World Cup snippets: The two certainties of cricket

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 15, 2011 11:03 hrs

There are two certainties of cricket. The first is that the Pakistan cricket team's batting, bowling or fielding can totally self-destruct at any given point in time. The second is that wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal will find newer and newer ways of not taking catches and still retain his place in the team.

In any given World Cup, the Pakistan team can go all the way to the final or be eliminated in the first stage. There is no such thing as current form or the state of the opposition. The Pakistan team seems to be able to win whenever it so desires and lose whenever it so desires.

When the umpire can play god

While batting collapses are common, in the match against New Zealand, our neighbours suffered a spectacular bowling collapse. Any team finding itself 210/6 after 46 overs will be praying to touch the 250 mark to put up a good fight. To touch 300 is unheard of. 92 runs in the last four overs is the stuff of legends.

How can a side which bowled well for 46 overs just lose it like that? This has to be one of the greatest bowling collapses in recent times.

The match also further showcased Kamran's manual of how not to take catches.

1. When the ball comes your way, freeze your body and let the ball pass. Then stare daggers at the slip fielder even though he had absolutely no chance of taking the catch.

2. When the delivery is going towards the leg side and the batsman is looking to play towards the leg side too, start going towards the offside and then reverse your direction by which time the ball would have gone for a four.

3. If the ball still comes straight into your gloves, then mysteriously drop it and look agonized.

Option 2 was used in the match against Canada while Options 1 and 3 were birthday presents for Ross Taylor who hit a brutal match-winning century.

While Kamran's shoddy fielding is strange, even stranger is the PCB's reluctance to retire him.

The two sides of a coin

So is India doing well or not at the World Cup? That depends on which way you look at it. The glass is either half full or half empty.

Detractors say that they won two meaningless warm-up games and then struggled to down the minnows of the group. The top order collapsed against Ireland and Netherlands. We failed to win against England despite putting up 348 on the board. India's bowling is a weak link and decisions like playing Piyush Chawla have baffled many.

But to give them credit, did you know that in the more than 40 matches (including the warm-up games) played before and in this World Cup, India is the only team out of fourteen yet to see defeat? They are also the first team to enter the quarter-finals and have the home ground advantage there.

As far as the minnows are concerned, Bangladesh kicked India out of the 2007 World Cup. Ireland kicked out Pakistan in the same edition and beat England in the current one. Netherlands made 292 against England.

So you just can't take the minnows for granted any more. Every match is important.

Now, no matter what happens in the matches against South Africa and West Indies, we are three games away from the Cup and it is only those three matches that matter right now.

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Crown prince rising

Some time back, troubles came in battalions for Yuvraj Singh. He lost his place in the Test side and his IPL captaincy to boot. Then he lost his IPL team altogether and his ODI batting form deserted him. There were people who said that retirement was round the corner.

But the riches have also come back in battalions. Yuvi has started getting wickets, runs and half-centuries. After getting two back-to-back man of the match awards, IPL Pune have announced him as their new captain.

The experience seems to have humbled him for when accepting one of the MoM awards, he pointed out the fact that he wasn't going at a run a ball.

A bow to the man who has seen both extremes: Not only has Yuvi hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, but he has been hit for five straight sixes as a bowler too!

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger