World Cup snippets: The minnows strike back

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 15, 2011 11:09 hrs

Bangladesh's 283 powered by Tamim Iqbal's 70. Netherlands' 292 powered by Ryan ten Doeschate's 119.

Ireland's victorious 329 powered by Kevin O'Brien's magnificent 113. The fastest World Cup century. The highest World Cup chase.

DRS leads to different interpretations for same situation

Suddenly all the minnows in Group B are fighting back, throwing the whole group wide open. Now it seems that anybody can beat anybody. Looking for two comfortable matches against Ireland and Netherlands, India suddenly find themselves studying the strengths and weaknesses of O'Brien, ten Doeschate & Co.

Forget focusing on topping the group and taking on a weak team, the target now is to make sure that one stays firmly in the top four.

Group A: As boring as ever

If one had to put their money on upsets, then before the tournament, one would have picked Group A. Aussies are allegedly in a state of decline. Pakistan is unpredictable. The Kiwis came with their worst form in recent times. Kenya is a World Cup semi-finalist.

And yet, this is the sedate and boring group. Zimbabwe, Kenya and Canada are yet to beat a team stronger than them. In fact, Canada bundled out Pakistan for 184, a score which had never been defended in the Colombo stadium that they played.

Yet, Canada made heavy weather of a low run chase and lost by a huge 46 runs in the end. Shoaib Akhtar didn't play in the match and yet Shahid Afridi was enough of a terror for the Canadians. He picked up 5 wickets.

How to groom the minnows

All this comes co-incidentally at a time when the ICC is thinking of having only 10 teams in future World Cups. While the ICC has a solid argument behind the logic, a point missed is that the ICC is not doing enough to develop cricket in other countries.

While the associates play many matches with each other, why don't they have series with the Test nations? That's the only way to groom them. Calling them to play with the best every four years will hardly help matters.

When India visits the West Indies, why doesn't it have an ODI series with Canada? When we tour England, why don't we have a T20 series with Ireland?

Unless the top associate nations get 2-3 ODI or T20 series every year with the top 8 nations, they will not be able to raise their game substantially.

Of course the real reason is that there is not much money in such fixtures. So the ICC would rather milk the existing top 8-10 nations for all they are worth.

A huge productivity loss...

If India does manage to win the World Cup this time, then there is bound to be a huge productivity loss. A lot of bosses must be dreading that.

If we do get that far, then the quarter-finals will be on a Thursday and the semi-finals will be on a Tuesday. The final is a day and night match on Sunday, so it's unlikely much work will be done next day on Monday.

That's three days down the drain for it will be like having three days of bandhs.

Beware of Imran Tahir

India always struggle against a new and unknown bowler. Ajantha Mendis engineered many a collapse before we figured him out. Umar Gul wiped us out in the second Test of the famous first series that Sourav Ganguly won in Pakistan. And so on.

This time the mystery bowler Imran Tahir of South Africa is creating a sensation. Tahir took four wickets against the West Indies and three against Netherlands. But India has enough time to study his tapes before they meet him in the group stage.

If India and South Africa and India meet again after the quarter-finals, he would be a much more known quantity by then.

South Africa again

What's new? It's the league stage and South Africa has stormed to the top of the table again. Two comfortable wins and a run rate to die for. But don't they usually waltz through league stages in most of the major tournaments they play?

More columns

South Africa look set for a quarter-final berth. But a little noticed fact is that they will be looking to win a knock-out match for the first time ever in a World Cup in the last 20 years.

How's that for being the most experienced rookie around!

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger