Every ODI World Cup usually goes according to a familiar script. The matches involving the Test playing nations are the most exciting and competitive with some g0oing to the last over. On the other hand the minnows collapse and give one-sided games.
Sure many tournaments have been littered with upsets like the way India and Pakistan were ejected in the 2007 edition, but by and large they are isolated incidents. Most of the matches involving the minnows are not upsets.
We are into the early days of the 2015 edition, but a clear trend is emerging. Most of the one-sided matches are involving Test playing nations while most of the paisa vasool matches involve the minnows.
First take a look at some of the matches involving the Test playing nations…
Pakistan beat West Indies by 150 runs. India beat South Africa by 130 runs. Australia beat England by 111 runs. New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs. Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 92 runs. India beat Pakistan by 76 runs. West Indies beat Zimbabwe by 73 runs. South Africa beat Zimbabwe by 62 runs.
That’s just a result of 20 odd matches. One simply fails to understand why one Test team collapses when facing another. To make matters worse, we also had the two most crushing losses both while chasing and while defending.
South Africa beat West Indies by 257 runs. New Zealand beat England with 37 odd overs to spare.
The first thriller between two Test playing nations came a fortnight after the tournament started. The Aussies were 151 all down and the Kiwis were in 152-9 in reply. But still New Zealand won in 23 odd overs and crushed their opponents in terms of the Net Run Rate!
But there were many more matches involving minnows which have been highly entertaining. The pick of the matches is probably Ireland versus West Indies, which saw a see-saw battle.
West Indies saw the loss of the likes of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels and were reeling at 87-5. Irish bowlers were looking to bowl out West Indies for a sub-150 total when the sixth wicket took the score to 241-6 thanks to a fine Lendl Simmons century and Darren Sammy 89.
The final score of 304-7 must have looked beyond their reach. However, the Irish fought from the beginning to the end. There wasn’t a century and though a few wickets did fall towards the end, the Irish posted 307-6 in 45.5 overs.
This was astonishing because there have been only five 300+ World Cup chases and Ireland have done three of them! In the 2011 edition, chasing a target of 328 with England, Ireland were at a precarious 111-5 but still won in the last over thanks to an astonishing 113 off 63 by Kevin O'Brien.
They were at it again just after a fortnight when they chased 307 versus the Netherlands.
Ireland’s 2015 match versus UAE was also a cliffhanger. First UAE recovered from 125-5 to post a healthy 278-9 thanks to a fighting 83-ball 106 by Shaiman Anwar. Then Ireland was 4-1 and kept losing wickets regularly to scrape through in the last over with just 2 wickets to spare.
Again there were no centuries and it was a team effort.
That wasn’t UAE’s only close match. With Zimbabwe they hit a fine 285-7 in their allotted overs despite the top score being just 67. Zimbabwe was in a bit of bother at 167-5 and in the end they won by just two overs to spare.
The other last over finish was an extremely historic win by Afghanistan versus Scotland. Both were chasing their first win in World Cups. Chasing a modest target of 211, Afghanistan collapsed to 97-7.
From there they clawed their way back first to 132-8 and then 192-2. The historic feat was achieved with just 3 balls to spare. Shapoor Zadran hitting the winning boundary and then collapsing on the ground with joy was a sight to behold!
Afghanistan also gave Sri Lanka quite a scare. They posted a modest total of 232 which should have been more than enough for the formidable Lankan batting. However Sri Lanka was 2-2 at one stage and even at 178-6 the Afghans must have fancied their chances.
However there were no further fall of wickets and Lanka won with just 10 balls to spare. It is a travesty that only the Test playing nations will be participating in the 2019 ODI World Cup and none of the minnows.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/