The 12th edition of the cricket World Cup is into its business end now. Ten teams took part in the tournament, the smallest since 1992 when nine sides were in the fray. Five out of the 10 competing teams are from South Asia while two came from Australasia. One European, one Africa and the West Indies completed the line-up. There were not too many people who failed to predict the four teams that eventually made the semi-finals: India, Australia, England and New Zealand.
Although there were people who had thought Pakistan also had them in it to make the semis. India finished at the top of the points table with 15 from nine games with seven wins and one loss. Australia lost its top position to India on the final day of the league stage by losing a close match to South Africa. They also won seven games but lost two.
England had a scare of losing out from the race to the last four when they tasted to back-to-back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia. But they beat India and New Zealand to book their spot in the semi-finals. New Zealand had a good start to their tournament but their performance took a dip since their fifth match.
In their last five games, the Black Caps won two closely but lost three on the trot and would consider themselves lucky to have pipped Pakistan in the net run-rate to make the semi-finals. Now, India plays New Zealand in the first semi-final on July 9 while Australia takes on England in the second semi-final on July 11. The final will be played at Lord’s on July 14.
The teams that got knocked out from the tournament are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies and Afghanistan, in that order. Some of these teams like Pakistan and Bangladesh had shown promises to make the last four while teams like South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan were massive disappointments.
Here we focus what went wrong for the knocked out teams:
Pakistan: Could not overcome the initial jolt
Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side came into the tournament with a series of losses, including one against Afghanistan in the warm-up game ahead of the World Cup. They were blown away by the West Indies by 7 wickets in the very first match in which they could manage only 105. That loss had hurt the former champions’ net run-rate badly and they couldn’t make a comeback at the end despite winning their last four matches.
One of the reasons for Pakistan’s exit was inconsistent show by both their batsmen and bowlers. Barring Babar Azam and Haris Sohail towards the later part of the competition, none of the Pakistani batsmen could dominate like for example, a Rohit Sharma, David Warner or Jonny Bairstow did.
In the bowling, Pakistan played Shaheen Afridi far too late despite some of their pacers’ poor form. The team didn’t have enough firepower in the spin department to make it up either. The selection of veterans like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez was also suspicious.
Sri Lanka: Never looked a side that had teeth
The 1996 champions were never considered a frontrunner in this tournament because of the chaos in their cricket. That Sri Lanka chose Dimuth Karunaratne, a man who hadn’t played in an ODI after the World Cup in 2015, as their captain showed the state of affairs of their cricket. Internal trouble and poor form saw the selectors getting rid of a number of senior players and it was always going to be tough for the Islanders to make a mark.
Sri Lanka virtually became an outfit led by a few individuals like Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews. The duo played a significant role behind their only big win in this tournament which was against England and opened up the competition. But overall as a team, Sri Lanka lacked the teeth in both their batting and bowling departments that could see them lasting the distance.
Sri Lanka had two games washed out that gave them two points that they might have lost otherwise. It kept them in the hunt for a semi-final spot but when they needed to win some games towards the end, they were hammered by South Africa and India and also had a close win over the West Indies.
Bowlers win games and Sri Lanka’s bowling was virtually a no show in this tournament barring the game against England. They also won a close game against Afghanistan but that was more because of the Afghans’ collapsing under pressure. Sri Lanka would consider themselves lucky to have still finished sixth out of 10 teams.
South Africa: Injuries and off-form did the Proteas in
South Africa were not considered among the favourites like in some of the earlier editions of the World Cup. Yet, none did expect that the Proteas would fail so miserably in England. They lost their first three matches against England, Bangladesh and India and it became a herculean task for them from then on.
They beat Afghanistan but a washed-out game against the West Indies and two back-to-back losses against New Zealand and Pakistan ended their run. SA though finished well with two wins over Sri Lanka and Australia to finish seventh in the points table. The main reasons for which SA could not make it to the semi-finals this time are their failures in both bowling and batting.
As far as their bowling is concerned, they have had a strong attack at least on paper but the ruling out of Dale Steyn and Anrich Nortje because of injuries hurt them. Lungi Ngidi also had his share of injury issues while Kagiso Rabada failed to fulfil the expectations. There were yet a few bowlers who had taken more than 10 wickets in the tournament like Imran Tahir, Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo but yet, SA could not make inroads when it mattered the most and lost too many games.
