ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Group Stage Round up
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 started with a bang. The host sides smothered the visitors, Sri Lanka and England, in their first matches. The tournament started with six totals surpassing the 300 mark in the first five matches, all of which turned out to be one sided for the most part. The tournament only got better with some extra-ordinary performances from some individuals and some teams up to the last day of the group stages.
Kumar Sangakkara started off slowly with some relatively poor performances prior to the World Cup and the first two games in the tournament. He scored 39 and 7 in his first two games in the World Cup but then he ticked in a grand fashion. Sangakkara scored four centuries in four matches and went on to become the first player in ODI history to do so.
He scored four consecutive hundreds against Bangladesh, England, Australia and Scotland and also became the tournament’s highest run-scorer. His outstanding batting led his team to qualify for the quarter-finals. Kumar Sangakkara scored 496 runs in six games with a strike rate of 119.5. This consistent and unbelievable performance from Sangakkara has made everyone question his decision to retire after the World Cup. He is a great batsman who will be missed when he retires.
AB de Villiers has proven himself over and over again that no matter what the conditions, opponent or situation, he can simply outclass anyone anywhere. AB has scored 417 runs with an average of 83.40 and a strike rate of 144.2. He has hit the most number of sixes in the tournament and comes in at third and fourth in runs scored and the highest strike rate in the tournament, respectively. To top it off, he has taken 4 wickets as well, doing his part as the fifth bowler for South Africa.
Even though he was not very familiar with the conditions, he has batted with such excellence that he led his team to two scores of over 400 consecutively, the first for a team. He also scored the fastest 150 in ODIs and third fastest hundred in World Cups against the West Indies. In addition, AB has been on-song and has scored three big scores lending a big hand in South Africa’s qualification to quarter-finals.
The most surprising performer of the tournament was Mitchell Starc. It seems as though he has taken comments, that he is a soft character, very seriously. Mitchell Starc has been bowling faster than ever before and has been the most formidable bowler of the whole tournament. Starc has taken 16 wickets at an unbelievable average of 8.50 with an economy rate of 3.67. He was part of the encounter between the hosts and it was his 6 for 28 that brought Australia to the brink of victory where they had almost lost all hope. Starc, in this World Cup, has returned hope to bowlers that if they swing and bowl full, there’s nothing stopping them from taking wickets on these tracks where the batting sides are consistently getting 300-odd scores.
This World Cup can be called the best World Cup for minnows or associate teams, if you wish to put it politely. All the associate teams have had better competitions against the full members than the full members playing among themselves.
Ireland defeated West Indies in their first match and chased 304 with such ease that it sent a message to full members to take them very seriously. Ireland had a bad day against South Africa where they just pulled the Irish apart but Ireland made a comeback after that and defeated UAE and Zimbabwe in close encounters making them just one win away from victory. In the end, Ireland could not qualify even with enough points because of comparatively poor overall run rate.
Scotland made the home side, New Zealand, sweat a lot to chase a small total like 142. New Zealand lost seven batsmen before they could chase down that target. Afghanistan’s strong bowling attack, Ireland’s great batting strength and professionalism, UAE’s players with great potential and a balanced side alongside Scotland’s all-round performances sent a clear message to the ICC regarding the 10-team World Cup in 2019; the associates can not be taken lightly ,and if provided enough opportunities, can make full members work hard for victory.
Bangladesh surprised everyone when they defeated England and made the most of their rained out match against Australia by qualifying for the quarter-finals. Bangladesh have performed really well and have not made themselves easy prey. A good bowling attack and more than enough firepower in the batting led them to their successes in this World Cup.
India had a poor 2015 prior to the World Cup but their astounding teamwork and spirited game-play has suddenly made them a strong contender for the World Cup trophy. Their batting and bowling combinations have clicked at just the right time and have made India an undisputed side as they enter the knockout stages with great momentum.
There’s still a lot to come from this World Cup. Kumar Sangakkara and AB de Viliers, the two best batsmen in the tournament, will compete against each other when their sides face in the first quarter-final. This will be followed by the Bangladesh and India, both Asian teams will fight it out in foreign conditions to progress further in the tournament. The third quarter final will be a left-arm pacer extravaganza where Australia and Pakistan will fight it out to see which side has a better left arm pace attack. The final competition is between two teams who only know one way to play, and that’s attack the opposition.
We should expect great and exciting matches in the near future and some tough and nail-biting encounters. Ab de Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara in the batting department, Mitchell Starc, Trent Boult and Dale Steyn with their express bowling and the great teamwork by Bangladesh and India will be worth the watch in the matches to come. Let’s wait and watch until play begins yet again.