Sensational win for New Zealand over India

In an upset win in a rain-interrupted game, New Zealand beat favorites India in a thrilling first semi-final game in the cricket World Cup. New Zealand batted first and scored a very modest 239 runs in their 50 overs. Given the powerful Indian batting line up, it seemed like India would win with ease even on a difficult pitch but their top order batting collapsed, leaving them reeling at 92 for 6 before a stout rearguard action by M.S. Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja threatened to completely turn the tables by taking them to a score of 208, leaving them with just 32 runs to make to win.
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Cricket World Cup update

The preliminary round-robin stage of the ten nations in the tournament ended yesterday. India, Australia, England, and New Zealand ended up qualifying for the semi-finals. Since each team played nine games, with two points for a win, one point for a tie or no decision or abandonment, and zero for losing, the maximum points a team could earn is 18. These four teams had 15, 14, 12, and 11 respectively. The top three positions were filled by the pre-tournament favorites.

India will play New Zealand on the 9th and Australia plays England on the 11th. The final will be on the 14th. I will naturally be cheering for New Zealand to win because not only do they tend to play the game in a good spirit, the other three nations form a cartel that is using their financial muscle to squeeze the other nations to the detriment of the game worldwide. I would love to see them get their comeuppance on the field.
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Stunning upset in cricket World Cup

Against all odds Sri Lanka, whose performance in the tournament so far can only be described as utterly pathetic, today beat England, a team strongly tipped to win the tournament, in an exciting match. This was the first real upset so far in the tournament where the favorites have tended to win easily, the closest contender being the victory by Bangladesh over the West Indies though in that case it was an upset when viewed as a relative newcomer to Test cricket beating a Team that has been around for a long time. But Bangladesh has been surging recently while West Indies has been uneven and so the result was not really stunning.
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The cricket World Cup has become a waterlogged mess

After getting off to a good start for the first ten matches, the rains have come with a vengeance in the UK and four of the last eight games, including the one today between New Zealand and India, have been called off. Since these two were the last remaining unbeaten teams, there had been considerable interest in this game, making its cancellation particularly disappointing for fans everywhere. Tomorrow West Indies are scheduled to play England and the forecast calls for a ‘few showers’, not a good sign, but mostly in the morning so we may get (or at least hope for) a delayed but complete game.
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Rain disrupts cricket World Cup

Because cricket matches take such a long time, are played in open-air stadiums, and cannot be played when the ground is wet, they are highly prone to being interrupted by rain. According to the rules of the one-day game, each team must face a minimum of 120 deliveries of the allocated 300 for the game to be counted. Anything less than that and the match is considered a no-decision and the two points that goes to the winner is shared between the two teams.
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The puzzling stability of cricket bails

In cricket, there are three upright sticks (called stumps) about knee height behind the batter. If the ball delivered by the bowler hits any of the three stumps, the batter is out. This is the case if the batter completely misses the ball or hits it and the ball still goes on to hit the stumps. In order to provide an unambiguous signal that the ball has hit the stumps, on top of the stumps are two small cylindrical objects known as ‘bails’ that straddle the two gaps between the three stumps. These bails rest on grooves carved into the top of the stumps and for the batter to be out, at least one of the bails has to be dislodged and fall to the ground. The grooves are supposed to be deep enough that the wind won’t dislodge them but shallow enough that even very slight contact by the ball with any of the three stumps will cause them to fall. On very windy days, umpires have the option of using heavier bails.
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Brilliant catch in World Cup

The West Indies came close to causing an upset by beating Australia today. Australia batted first and West Indies had them on the ropes before allowing them to recover. Set a target of 289 to win, West Indies fell just short, disappointing many in the cricket world who tend to cheer against Australia partly for being part of the cartel with India and England and partly because Australia practices a vicious form of gamesmanship that extends to even cheating, taking the view that it’s ok as long as you are not caught.
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Afghanistan has disappointing loss to Sri Lanka in cricket World Cup

Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan today in a rain-affected, low-scoring thriller, the third exciting game in a row after a dull start to the tournament. The quality of the cricket on both sides was decidedly less than stellar but Afghanistan was playing better for most of the game until their batting collapsed towards the end. Although Sri Lanka is technically the team I should support, given that I was born in the country and such tribal allegiances tend to determine whom one cheers for, I actually wished that Afghanistan had won. Beating a top ten Test match team for the first time in a World Cup match would have been an enormous boost to that war-torn country’s morale.

Sri Lanka meanwhile has been going through a woeful period, especially in the shorter forms of the game, and a loss to the lowest-ranked Afghanistan team would have been depressing for them but perhaps the shock that the Sri Lankan cricket authorities needed to realize that they had to shake things up in their administration, selection, and coaching. The only bright spot is that their current team captain Dimuth Karunaratne, appointed after a series of rapid-fire changes in the captaincy, is leading by example, batting and fielding well. It now requires his teammates, especially the batters, to step up.

So now we go on to tomorrow’s matches where India plays South Africa and Bangladesh plays New Zealand. Both games should be close. India has to be favored over the talented but underperforming South African team that has already lost twice and is furthered hampered by their ace fast bowler Dale Steyn being ruled out of the rest of the tournament because of a shoulder injury. New Zealand is favored to beat Bangladesh but the latter team has been surging, as seen in their upset win over South Africa.

Cricket World Cup update

I am sure many of you have been dying to know what has been going on with the World Cup currently being played in the UK, so here’s an update.

There are ten teams in the tournament and the first round consists of a round-robin format with each team playing every other team, with the top four going to the semi-finals. Early betting favors India, England, and Australia (whose cricket organizations comprise the corrupt cartel) making the semi-finals, with England having a slight edge to win the trophy because of home-field advantage. South Africa and New Zealand are vying for the fourth spot.

The first four games were one-sided snooze-fests with England, West Indies, New Zealand, and Australia strolling to easy wins over South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan respectively, with Pakistan and Sri Lanka turning in particularly woeful performances.

But then things came alive with Bangladesh and Pakistan turning in thrilling victories against the more favored South Africa and England. Pakistan is living up to its reputation as the most mercurial of teams, going from pathetic in their first game loss against low-ranked West Indies to looking like world beaters in their second game against top-ranked England. You never know which team is going to turn up for a game, even if the players remain unchanged.

Tomorrow, Afghanistan plays Sri Lanka and has the opportunity to avenge its loss in the 2015 World Cup. India, the 2011 champions, plays its first match on Wednesday against South Africa. The latter team seems to never live up to its potential in these big tournaments and seems to be repeating that history this time too, already losing its first two matches. This makes New Zealand favored to gain the fourth semi-final spot.

Corruption and greed in cricket

The latest episode of Hasan Minhaj’s excellent show Patriot Act examined the deplorable state of international governance in cricket. He points out that the official bodies of the big three cricket nations (India, England, and Australia) act like a cartel and ram through measures that benefit themselves at the expense of other nations and the game itself. They have also resisted efforts to enable more nations to play at the highest level, because they seem to feel that widening the game’s appeal would dilute their power. They even derailed moves to have it included as an Olympic sport.

Here is the show.

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