Published On:Thursday, 2 April 2015
Posted by Chaudhry

Thank you, cricket!



The best eight teams made it to the quarterfinals, the top four advanced to the semis, the best two played the final and the better one won it. Upsets are exciting but top class athletes displaying what they're made of at the biggest stage, is inspirational.
Everything went according to the script. The two hosts played in the final, which was expected as they were arguably the two best teams in the tournament and because only those two play in these conditions. Even though it was expected, it's impressive how they lived up to the expectations and didn't let the nerves and the pressure of not disappointing the home crowd slow them down.

They played their hearts out, New Zealand more than the Aussies. New Zealand lifted themselves, they over achieved. Over achieved not because they made it to the final, they were good enough to reach the final. Over achieved in the way they thrashed opponents, attacked all out at all times, looked unbeatable and did go unbeaten. I don't think they were that much better than everyone else. They played to win. Played without the fear of losing and it worked for them perfectly. The only match it seemed that they were afraid to lose, was the final.

The Australians, meanwhile, just looked very confident and comfortable. It looked like they were in control at all times. They had one hiccup in the tournament against the Kiwis in the group stages when they were bowled out for 151. When they came out to bowl, they had more energy than a cheetah chasing a gazelle. They went out fiery hot with their bowling and not for a second did they relax the intensity in the field. They battled till the last ball and turn a blood bath into one of the most exciting and tight games of the whole tournament.

The bouncy tracks down under are alien to the sub-continent teams, more so than the English, Africans and the rest. Indians were very smart to schedule a long tour of Australia before the World Cup to get used to the pitches. But even after playing in Australia against Australia for months, they weren't able to get the win they were after.
Pakistan, meanwhile, played four friendlies against New Zealand which I'm sure helped them get an idea of the conditions. But from the way we started the tournament it looked like we hadn't picked up a bat or ball for ages. Thankfully we turned it around and picked up four wins in a row or our players would have been ridiculed all over media for years. Pakistani nation is very tough on its teams. We expect too much and forgive too little. We don't take losses too well. We support less and demand more.

We said goodbye to a few greats in this World Cup. It's always hard to fill their shoes. Unless you're Australia. Steve Smith has already taken the place of Michael Clarke the way he took over from Ricky Ponting. Warner reminds me of Hayden, he is strongly built, has this meanness about him and goes after the ball from the get go. Hazelwood is not quite Glen McGrath, but he has showed that he has the potential to bowl accurately, wicket to wicket with discipline with the new ball. Faulkner is their new Bracken. Johnson and Starc are very different than Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie but are shattering batting line ups the same way. They are undoubtedly some of the best in the world at the moment.

That shows that they have a very solid system in place. They have great coaches, great spirit for the game and great character. They raise great athletes, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their debutants play with more poise and confidence than Pakistani veterans.

We lost greats like Sangakkara, arguably the best wicket keeping batsman ever. A great player with great personality and charisma. He showed his character by scoring four centuries in his last international tournament. We lost his partner, Jayawerdene, another class act and the back bone of the Sri Lankan middle order for the past decade. We bid farewell to Michael Clarke, who filled Ricky Ponting's boots like they were tailor made for him. He didn't have the same talent as Punter did under him in 2003 with the likes of Hayden, Gilchrist, Bevan, McGrath, Warne, nevertheless, his players were some of the best in the world in their respective era. We are losing our very own Misbah and Younis. Again, backbones of the fragile spine of the Pakistani batting. They were no Inzi and Mohammad Yousaf but served the same purpose to our line up, with less class and less success, when it came to ODIs.

We are losing Shahid Afridi, but I don't consider him a great player, as many Pakistanis do. He will be missed but he won't be hard to replace. He was a good spin bowler, but he really only started bowling well in the latter part of his career when he knew his batting isn't going to secure him a spot in the team. He was smart to realize that and it helped Pakistan. He was able to bat with slightly less pressure. He was a below average batsman who could make a quick 20 or 30. He was extremely unreliable and because of that I don't think he would have made the line-up for any of the top six teams and because he wasn't too special with the ball either.

It's the best world cup that I have witnessed so far, taking over from England 1999. I would say 1992 was the best and will always be so in our hearts, but I didn't witness it live. I was only a toddler. But no, as I said before, we have to get out of the past and forget the 1992 triumph. It's time we start working to create a structure that will bring us glory in the future - not just in cricket, but across all sports.

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