen of all time. For most of us cricket fans, he’s one of the primary reasons that we all got hooked to the sport. Cricket is one sport that unites people from all other religions in a country as diverse as India. This is that one time when the whole country forgets all their differences and supports our national team. The best thing about this game is that there is no gender discrimination. Men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, young boys and girls are all as kicked to watch a cricket match especially if it’s one from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Will Virat Kohli’s consistency trump Dale Steyn’s supersonic delivery? Will the innovative AB De Villiers pull a fast one over the world’s tallest cricketer Mohamad Irfan? Will seasoned veterans like Shahid Afridi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni bid farewell to World Cup cricket with that one last triumph? These are questions that hog the minds of cricket fans around the world and that’s why this month’s cover story aims to prepare you for the magnificent spectacle that is the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2015
While most youngsters across the globe will be racking their brains over how to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their beloved, real cricket fans will be preparing
themselves for the magnificent ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Manil S Dodani is one such true-blue cricket buff who just can’t seem to wait for this mega event! This section of our cover story aims to discern the David’s from the Goliath’s and give you a low down on team strengths, weaknesses, marquee players and perhaps some dressing room conversation.
ENGLAND, AUSTRALIA, SRI LANKA, BANGLADESH, NEW ZEALAND, AFGHANISTAN, SCOTLAND
SOUTH AFRICA, INDIA, PAKISTAN, WEST INDIES, ZIMBABWE, IRELAND, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The land that invented cricket has yet to win its first World Cup Title, ironically. Over the years, England has displayed some fine cricket that got them to the runners up podium in 1979, 1987 and 1992. What keeps this team in the limelight is the great England-Australia rivalry. Taking a step back in time helps decode what really concocted this rivalry; well, it was The Ashes. The Ashes bring together two nations who are connoisseurs of the fiercest rivalry in cricket history. A sight to see is the travelling ‘Barmy Army’ a.k.a England’s unofficial 12th man, showcasing some strong vocal support with slogans and songs alike. Watch out for Moeen Ali’s all round performance; being a top order batsman capable of playing spinners well, not to forget his lethal ‘sliders’ that can acid test even the most experienced batsmen.
One of the most promising teams in the tournament, yet another one of the teams who haven’t lifted the Cup just yet. With an impressive line-up of players, South Africa promises to be a heady dose of cricket and entertainment. We’d miss good ol’ Robin Peterson and Ryan McLaren from South Africa’s top order. AB De Villiers dons the captain’s cap and assuredly wearing the gloves full time, a world renowned wicket-keeper and batsman, hope is never lost as long as AB is on the white line. David Miller will surely pack a brutal punch! Fast bowler Dale Steyn, with his speed comparable to a Lamborghini on steroids, will surely aid South Africa in its bowling attack.
“India! India!”, that familiar cheer brings to mind Kapil Dev’s historic innings in 1983, and in recent times, in 2011, when India was crowned champions at home in Mumbai. Defending champions in this Tournament, they invariably have the bull’s eye on their back! Meeting the expectations of a billion people isn’t going to be easy. With a power packed 15-man squad, handpicked by Indian selectors, this season is going to give Yuvraj Singh a miss for Jaddu a.k.a Ravindra Jadeja. One can’t talk about India and our chances this World Cup without mentioning the tempestuous young lad named Virat Kohli. He has has earned him a rock solid reputation and of course that comes with some serious performance pressure. It’s a real shame that he can’t stay with his lady luck Anushka Sharma. All of us Indian fans (and Anushka fans) empathize with you, Virat! But, don’t you worry child, she’s going to give you enough Jazba from the stands. MS Dhoni will lead India again this year, balancing the team’s enthusiasm and skill sets (not to mention Jaddu’s ego). Previously injured Ravindra Jadeja is back in action, known for his impeccable fielding, this guy can engender a match triumphant, with his electric bolt like batting.
