AUSTRALIA UNSTOPPABLE IN SIXTH WORLD CUP TROPHY:
The five-time champions had the probably the worst start to their campaign in this World Cup, losing to India and South Africa. But the first win against Sri Lanka gave them the required boost and the momentum that they held on to for another seven consecutive victories to reach the semi-finals. On the way, they managed to pull off some stunning victories that included a three-wicket win over Afghanistan where they came back from brink at 91/7. In the last four against South Africa they overcame a stiff challenge to book a place in the final, where they shocked the hosts India, silencing 130,000 fans in the stadium and millions across the world.
NEW ZEALAND AVENGE LOSS IN FINAL:
The Black Caps lost the 2019 World Cup final by the narrowest of margins, via a controversial rule on a countback on boundaries. However, the New Zealanders came with a plan to avenge the loss in the opening clash in Ahmedabad. The thumping nine-wicket win dealt a severe blow on the defending champions from which they didn’t recover until the end of the World Cup.
PROTEAS’ RUN FEST:
The South Africans underlined their title credentials by pummeling a hapless Sri Lankan attack to 428 for five in 50 overs, the highest score in this World Cup. The South African innings had three centurions, Quinton de Kock (100), Rassie van der Dussen (100) and a record 54-ball century 106, the fastest in the World Cup, which was subsequently bettered by Glenn Maxwell.
THE TIME OUT CONTROVERSY:
Veteran Sri Lanka batsman Angelo Mathews became the first player to be given “timed out” in the 146-year history of international cricket during the World Cup clash against Bangladesh. Mathews had come in to bat after the fall of Sadeera Samarawickrama in the 25th over but was unable to secure his helmet strap tightly enough, an action which delayed the resumption of play. As a result, the former captain had taken more than two minutes to take strike and Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan appealed, which the umpires upheld. The move snowballed into a big controversy, splitting the cricket world, with Mathews demanding justice. Still Shakib played by the rules.
KOHLI SURPASSES TENDULKAR’S RECORD:
Indian talisman Virat Kohli has been in scintillating form, scoring runs in floods. The 35-year-old has led the batting charts in this World Cup with three centuries. His second century, coming against South Africa in a contest between the top two teams, helped him equal Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 One-Day International centuries. However, he repeated the act against New Zealand in the semi-finals in Mumbai to surpass the legend at his home ground, triggering celebrations across the world.
AFGHANISTAN CRICKET’S TURNING POINT:
Afghanistan have been around the World Cup for the last few editions, but they were not able to make a mark in the showpiece with just one win over Scotland, another Associate Nation. The Afghan team had the talent and the skill, especially in the bowling department, but they were not able to convert those into results. The batting was a big let-down. But a big clash brought the best out of them with opener Ramanullah Gurbaz leading the way to post a big total against England, which they managed to defend. Buoyed by the success, Afghanistan went on to chase Pakistan’s total. Ibrahim Zadran, who missed a century in that clash, went on to score a century against Australia after scoring victories over Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. The win against England is the turning point of Afghanistan’s cricket.
MAXWELL’S STUNNING DOUBLE CENTURY:
Glenn Maxwell’s double century against Afghanistan is a once-in-a-lifetime knock that left the cricket fans in awe. The five-time champions were down 91/7 and Maxwell, who made the most of a couple of chances, to go on an all-out attack mode to pummel the Afghanistan bowlers, who could do much and went on a brain freeze. Affected by cramps, the Australian all-rounder kept playing the shots without any footwork. In the end, Maxwell finished unbeaten 201 after putting on unbroken 202 runs for the eighth wicket with skipper Pat Cummins.
FREAK INJURIES KEEP PLAYERS ON SIDELINES:
While this World Cup has many pleasant memories on the field some players have suffered some freak injuries during the course of the showpiece. Glenn Maxwell suffered concussion after falling off a golf cart, while ace Australian batter Steve Smith suffered from vertigo to miss the Afghanistan clash. While the Australian duo returned soon, it was not easy for Kane Williamson, who returned to New Zealand playing XI against Bangladesh, suffered a thumb injury in the game in Chennai, only to sit out more games, while Hardik Pandya twisted his ankle while stopping the ball in his follow through, also against Bangladesh only to be ruled out of the World Cup.
DUTCH PROVING A POINT:
The Netherlands are becoming the bogey team for the South Africans. After shocking the Proteas in the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia last year, they managed to score an encore in difficult conditions. A One-Day International requires a sustained effort and one didn’t expect from an Associate Nation like the Netherlands. However, the Dutch capitalised on South Africa’s weakness in chasing a target to score a 38-run win and they followed it up with another shock win over Test nation Bangladesh. The young Dutch team have done themselves proud with an improved effort in the World Cup, which augurs well for the country’s future.
SRI LANKAN CRICKET REELING:
The Sri Lankans are the most inconsistent team in the World Cup. While they were able to beat defending champions England, the talented batting failed on numerous occasions. But the low point came against India, when they were dismissed for 55. The effort follows on after another dismal show in the Asia Cup final, where the Islanders were dismissed for 50. The loss had more aftershocks when the board was dismissed by the Sri Lankan sports minister, only to be reinstated by the court. However, when the parliament passed a resolution, seeking the board to resin, the International Cricket Council jumped in to suspend the Sri Lankan board’s membership over political interference.
SHAMI BREATHING FIRE AGAINST KIWIS:
Mohammed Shami started the World Cup on the bench. The highest wicket-taker in 2019 World Cup has not been a regular for India in the whiteball set-up. But an untimely injury to Hardik Pandya changed the equation in the pacer’s favour. Eager to make his presence felt on the big stage, Shami kept getting wickets, including two five-wicket hauls. However, the pacer saved his best for the semi-finals against New Zealand, where he claimed a seven-wicket haul to guide the hosts into the final at the Wankhede Stadium.
PAKISTAN CREATE RECORD WITH STUNNING CHASE:
Pakistan batting was put to sever test by the Sri Lankans. Batting first, the Islanders put the famed Pakistan bowling came under severe test against an attacking knocks by Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama. Chasing a big target of 344, history was against Pakistan as no other team had successfully chased that target. However, opener Abdullah Shafique and the dependable Mohammad Rizwan ensured that the Green Shirts chased the target with plenty to spare. The four-wicket win gave Pakistan their second successive victory in the World Cup 2023 and also the record books as the highest chase in a 50-over World Cup.