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ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: Shining India provide the sparkles

The CWC 2023 will be remembered for giving a fresh lease of life to 50-over cricket with the positives outweighing the negatives. A look at the good, bad and the ugly of the quadrennial event.

The Cricket World Cup 2023 finally revved into action after a dull start and rung in Diwali with a sparkle. The festival of lights, couldn’t have been any brighter for hosts India as Rohit Sharma’s boys are on cloud nine having won all their league games.

It is just that the best four teams – India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand – booked the semi-final slots after a month-long slugfest that was peppered with some stunning performances. The CWC 2023, thus will be remembered for giving a fresh lease of life to 50-over cricket with the positives outweighing the negatives. A look at the good, bad and the ugly side of the quadrennial event.

The pace setters: Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami supported by Mohammed Siraj startled their own fans with an eye-popping display of fast bowling. Bumrah had already primed himself up for the tournament’s leading bowler’s spot as India began their campaign with a flourish.

Jasprit Bumrah - Mohammad Shami

But it was Shami’s entry that stirred the pace attack and from thereon it has been all fire and brimstone. The 33-year-old pace bowler from Uttar Pradesh, who was not considered for the first four matches, got his opportunity when all-rounder Hardik Pandya was ruled out of the tournament due to an ankle injury against Bangladesh. Shami made an immediate impact in his first match against New Zealand by claiming five wickets and also the man of the match award. The games that followed against England, Sri Lanka and South Africa were the best by any Indian pace unit in white-ball cricket. Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav were not lagging behind either which meant the Indian attack sported the ‘dangerous’ tag in the 10-team event. Batting, which had often been India’s strongest suit, now had a powerful ally making them hot contenders for the title.

The Big Show: Glenn Maxwell, lived up to his nickname of ‘The Big Show’ with a sensational batting display to script a stirring victory for Australia that also sealed their semi-final spot. A spirited Afghanistan appeared to have it all wrapped up at the Wankhede Stadium having reduced Australia to 91-7 while defending a strong total of  291.

Glen Maxwell

But Maxwell pulled the rug from under the Afghans’ feet with a batting display that ended being ranked as the best in the history of one-day internationals, let alone the World Cup. The 35-year-old Victorian’s stunning 201 not out that came off 128 balls, was not just about the strokeplay (it contained 21 fours and 10 sixes) but also for his sheer grit and determination. Maxwell battled severe cramps and was on the verge of heading to the pavilion retired hurt but he hung on, hobbling on one leg and letting the ball fly to the boundary using his powerful wrists. The sporting fans at Wankhede cheered on Maxwell when he was down for the count and he ensured they got their reward with a ‘Big Show’. Australian captain Pat Cummins too essayed a crucial part by holding one end up during their unbeaten 202-run partnership where his contribution was a mere 12 not out!

Afghanistan zindabad: If India emerged as team of CWC 2023, Afghanistan were the toast of the event. They created the biggest upset by toppling defending champions England by 69 runs and proved it was not a fluke by notching convincing victories against Pakistan (by eight wickets) and Sri Lanka (by seven wickets) before Glenn Maxwell dashed their semi-final hopes.

Afghanistan --

Coached by former England batter Jonathon Trott and mentored by former Indian all-rounder Ajay Jadeja, they won the hearts of the Indian audience with their gallant display. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also deserve a pat on their back for supporting the Afghanistan players by granting them access to Indian grounds to train when their country was going through troubled times.

Netherlands may have finished last but they had their moments under the lights when they stunned South Africa (by 43 runs) and defeated Bangladesh (by 87 runs). For an Associate team that rarely gets to play the higher-ranked Test nations in the four years between World Cups, it was a commendable display and they can return home with their heads held high.

Champions crash land: Winners of the 2019 edition, England were expected to continue from where they had left, especially in the backdrop of their ‘win at all costs’ approach that had fetched rich dividends. But they crashed spectacularly losing six matches out of nine, including an embarrassing 69- run defeat to Afghanistan.

WC -- England

Face-saving wins against minnows Netherlands and Pakistan in their last league games, ensured they finished a respectable seventh. It was the batting that let them down badly with only opener David Malan and all-rounder Ben Stokes putting up a fight when the chips were down. They failed to deliver as a team and critical appraisals by Mark Wood and Moeen Ali underlined it further.

Sub-continent teams, sub-par display: With conditions that suited them Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were all expected to do much better but like England they failed because they didn’t click as a unit. All the three sub-continent teams possessed world class players but they lacked cohesion and floundered.

WC - Pakistan - Sri Lanka

Pakistan, with four wins, lost out on a semi-final spot while Bangladesh and Sri Lanka faded away with just two wins from nine matches each. Bangladesh barely managed to qualify for the upcoming Champions Trophy along with the fifth placed Pakistan while Sri Lanka, placed ninth, missed out. The ramifications of their poor displays were felt at home with Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul Haq relinquishing his post in the middle of the tournament. The situation was worse in Sri Lanka with Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe dissolving the Sri Lanka Cricket board following the team’s poor display against India. The drama continued as the board officials sought refuge in the Sri Lanka Court of Appeals, who stayed Ranasinghe’s decision. It didn’t end there as the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended Sri Lanka’s membership for “breaching its obligations as a member” which meant all Sri Lankan teams (junior, men and women) cannot participate in any ICC events.

Starting trouble: The build-up to the tournament was a dull affair and it lacked the buzz all around. Empty seats in non-India matches and complaints of unavailability of tickets by fans added to the disappointment. Another factor was that the start also clashed with The Hangzhou Asian Games where Indian athletes were turning in sterling displays, clinching a record haul of 107 medals. Cricket was momentarily pushed to the background as India celebrated its new heroes. But once the Asian Games fervour ended, interest in the World Cup was restored largely due to the Indian team’s powerful performances.

Untimed row: Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews’ controversial Timed Out dismissal split the cricket world as many blamed rival Bangladesh captain Shakib-ul Hasan for not upholding the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ by not recalling the batter. Mathews, who walked in at the dismissal of Sadeera Sarawickrama was declared ‘Timed Out’, the first such instance in international cricket, for failing to face the bowler within the stipulated time of two minutes.

Angelo Mathews - Shakib

The delay was accentuated when the chinstrap of Mathews’ helmet broke as he was preparing to put it on which meant he had to ask the dressing room for a replacement leading to the delay. Shakib appealed for ‘Timed Out’ and the umpires upheld it, although the officials asked the Bangladesh captain twice about the appeal and he refused to budge from his decision.

Shakib was hauled over the coals by the Sri Lankans while many fans blamed Mathews for not checking his equipment before he went in to bat. Mathews extracted his revenge by dismissing Shakib although Bangladesh won the match by three wickets. The acrimony caused by the controversial dismissal continued after the match as both teams refused to shake hands after the match. Interestingly, in Sri Lanka’s next match, against New Zealand,  Mathews was ready to take strike in a flash!


Which were the best moments of CWC 2023

  • A. India fast bowlers’ display
  • B. Maxwell’s unbeaten 201
  • C. Afghanistan beating Pakistan