Four time World Cup title holders (more than any team in the world), Australia are like a pride of lions dressed in yellow. An entire squad filled with big hitting all-rounders, the team isn’t going to be easy on anyone. A clash with England is certain and almost predictable. This squad has practically all the big names of the cricketing universe associated with them – Shane Watson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner just to name a few; coupled with high pace attacker Xavier Doherty, known for his spinning abilities is also on the squad this year. Playing at home this time around, guarantees a highly boosted morale for the players and of course, for Australia.
With the nation blessed by the Pope’s recent visit, Sri Lanka gears up for yet another World Cup Tournament. Having tasted success last in 1996, India’s neighbours have a rather senior team this time. Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan have been in absolutely scintillating form. The team is playing the stakes with Lasith Malinga, who owing to fitness levels, may or may not play this season. In his absence Nuwan Kulasekara will have to rise to the occasion and run the frontal pace attack. The magic wand however for Sri Lanka is none other than Kumar Sangakkara. Showcasing a super impressive batting record, Kumar knows how to set the score meters running. To add to this, being the keeper enables him to decipher opponent tactics and use this spontaneity on field. If he doesn’t play this year, Malinga’s ‘slingas’ are sure going to be missed! But, we can all only hope that he returns to fitness in time to bedazzle us in this World Cup.
The last time they played in Australia and New he last time they played in Australia and New Zealand, they took the Cup back home. Pakistan looks a little deprived of skilled middle order batsmen. No longer being serviced by phantom bowler Saeed Ajmal – the star dressed in dark green, is going to impact on field performance too. Nonetheless their bowling attack is their most powerful weapon in this competition. The evergreen (pun intended) Shahid Afridi was a sure shot pick by the Pakistani selectors this year. His leg breakers have won the team quite a few matches, while abandoning his captaincy for Misbah Ul-Haq provided him with undivided attention to the game. Will Pakistan be able to recreate the triumph of 1992 this time around down under? Pakistan has a lot to prove this time around.
Co-hosting the tournament this year will be New Zealand, sporting some brilliant players and a genuine home ground advantage, New Zealand looks sure to make a strong impact on this tournament. Boasting of possessing one of the world’s top skippers Brendon McCullum, alongside Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, the squad looks packed with serious game performance and delivery. Neutral cricket fans around the world will look at the Kiwis as one of the favourites to reach the later stages of the tournament.
One could be forgiven this year if they were to ask the question, what really were the West Indies selection panel thinking during the selection process? No Dwayne Bravo? No Kieron Pollard? The squad looks severely devoid of strength this year, although it houses a good combination of fielders, bowlers and batsmen. Having won the first two titles of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979, West Indies are strong contenders in any game. Chris Gayle is back on the crease this time (and in top form too) to register a few more metaphoric ‘Gaylestorms’.
Yet to progress through the knock-out stages Zimbabwe sports decent bat and bowl combinations. The African nation has definitely shown signs that there’s still some spark left in them. Hamilton Masakadza, who made his international debut 14 years ago, is all set to play his part in his first ever World Cup. The bowling group will be led by Tinashe Panyangara, who is likely to share the new ball with Tendai Chatara. They will be joined by Tawanda Mupariwa, the right-arm pacer, who last played an ODI in 2009.
Zimbabwe is placed in Pool B alongside South Africa, India, West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates. The African nation will kickstart its campaign against South Africa in Hamilton on 15 February 2015.
One of the newer players in the tournament (it first qualified to play in 1999) and not ones to leave without registering a presence, we look forward to some delightful cricket from Shakib al Hasan and some dangerous potency from Bangladesh’s favourite strikers. Mahmudullah and Mashrafe Mortaza are two players to watch out for.
All these teams have earned a ticket to play in the World Cup 2015 by qualifying through the ICC World Cricket League Championship or via the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2014. UAE is much like a new player in the tournament, playing for the first time since 1996, it will be looking to make some contribution in this tournament. Scotland is touted to be the weakest side in the tournament, having qualified this time after two successive failed attempts. Afghanistan and Ireland
are still on the stronger side with Ireland upsetting Pakistan way back in 2007 and England recently in 2011. They might all seem like minions up against ‘El Macho’ in the likes of Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and India. But, even the biggest armchair pundits of the cricketing world can’t deny that the smallest names can upset the most established powerhouses of cricketing nations, when it comes to the ICC Cricket World cup.
