Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Minnows and powerhouses in equal numbers among exits and surprises

Despite high hopes and aspirations, several cricket teams in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup fell short of expectations, failing to secure a spot in the knockout stage.

As the tournament progresses to its final stage, let’s take a closer look at the performances of the teams that missed the mark in the quest for cricketing glory.

PAKISTAN

Pakistan faced yet another setback in the World Cup, exiting from the semi-finals race in the 2023 tournament. Curiously, Pakistan has developed a pattern of persisting in the semi-finals race of ODI World Cups, only to face insurmountable challenges in securing a spot among the final four teams of the tournament.

The 1992 champions started the tournament with two commanding wins over the Netherlands and Sri Lanka. But then four successive losses killed Pakistan’s hopes. Despite a late resurgence led by Babar Azam, marked by victories against Bangladesh and New Zealand, Pakistan’s hopes were dashed by their four previous losses. This left them in a position where they needed to achieve a remarkable win against England at the Eden Gardens to secure a spot in the semi-finals.

The Men in Green faced improbable scenarios to qualify for the semi-finals: they needed to win by approximately 287 runs while batting first or achieve victory with 284 balls to spare if chasing. Both tasks were highly impractical and challenging for the team.

Pakistan’s ouster from the semi-finals meant that they have played just one World Cup semi-final — in 2011 — since losing the final to Australia in 1999.

Their recent exit from the semi-finals marks a limited presence in this stage of the tournament over the past couple of decades.

AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan had a memorable campaign at this year’s ODI World as they registered a stunning 69-run win over England in the first major upset of this World Cup.

Afghanistan brought an end to a 14-match losing streak in the Cricket World Cup. After going winless in the 2019 event, they turned the tide against England using a mix of skill and smarts to beat the defending champions.

Afghanistan began their campaign with a costly defeat at the hands of Bangladesh followed by a loss against host India. Then they caused a major upset by beating defending champions England.

After a loss against New Zealand in their fourth league game, Afghanistan were buoyed with three consecutive victories — against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Netherlands — that breathed life into their campaign.

Thereafter, Afghanistan had to win their two remaining league matches to qualify for the semi-finals, but their task was not easy with a tough encounter first-up against Australia, which they lost by 3 wickets in a dramatic fashion.

Their memorable campaign came to an end when they suffered a loss against South Africa by 5 wickets in their final league match.

ENGLAND

England’s Cricket World Cup title defence ended before it truly began as they started the campaign with a loss to 2019 finalist New Zealand but bounced back with a 137-run win over Bangladesh.

What happened thereafter was quite unexpected as the holders lost five matches on the trot — a first for them in a World Cup. They lost four matches in the 1996, 2007 and 2015 World Cups.

Even captain Buttler admitted that it is hard to fathom just how poor his team’s performances has been.

“I’ll walk back to the dressing room after this and look at the players sitting there and think how have we found ourselves in this position with the talent and the skill that’s in the room,” Buttler said after the eight-wicket thumping at the hands of Sri Lanka.

England’s bowlers were the weak link in each of their first three defeats, before the batting collapse against Sri Lanka saw the blame for the fourth loss shift.

The squad they selected backed up that approach but England didn’t stick to their guns, and the approach hasn’t looked stable right from the start of the tournament, ending their campaign at the seventh place.

The only positive for England is that despite their lacklustre performance, the Jos Buttler-led side managed to secure their qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy — thanks to their big wins against the Netherlands and Pakistan in their last two league stage fixtures.

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka’s campaign ended on a low after its loss in the last league match of the tournament to New Zealand by five wickets at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

Out of the nine matches that Sri Lanka played, it won only two matches against the Netherlands and England, losing the other seven matches. On the points table, it is placed ninth with four points and a net run rate of -1.419, also losing the chance to book a berth for the 2025 Champions Trophy.

The 1996 champion’s 2023 World Cup campaign was injury-stricken as three of its players were ruled out midway through the tournament, including the captain, Dasun Shanaka, who sustained a thigh muscle injury in the match against Pakistan.

Ace pacer Matheesha Pathirana and Lahiru Kumara were also ruled out of the tournament due to injuries.

BANGLADESH

Bangladesh endured another disappointing World Cup campaign, becoming the first team to get eliminated from the semi-final contention despite starting with a win and finishing with seven defeats in nine outings.

Bangladesh kicked-off their campaign on a winning note, thrashing Afghanistan by 6 wickets but their performance took a nosedive as they slumped to six losses in a row.

The Shakib al Hasan-led side ended their losing streak with a 3-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their penultimate league match, but it was too late to resurrect their chances for the semi-final.

Bangladesh’s campaign, much like Sri Lanka’s and Pakistan’s, ended in a whimper with a lopsided defeat against five-time world champions Australia.

THE NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands impressed on the global stage, surpassing expectations by defeating stronger teams like the West Indies and Zimbabwe in the qualifiers.

Following a similar script, they caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 with an emphatic 38-run triumph over South Africa.

Later, the sensational Dutch side downed Bangladesh to record their second win in the tournament. Though they finished last on the points table with two just two wins in nine games but their spirited performance has garnered widespread attention and support, showcasing their ability to excel against more favoured opponents.

20231117163408

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular