By Sam Sooppersaud
The 2011 ICC World Cup on the Asian sub-continent is heating up. The fire was lit weeks ago, now the iron is getting from red hot to white hot. You may think that after weeks of competition the tournament would be winding down. But, to the contrary, it is getting keener and more exciting. The tournament is at the stage where the loser in any one of the remaining games pack up and go home, while the winner move on to the next stage- THE FINAL.
The opponents in the Semi Finals are New Zealand who will do battle with Sri Lanka while India take on their cricket rivals, Pakistan. New Zealand were not expected to reach this stage of the tournament, as they were in poor form just prior to the start of the tournament, as demonstrated by their miserable defeat by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, a mere weeks previously. But the Kiwis persevered, through grit and determination.
The pundits were predicting at the start of the tournament that Australia were the team to take this year’s championship. After all, they had won the three previous World Cups and at present are playing some excellent cricket. They had played unbeaten in the three previous World Cup Tournaments.
Then again it was said that the South Africans were the team to watch because they have a well balanced side, batting and bowling, coupled with the reputation for being an excellent fielding team. Pakistan, on the other hand, were eager to prove to their fans back home, and to the world that they can still perform to championship standard, despite the many negatives that have befallen them. Sri Lanka and India are two spin bowling giants and with the wickets on the sub continents noted to favor spinners, these two were given equal billing of winning the championship. Let’s not forget that England had just completed a successful Ashes Series in Australia and their players were in excellent mind, and form, and rearing to have a go at any and all opponents.
In their Quarter Final game we saw India handing Australia their first defeat in a World Cup game after thirty-four (34) victories. Quite a feat for the Australians! Pakistan had, a day earlier, in their Quarter Final match up, put the hapless calypso boys, the West Indies, on a flight back to the Caribbean. South Africa self-destructed after having bowled out New Zealand for a seemingly reachable total. England who had miraculously and courageously survived to the quarter finals finally was given a one way ticket back home by the steam-rolling Sri Lankans. After all, their openers Upal Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan knocked off 230 run, each scoring a century, not out. That’s right; they defeated England by ten (10) wickets.
On Tuesday, March 29 the Kiwis take on the Sri Lankans, in the Semi Final, and if the last series played between these two are any indication, then it is predicted that Sri Lanka will emerge victorious, because in that last series, Sri Lanka had romped over New Zealand. But again, the Kiwis had shown in their win over South Africa that they couldn’t be written off that easily.
On Wednesday, March 30 Semi Final, the dream match, India vs Pakistan takes place. At the start of the tournament cricket fans had salivated at the thought of such a clash, between the two sub-continent arch cricketing rivals. Yes, there is rivalry in other areas, both political and idealogical, but I have nothing to say concerning the relationship in that respect. I am writing about a sporting event between the two and I will confine myself to writing about the upcoming cricket match between these two nations.
They have played each other in sparsely spaced series in the past with the won/loss percentages being no tell-tale indication as to who is more dominant over the other. I would therefore look at the two present squads. The Pakistanis are intent on showing their countrymen back home that despite their many woes, and bad publicity, they are capable of redeeming the tarnished name of their (cricket) nation.
The batting on both sides seem to balance out, man for man, but in the bowling department Pakistan have the edge. Afterall, they have the highest wicket taker in this tournament on their team, skipper Shahid Afridi, whereas the Indian bowlers have not lived up to their reputation with the ball. I have spoken to numerous fans of both Pakistan and India and the consensus is that Pakistan has a 6:4 edge over India. We will just have to wait and see. I look at the contest this way: each side has fifty (50) events (overs) to perform and the team that wins most of these events will be victorious. Good luck to both teams!
The United States of America Cricket Club (USAICC), the indoor cricket practice facilities at 575 Merrick Avenue, Westbury, in Long Island, invites you to come and watch this colossal contest between these two great cricketing rivals on an ultra-wide projection screen, brought in specially for this event. Refreshments and food will be available.