While some look forward to 14th February for the Valentine’s Day, the fraternity of cricket enthusiasts are desperately waiting to re-ignite their own love, Cricket! As 14 of the prominent Cricket playing nations lock horns on the fields of Australia and New Zealand in the 11th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup taking place from 14th of February to the 29th of March.
The extravaganza goes underway when the co-hosts New Zealand take on Sri Lanka at the Hagley Ovel in Christchurch, New Zealand. Just like the 2011 format, 14 teams have been divided into 2 groups of 7 teams each with England, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Scotland in Group A while Pakistan, India, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland, Zimbabwe and UAE round off Group B which kicks off with the marquee India-Pakistan clash at the Adelaide Oval in Australia on 15th of February. Top 4 teams from each Group progress to the Quarter Finals and from there onwards, we’ll witness the knockout stages.
In the context of fast and bouncy pitches down under, the hosts Australia and the in-form South Africa start off as massive favorites since all batsmen face an uphill task of keeping their deadly pacers at bay. Coming off the heels of a triumphant 2014, Sri Lanka’s chances have also been approbated bearing in mind their pedigree in big tournaments and the form of its senior players, however; the omission of Tharanga and Mendis came off as a surprise. Despite Neesham’s exclusion, New Zealand have been dubbed by many as the dark horses specially after a sublime 2014 and the inclusion of hard-hitters in their squad.
“Pakistan has administered more of a retrospective approach to the event by implementing the same kits that the men in green donned in the triumphant 1992 edition with Imran Khan flagging the ship.” -Ansub Dawach.
Pakistan has administered more of a retrospective approach to the event by implementing the same kits that the men in green donned in the triumphant 1992 edition with Imran Khan flagging the ship.This time around, under the leadership of yet another member from the Niazi Family of Mianwali (Misbah-ul-haq), Pakistan look to repeat the heroics of 1992 on the same Australian soil, however; it may look like an uphill task at least on paper. The team’s balance took a major blow heading into the tournament with Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez’s omission from the bowling activities and the surprising blows of Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanvir and Zulfiqar Babar. With a lack of such bowling options to summon, immense responsibility lies on the experienced shoulders of their talisman Shahid Afridi and the pacers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan who will specially be banked on to strike from the front, given his intimidating stature.
The pre-world cup tour includes matches against co-hosts New Zealand, Bangladesh and England for which the team left on the 21st January with high hopes and prayers from the passionate green fans who in spite of the stacked odds, hope for glory in an event that promises to re-write the history of cricket as we know it.