So India lost 9 wickets for just 29 runs in the match against South Africa. The choker reversed the choke.
But no matter which way you analyze it, you can never find the true cause of such a spectacular batting collapse. But two things remain problems with the Indian team. The first is the batting powerplay. The second is the UDRS.
India have done really well in the mandatory powerplay (first 10 overs), crossing 80 runs on more than one occasion. The bowling powerplay hasn't been that much of an issue either. But when you look at the batting powerplay, then it's a totally different story.
India has generally been going at more than 6 runs an over in the tournament. That means taking any random five overs, we should make 30 runs. With a powerplay, that number should be much higher, at least in the range of 30-40 runs.
Statistical highlights of India-South Africa match
With England, despite scoring a mammoth 348, we were just 32-1 in the batting powerplay. The potentially best period became one of the worst.
With Ireland we were 23-2. With South Africa, we sank even further: 30-4. Looks like India is much better without the batting powerplay! But then, this is one thing you can't brush aside.
Time is running out and the team management has to find ways to master this.
To give you a better idea, the India-South Africa match went right down to the last over. The South African batting powerplay was 52-1. That's when they zoomed past us ahead of the game.
The second problem is the UDRS. India has been the most inexperienced team in this new rule and it is showing. We didn't have a single successful UDRS appeal in the game against South Africa. In fact, we have just one in the tournament! And there are teams with more than 5 successful appeals.
That's another thing which will cost us dearly in a close match.
In fact to show the power of UDRS, one only has to look at the Canada-Pakistan match. In the second innings, when Canada was batting, both teams together managed to overturn the umpire's decision as many as five times!
Weak with the weak, strong with the strong
England has emerged as the biggest contradiction in the current world cup. It has proved to be quite weak with the weak teams and quite strong with the strong teams. Against the minnows, its record has been abysmal. Netherlands managed to make 292 versus them and Ireland chased a record 328 against them despite being 111-5 at one stage.
With Bangladesh they fell even further. They could only muster up 225 and lost despite having the hosts on the mat at 169-8 at one stage. In the 46th over James Anderson sent down 3 wides, one of which resulted in a boundary. That's 7 runs on a platter. In all 33 extras were given, not understandable in a low-scoring game.
With South Africa, they defended a mere 171 after their opponents were coasting at 124-3. With India they managed 348 batting second to tie the match. So since West Indies is not a minnow, they are the odds on favourites for that match!
Indian batting collapse bizarre: Former cricketers
Whatever it is, England continues to be the most exciting team of the tournament and has converted Group B into the Group of Death.
Toppers or not?
Does it matter if you top your group or league in a world cup? What are the actual chances of winning if you do that? The answer is almost 50-50. Out of the nine world cups that have taken place so far, five have been won by group or league toppers (1975, 1979, 1996, 2003, and 2006).
In the remaining, teams with a poor start peaked at the right time to take the crown.
In Group A, India choked with South Africa. South Africa choked with England. England choked with Bangladesh. Bangladesh crashed to 58 all down with the West Indies. And the West Indies? They have a brittle batting line-up themselves.
In Group B, Pakistan choked twice, recovering once (with Canada) and not recovering once (with New Zealand).
And what of the minnows of this group?
They have simply been unable to live up to the pressures of such a big stage. Considering the fact that Zimbabwe have been around for decades and Kenya made it to the semi-final of the 2003 WC, you would have expected more upsets here.
All in all, it's a chokingly good world cup!
The author is a Bangalore-based blogger and journalist.