10 MOST MEMORABLE CRICKET WORLD CUP MOMENTS
With the World Cup around the corner, it’s only normal for cricket fans to start reminiscing about their favourite moments from previous World Cups. That’s why Harsh Mehta has listed his top 10 moments of all time
10 O’BRIEN’S FASTEST CENTURY MAKES HISTORY IN IRELAND AND THE WORLD
Kevin O’Brien put cricket on the front pages of his Irish hometown with a stunning win against England in Bengaluru. He made a century from 50 balls, the fastest ever achievement of a century in World Cup history, a feat that will forever be etched into Irish sporting folklore.
9 JONTY RHODES BECAME THE SUPERMAN OF CRICKET
South Africa’s first World Cup match was in 1992 after they were reinstated into the cricket world. In a match against Pakistan, Pakistan’s bowlers restricted South Africa to 211 for 7. At 48, Inzamam-ul-Haq was off crease and was run out by Jonty Rhodes in a fabulous airborne spectacle, where he picked up the ball mid-run and jumped to break the stumps.
8 GLORY, GLORY AUSTRALIA
Australia, a strong contender in the world of cricket, has the highest number of World Cup wins at four times. The team won its first World Cup in 1987 against all-time rival England. Later, they won three World Cup finals in a row: in 1999 against Pakistan, in 2003 against India (where they posted the largest ever World Cup final total of 359 runs and defeated India by 125 runs), and against Sri Lanka in 2007. It was a glorious moment in Australian cricket as it was the first time that a team had won three World Cup finals in a row.
7 CLIVE LLOYD LEADS WEST INDIES TO THE CUP IN 1975
In the first ever World Cup, Clive Lloyd made his first ODI century against Australia. He made a striking 102 from 85 balls, and was a magnificent innings by Lloyd which won the West Indies the inaugural World Cup in 1975.
6 WASIM AKRAM SHINING STAR FOR PAKISTAN
In the 1992 World Cup final Wasim Akram was the star performer for Pakistan against England. Akram had scored 33 runs of 18 balls which propelled the total to 249 for 6, and also took three crucial wickets in England’s innings. This led to Pakistan winning its first World Cup under Imran Khan’s leadership.
5 SACHIN WINNING HIS FIRST WORLD CUP
Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest player in cricket, won his first World Cup in 2011 in Mumbai under MS Dhoni’s captaincy. It was Sachin’s fifth World Cup appearance, higher than any other player. It was a proud moment for every Sachin fan all over the world, in Indian as well as international cricket history.
4 KAPIL DEV GETS VIVAN RICHARDS IN 1983 FINAL
It was a stunning moment when Kapil Dev took Vivian Richards’ catch by running backward in the World Cup final in 1983 in England. It was a difficult catch to take but was taken by the Indian captain, which changed the game for India and got them its maiden World Cup in 1983.
3 MAXIMUM GIBBS
Making a perfect 36 with six back-to-back sixes, Herschelle Gibbs hit Daan van Bunge’s leg spin in a match against Netherlands in 2007. He became the first batsman to hit six sixes in a row in World Cup history.
2 MS DHONI DELIVERS A WORLD CUP GLORY
It was a glorious moment for India when MS Dhoni conquered the World Cup with a magnificent six against Sri Lanka in Mumbai in 2011. This got India its second World Cup title after a span of 28 years.
1 THE CLASH OF AAMIR SOHAIL AND VENKATESH PRASAD
During the 1996 World Cup, Sohail slashed Venkatesh Prasad’s delivery prompting the crowd to boo Prasad. In a show of bravado, Sohail pointed to where the ball had gone as if to tell Prasad to fetch it. When Sohail tried to repeat the infamous slash off the next ball, he was bowled out. This time the crowd erupted in cheer as Sohail was sent off to the pavilion, his aggression leading to his downfall.
Volume 4 Issue 8