To say that India is a cricket-crazy country is an understatement. The fervent hype around the team during the recent 2019 Cricket World Cup in England gives a hint of the fans’ attitude towards cricket.
The team carried a lot of promise. It consisted of some great players such as captain Virat Kohli, previous world cup winner MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Kuldeep Yadav, among others.
Writing for the BBC, Suresh Menon remarked that, “ever since the 1987 World Cup, India has consistently been one of the favorites to win the title; they made it in 2011,” The country’s powerful team has always ranked among the four top teams at every Cricket World Cup.
In the 2019 World Cup in England, the expectations were still high. Unfortunately, India was to painfully exit the tournament even after topping their group.
So what went wrong? No one is ready to provide an answer to this question. However, the talking points during and after the World Cup provide interesting reading.
Cricket Mad Country
In 2018, the ICC carried out a survey that revealed over 1 billion cricket fans in the world of which 90% are in India. The same survey shows the fan base cuts across all age groups. The fans showed interest in all three formats of world cricket including test cricket, ODI cricket, and T20I cricket.
But it is at the Cricket World Cup that this passion comes out clearly. When India’s Men’s National Cricket Team, better known as the “Men in Blue” plays, the sub-continent grinds to a halt.
The team has so far won the World Cup twice and 2007 ICC World Twenty20 and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
With such pedigree, it is natural that the 1 billion fans in the sub-continent wanted nothing more than the title in England.
Interesting Talking Points
The Favorites Talk
A report in the Gulf News labeled India the team to beat in the semi-finals. This was a big confidence vote considering four leading ODI teams had made it to the semi-finals. New Zealand, India, England, and Australia were all in the mix. Of course, pundits had a low opinion of New Zealand.
Well, the unexpected happened when India stumbled to an 18-run defeat by New Zealand at Old Trafford. It was a shock for India and its billion cricket fans.
India Vs. England
India vs. England is always one of the fascinating matches to watch, and it never disappoints. When the team wore their new saffron jerseys to play against England, no one knew exactly what to expect. Well, most people feel the team sacrificed the spirit of cricket at the altar of tactical convenience.
England beat India with many spectators abandoning the game at Edgbaston. What happened?
There was some talk of India deliberately losing the game to scupper their rival’s, Pakistan, chances of progressing to the semi-final. With one of the best finishers in the crease and five wickets in hand, fans felt the team simply gave up.
This match is still part of the latest cricket news in the country and across borders. Fans still have many questions about the baffling finish, playing Rusty Rishabh ahead of Hardik Pandya and bowling two spinners. These questions still linger and remain talking points after the tournament.
- Pakistan Vs. India Round 7
One of the highlights of the tournament was once again the matchup between India and Pakistan. It is a match that never fails to excite cricket fans across the globe.
After beating Pakistan in 6 World Cup meetings, fans expect nothing less. Spinner Kuldeep Yadav struck at the vital moments to give India victory over Pakistan by 89 runs.
Of course, there’s much more that happened including Virat Kohli performance, Rohit Sharma’s inspired performance and the ‘45 minutes of bad cricket’ against New Zealand that cost India a place in the final.
For a sporting fan, these talking points at least give an idea of the action even from thousands of miles away. Were the Men in Blue overconfident? Was India’s exit unfair or should ICC change the format as captain Virat Kohli had suggested?