T20 World Cup enters the knock-out phase

T20 World Cup enters the knock-out phase

Upsets have always been a part and parcel of the cricket game. The T20 World Cup, too, has had its fair share of highs and lows as the event has now...

Upsets have always been a part and parcel of the cricket game. The T20 World Cup, too, has had its fair share of highs and lows as the event has now reached the business end of the month- long exercise, which took off on June 1. In the first 18 days, the cricket fans saw fancied teams like Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka crashing out of the tournament, tamed and beaten into submission by lesser-known and unfancied teams.

On Tuesday morning, the host and mercurial West Indies team put up an aggressive, muscular game to demolish the Afghanistan team by 104 runs to make Match 40 memorable. Nicholas Pooran, the swashbuckling left-handler, rustled up the tournament’s highest score by piling up 98 runs in just 53 balls. This game was more of a one-upmanship between the two contenders, as they are already in the Super 8 phase, which is beginning today night at Antigua.

From the spunky performance of the co-host USA team to determined displays by the other participants in patches, the World Cup with a total of 55 matches has had its memorable moments. Of course, there have been many references to the pitch condition and the wayward weather which has caused unexpected outcomes.

Having begun as a global game at the end of 19th century in America, cricket over a century has been confined to a dozen-odd countries, primarily erstwhile colonies of the British. Having seen many advancements to keep the interest in the sport consistent, cricket has been immensely popular in independent India for over five decades and more.

Home-spun superstars in this phase, beginning with Sunil Gavaskar who took over the mantle from his celebrity seniors like C K Nayudu, Lala Amarnath and a few more in the swinging 1970s, and a clutch of icons in the recent past from Sachin Tendulkar to M S Dhoni have immortalized themselves among their fans globally.

At present, Indian fans are keen to see how a faltering Virat Kohli, who has his own records to protect and perpetuate, will perform from here on, along with the team captain Rohit Sharma and the dashing Ravindra Jadeja, who will have to bow out of the game soon, completing long careers in the field. The T20 format’s initial World Cup tournament was bagged by our team nearly 17 years ago, but since then it has been a wavy, see-saw kind of a phase the game has seen at our end.

With only Bangladesh and Afghanistan to be tackled, Indians may have missed out the adrenaline-pumping encounters with Pakistan at this level, which has always been theirs to win in the last two decades. Yet, the host teams, West Indies and USA, have proven that they are no pushovers and are hopefuls for lifting the Cup.

By the end of the month, the new boss of T20 game at the world level would have been decided. Many have a sneaking feeling it could be Australia once again as they have already snapped up the World Championship of Test cricket, the One-Day International Cup in this year and would gladly want to add one final Cup to their kitty. This would surely give them an exalted status, which many teams can only aspire for. However, cricket is a glorious game of uncertainties and as neutral followers of the game, the best thing would be to wish that the best team wins.

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