On Sunday, Australia claimed their 5th World Cup title at Melbourne. And on the same day began a four year long wait for the next edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The just concluded 2015 edition, though, has produced enough food for thought to keep the cricket fraternity immersed in the reveries of the Gentleman’s Game. Truly, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was nothing short of memorable! We witnessed runs being plundered by batsmen, fast bowlers dominating at times, and team captains unfolding their bagful of tricks every now and then. Let us then take a quick re-look at all that had transpired during the 44 days of action during the World Cup.
ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Group Stages – All about the bat dominating the ball!
It was raining runs at Christchurch, in the tournament opener between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. And the familiar story of the bat dominating the ball, by a country mile, continued unabated virtually all throughout the group stages. Australia plundered runs every now and then, and 350 looked like a mere formality for them in the first few games. New Zealand, though, jolted them midway through the group stages at Auckland. But then the Kiwis could only limp to a one wicket win in the end, chasing 152! England hit rock bottom at the very beginning of the tournament, and a humiliating loss to Bangladesh just opened the Pandora’s box for them, besides dousing their hopes of reaching the quarter finals. Sri Lanka did just enough to scamper through to the last eight.
India scored 300 plus totals against Pakistan and South Africa in the first two games and scripted an epic turnaround in their fortunes with the two back-to-back wins. South Africa were below par, anyways, during the group stages. Even the inconsistent Pakistanis managed to beat them at Auckland. The Proteas, however, managed to reach the knockouts, spearheaded by the herculean efforts of skipper AB de Villiers. Pakistan and West Indies could only just make it to the next round. West Indies, though erratic in their own ways, provided occasional episodes of ‘crowd electrification’. Chris Gayle’s double century against Zimbabwe stood testimony to that. Had it not been for their tardy net run rate, Ireland could have trumped either of the two in that race!
Quarter Finals – Remember Wahab Riaz?
Had it not been for Wahab Riaz’s fiery spell against Australia at Adelaide, the Quarter Finals this time would have been nothing to boast of! For none of the other three fixtures, involving the 6 other teams, could sustain our interest for any sizeable length of time.
South Africa did win their first knockout game in the history of the World Cup, but that game was against Sri Lanka who were in a bad shape! The islanders were bowled out for a paltry 133, and Quinton de Kock temporarily returned to form to take South Africa to victory in the 19th over.
India danced their way to victory against Bangladesh at Melbourne. And frankly, Bangladesh had nothing to take home from the game except unnecessary controversies. India posted a 300 plus total yet again, and their neighbours were nowhere close to chasing it down. Result – India walk into the semi final with a 109 run victory.
The knockout stage came alive for the first time in Adelaide, when Australia took on an unpredictable Pakistani unit. The Pakistani batting, though, was thoroughly predictable. Poor shot selection and infirmity in handling the pressure of a big game meant that the Asians had hardly put on anything on the board to challenge the might of the Aussies. 213 was all that Wahab Riaz was asked to defend! I say Wahab Riaz because the second innings of the match virtually appeared to be Wahab Riaz vs Australia. Unforeseen fast, short pitched bowling from the left armer had the co hosts crawling on their knees at 59/3! But, his fielders failed him by all possible means. One man’s superhuman efforts were clearly not enough. Australia were through to the last four with a 6 wicket win.
Martin Guptill massacred West Indies at Wellington with a knock of 237! New Zealand ran amok with the bat, scored 393, and put West Indies out of the game in quick time. Gayle and Co. then just hastened their exit from the tournament. Inappropriate shot selection and a clear absence of planning and coordination among the batsmen saw the Carribeans slump to a massive 143 run defeat.
Semi finals – Grant Elliot and Australia reign supreme!
South Africa and New Zealand played a memorable match at Auckland, which saw emotions flooding the cricket field like never before. Notwithstanding the looming presence of familiar nemesis – rain- the Proteas competed hard and put up a respectable total on the board. But their bowlers and fielders failed big time. Dale Steyn became a casualty of Brendon McCullum’s early assault. The effect of the other bowlers was kept at bay by a match winning knock from the little known Grant Elliott. A last over finish was romanticized by Elliott when he hit the penultimate ball of the match for a gorgeous six over long on! AB de Villiers and his teammates were in tears, New Zealand were in the final of World Cup for the first time in history!
Australia were all over India in the 2nd semi final at Sydney. MS Dhoni’s men were at their wits’ end to discover what went wrong, by that time Australia had posted 329 on the board. The Indian bowlers, after a romantic journey in the first 7 games, had come apart against Steven Smith and Co. The Indian batsmen tried, but not hard enough. The Aussies bagged a comprehensive 95 run victory and dashed into the final.
Final – Micheal Clarke finds fairytale farewell, Australia become World Champions
The Kiwis proved to be no match for their neighbours in the final at Melbourne. Inspite of winning a crucial toss, the Black Caps huffed and puffed before collapsing on a paltry total of 183. With an electrifying MCG crowd, and skipper Michael Clarke leading the way with a gutsy half century in his swansong ODI, Australia completed a 7 wicket win in the 34th over!