Upset Saturday

18 03 2007

Yesterday was “Upset Saturday” in the 2007 Cricket World Cup. First, the Bangladeshis bowled out India’s much vaunted batting line-up (which actually included an extra batsman for this match) for under 200. In itself, that’s quite an achievement for a side whose only previous victory in the World Cup came in 1999. But to then score the runs in the manner they did, with complete ease, was quite astonishing. Although they ultimately won by 5 wickets, they very easily could have won by an even more handsome margin had they not lost two quick wickets in the closing stages to the bowling of Virender Sehwag, who has since been much-criticised for his batting performance.

It’s incredibly unfair to single him out when you consider that the great Sachin Tendulkar, a man seemingly immune from criticism by Indian cricket fans, was out cheaply too, to a very poor stroke. Sehwag, in his defence, was clean-bowled by an absolutely amazing delivery that would’ve troubled many batsmen. His performance, whilst not great, was certainly a lot better than that of Tendulkar, Dravid (who made a crucial error in batting first) and Dhoni. You could even criticise Ganguly, who put in all the hard work to get to 66 and then played a rash stroke when his team really needed him to knuckle down and guide them home. That stroke possibly cost them 15-20 runs which might’ve been crucial. Agarkar, picked for his all-round ability, failed with the bat. And ultimately it was the bowlers who performed the worst as they never looked like bowling Bangladesh out.

But the upsets weren’t over there. In India’s defence, Bangladesh are a Test nation, with a lot of young emerging players who look to have considerable talent. Their coach is Dav Whatmore, the man who guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup in1996 against all odds. He considers that Bangladesh might be genuine contenders in 2010 and given that Bangladesh look to be in a very similar state in their cricketing evolution to Sri Lanka in 1992, who would bet against it? This is a side that beat Australia in the Natwest Series in 2005 and came close to beating them in a Test match in 2006, something even England couldn’t manage later that same year. If they can amass a 158-run first innings lead over Ricky Ponting’s men, they’re not exactly amateurs. Ireland, on the other hand, are just that. Having beaten Pakistan in what must be the biggest shock result in World Cup history and celebrated St Patrick’s Day in fine style (as I predicted) it seems they, and their fans, might have to ask for extra time off work for the Super 8 stage! Good luck to them. At least it makes up for the Rugby…

Edit: Sadly the bad news for Pakistan did not end there. Having been knocked out of the tournament just yesterday by the rank outsiders, Ireland, their coach Bob Woolmer died this morning. Bob was a cricketing icon and a pioneer, and he will be sadly missed.

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