In the batting, too, South Africa were a big failure. Barring captain Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen to an extent, the Proteas never looked intimidating with the bat. Keeper-batsman Quinton de Kock wasn’t as effective as one would have expected him to be. Hashim Amla scored a few fifties but didn’t come to the party in a way it would have mattered. SA’s middle order was brittle and someone of AB de Villiers’ calibre was certainly missed.
Bangladesh: A weak bowling that an impressive batting couldn’t make up for enough
Mashrafe Mortaza’s side was certainly the dark horses of the tournament after they started off with a bang by beating South Africa in their first match. But they could not keep up the momentum and lost too many games thereafter and also lost a valuable point as their game against Sri Lanka stood abandoned.
Another high point for Bangladesh in the tournament was their emphatic chase of 321 against the West Indies but they failed in some crucial games like against Australia and India. The biggest reason why Bangladesh could not fulfil the potential they showed in this World Cup is their weak bowling. They conceded 300-plus runs to as many as six opponents (South Africa, England, West Indies, Australia, India and Pakistan) and failed to deliver the knock-out punch against New Zealand.
The least they could restrict their opponents to was 200 (Afghanistan). Mortaza was a complete disappointment and so were their spinners barring, of course, Shakib Al Hasan who also dazzled with the bat. Mortaza took only one wicket in eight games while spinners like Mehidy Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain also failed to impress. Abu Jayed did not play a single game.
Mustafizur Rahman’s two back-to-back fifers against India and Pakistan raised his tally of scalps to 20 but in the rest six games, he could manage only 10. Mohammad Saifuddin and Shakib were the other bowlers who yet put up some show but overall, it was far too an inadequate effort from the Bangladesh bowlers. Yet, they will consider themselves unlucky to have finished at eighth position.
West Indies: Never played like a team
When the West Indies announced their squad for the World Cup, many felt that they would be a force to reckon in this edition. It was because the squad featured some of the most exciting talents in T20 cricket who deliver it consistently at franchise cricket level. They started off with a bang as well, bowling out Pakistan for 105 runs to win by 7 wickets.
They also had Australia on the mat but failed to win while Carlos Brathwaite took them to a distance of a strike’s win against New Zealand. But barring those occasions, the Caribbeans were a complete disappointment. Out of nine games, they won two (the first and the last, against Afghanistan) and lost six. One match was washed out. West Indies’ biggest problem was that they never looked at a team with a plan.
There were a lot of individuals trying to do their bit but the lack of a team unison left them wanting. The top batsmen didn’t get many runs apart from a few flashes here and there from the likes of Brathwaite and Nicholas Pooran. There were no partnerships and Chris Gayle was largely silent. The bowling was as insipid although squad had a lot of promising young bowlers.
The West Indies’ pace battery looked decent but apart from Sheldon Cottrell, none of the others could reach 10 wickets. The spinners in Fabian Allen and Ashley Nurse were almost invisible. With almost no penetration with their bowling except in one-and-half matches, the West Indies were always in the danger of losing games that would put them out of the competition.
Afghanistan: Were found to be lightning-struck
Having won the qualifiers in Zimbabwe last year, Afghanistan were considered one of those teams that would have an impressive run in the competition. But the side produced a complete anti-climax. Afghanistan failed to win a single of their nine games and made the world record of losing most number of matches in a single edition.
Afghanistan had come close to winning against India and Pakistan and could have beaten Sri Lanka as well. But the lack of killer instincts saw them ending up as a frustrating side. Afghanistan’s biggest mistake in the run-up to this World Cup was changing their settled captain – Asghar Afghan – just ahead of the tournament and replaced with him Gulbadin Naib.
The move had given birth to some disappointed voices in the team which had an impact on the team’s performance. The withdrawal of Mohammad Shahzad was another major step that impacted Afghanistan’s show. Rashid Khan’s failure to deliver with the ball was a big impediment for the Afghans. The 20-year-old leg-spinner took only six wickets in eight matches (he didn’t bowl against New Zealand after getting hit while batting) and against England, he was thrashed for 110 runs in nine overs.
None apart from spinner Mohammad Nabi got 10 scalps in this World Cup which meant their much-fancied spin attack also failed to deliver. In the batting, too, Afghanistan failed to put on enough runs. Their highest total in the tournament was 288 which was in their final outing. Lack of enough scores in the earlier matches reflected on their batsmen’s failure as senior batters like Asghar and Najibullah Zadran failed to score enough.
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