MINNOWS LIGHT UP THE CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011
Mar 7 - 13, 2011
First Ireland known for his giant killing feat in previous world cup competitions dealt a knockout punch to England at the dusty pitch at Ahmedabad and later Canada almost came close to upset Pakistan in Colombo before skipper Shahid Afridi with his fast spin devastated the team from the land of maple leaf to maintain Pakistan's unbeaten run in the championship. Pakistan won the contest by 46 runs.
Misbahul Haq once again played the sheet anchor role and carried Pakistan innings to 184, a total against a club level bowling attack exposed Pakistani commitment.
It was Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi getting his second five wicket haul saved many blushes to the Greens who bowled the Canadians for 138 with Afridi clinching five for 23 to become the highest wicket taker in current world cup with fourteen wickets. He is just five wickets short of creating a new record of highest wicket taker held by compatriot Wasim Akram. In the remaining three games, he would certain overhaul his former captain.
Shahid Afridi has become the first bowler to take three four-wicket hauls in a single World Cup. He is also the fourth bowler to take two five-wickets in one World Cup.
Afridi has emerged as leading wicket-taker in this World Cup with 14, and needs only four more to equal the record for most wickets by a Pakistan bowler in a World Cup: Wasim Akram took 18 in 1992.
It is only the ninth instance of a bowler taking at least four wickets in three consecutive ODI innings. Waqar Younis achieved this feat on three separate occasions.
Except for Shahid's performance Pakistan had not much to show. Its batting flopped which could be worrying because it's next match is against New Zealand at the historical town of Kandy. They face Australia in the last league match of pool A at Colombo. Pakistan needs to finish on the top of the points table to avoid playing its quarter final in India where the fans would be aggressive.
However, it was Ireland that sprung the biggest shock of the fourteen team event when they handed down three wickets to England. Brian lit the Ahmedabad stadium with some lusty hiting. He scored 113 in just 63 balls hitting thirteen fours and six sixes when it looked all over for Ireland. He scored the fastest century of the cup history when he reached the magical figure in just fifty balls. Performances of both Ireland and Canada vindicated that minnows were not as ordinary as some in the ICC believe. The ICC may go ahead of sidelining the Associate members for the next world cup in 2015. But, they had to review their stand and create system which would give fair chance to the associates to reach the final title round.
Another issue which was hotly debated was selecting the power plays by captains. The selection of overs for two batting power plays by captains had come under attack by analysts who believe that some times the decision was not intelligent.
What is power play: This refers to the new fielding restrictions rule. In the past, there was a 15-over period at the start of an innings when only two fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle. This will now apply to the first 10 overs of every innings, in addition to two blocks of five overs (Power plays), which will be used at the discretion of the fielding captain.
Power play 1 covers the first 10 overs of an innings where the fielding restrictions are exactly the same as per the old ODI rules. Two fielders have to be in close catching position. Power play 2 represents the first block of five overs. The fielding captain has to decide at which point he wishes to implement this rule.
He can implement it at any stage in the match, provided he informs the umpire. Only two fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle and the two close catchers are not mandatory in this case. Similarly, Power play 3 represents the second block of five overs.
The umpire will signal Power play by moving his arm in a circular motion. UDRS or Umpires Decision Review System detested by India was also under severe scrutiny. But, it has added suspense to the excitement and most of the teams agree that it was good for the teams. Some of the umpires had also criticized the UDRS which they feel shake the confidence of the umpires. However, assessment of umpires efficiency would not be affected by UDRS. The new rule has only been helpful to both the batting and the bowling teams.