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Great spectacle unfolds today

Great spectacle unfolds today
Highlights

The climatic stages of the ICC World Cup-2015 are upon us and so is the excitement that it brings along. The league phase of cricket’s popular extravaganza was a roller-coaster ride for some and a historically watershed event for a couple of ‘minnows’. What will unfold from Wednesday when the quarterfinals begin will be a straightforward perform-or-perish syndrome with the winner taking a step nearer to the pinnacle of glory.

If no Indian figures in the top six run-scorers, it indicates that batsmen and bowlers are clicking as a solidly united team under Captain Cool

The climatic stages of the ICC World Cup-2015 are upon us and so is the excitement that it brings along. The league phase of cricket’s popular extravaganza was a roller-coaster ride for some and a historically watershed event for a couple of ‘minnows’. What will unfold from Wednesday when the quarterfinals begin will be a straightforward perform-or-perish syndrome with the winner taking a step nearer to the pinnacle of glory. The line-up has an interesting dash to it – one that also underscores the point that it will be a Test playing nation that will have the last laugh.

There is little room for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses for the simple reason that wins or losses in the leagues hardly matter in a do-or-die situation where one error could sound the death-knell. Of course, the morale of the pool toppers will be marginally higher, but so would be the motivational levels of the others who would be seeking vengeance. It happened on earlier occasions. It will be ditto this time round; the verdict can go either way.

The quarterfinal showdowns between Sri Lanka and South Africa on Wednesday and the Friday blockbuster between Australia and Pakistan will be high-voltage propositions and better advertisements for the ODI variety. Of course, India will have an edge over Bangladesh, although it is difficult to predict the outcome of the New Zealand and West Indies match. In present form, the co-host appears near-invincible, but then the Caribbean players, like Pakistan, are an enigmatic lot capable of pulling a rabbit from under the hat!

Moreover, the unbeaten run that New Zealand and India enjoy can give rise to overconfidence, which could be suicidal. The South Africans are notorious for this culture and have paid a heavy price for peaking too early. It was likewise for the Martin Crowe-led New Zealand in 1992. Interestingly, five of the contenders depend largely on their captain to lead from the front. South African skipper AB de Villiers is the best batsman in the world currently. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is always there with his famed finishing touches whenever the need arises.

Although Kumar Sangakkara has been the batsman of the championship, Angelo Mathews has actually risen in stature since taking over the mantle as has been the case with Misbah-Ul-Haq. Brendon McCullum has been in blistering form, which has been phenomenally awesome. Michael Clarke has blended a bunch of rising talent into world-conquering unit, which, like Dhoni’s boys, has mastered the art of winning crunch games.

The best thing about the Men in Blue is that they made the last eight stage on the strength of a well-blended team effort. If no Indian figures in the top six run-scorers, it indicates that batsmen and bowlers are clicking as a solidly united team under Captain Cool. That should come as the best psychological advantage for the defending champion.

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