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World Cup 2019: 3 most defining moments for each

team in this tournament


26.07.2019  Author: C.NAMASIVAYAM

Team England are the new World champions. They have finally won a World Cup after three previous unsuccessful attempts in the final of a World Cup. The 2019 World Cup final between England and New Zealand was the best final in World Cup history as both the match and the super-over ended in a tie. Finally, England emerged victorious on boundary count.

England was by far the most balanced team of the tournament and richly deserved to win. But at the same time, one must not forget the lion-hearted effort of the New Zealand team in this World Cup. While England won the cup, New Zealand won the hearts of millions of cricket fans all over the world.

The England all-rounder Ben Stokes was adjudged the player of the final for his innings of 84. Kane Williamson received the Player of the Tournament award.

The four best teams in the tournament, India, Australia, England, and New Zealand had all made it to the last four. For India, the World Cup juggernaut continued till the semi-final when they ran into the determined Kiwis. The defending champion Australia walked into the rampaging hosts England in the semi-final and were decimated.

In this World Cup, each team had its most defining moments, It could be an exceptional catch or a drop of a sitter or a direct hit affecting a run-out or an injury to a key player at a key moment of the tournament. The successful teams of the tournament have fared better in such defining moments while the not so successful teams found themselves sucked into such challenging situations.

These defining moments were the difference between teams reaching the semi-final or the final or returning home empty-handed. For the winning teams, these defining moments were the turning point for the better while for the losers it was an opportunity lost. Again in such a long tournament like the World Cup, one single instance alone could not be the reason for the disaster. It could be a combination of 3 or more mishaps resulting in a team’s exit.

In this article, let us discuss 3 most defining moments for each team in this World Cup.

Afghanistan

#1 Batting collapse against Sri Lanka

​ The Afghan bowlers led by Mohammad Nabi did a commendable job by restricting Sri Lanka from 144 for 1 to 201 all out. The target was revised to 187 from 41 overs under D/L method.

In reply, Afghanistan reached 42 for 1 in 8 overs before bad shot selection led to Afghanistan reduced to 57 for 5. Lasith Malinga (3 for 39) and Nuwan Pradeep (4 for 31) ripped through the Afghanistan batting line-up to earn their team a hard-earned victory. Had the Afghanistan batsmen shown some patience, they could have won their very second match of the tournament.

#2 So near and yet so far against India

Afghanistan came so close to causing the biggest upset of the World Cup when they found themselves in a winning position against India. They needed 40 runs from 30 balls with 4 wickets in hand. Mohammad Nabi was leading the chase batting on 30. But he was up against an in-form Mohammad Shami and the best death bowler in the world, Jasprit Bumrah.

Nabi managed to bring it down to 24 in 18 balls. Here was the opportunity for Afghanistan to upset the World’s No 1 ODI team. But some exceptional death bowling from Shami and Bumrah ensured that India won by a narrow margin of 11 runs. Shami finished the Afghanistan innings with a hat-trick.

#3 That over by Gulbadin Nabi against Pakistan

Against Pakistan, Afghanistan was in the driver’s seat with Pakistan needing 46 runs from 30 balls with 4 wickets in hand. The spinners had kept the Pakistan batsmen on a tight leash and Imad Wasim was looking to break free. All Afghanistan had to do was feed the Pakistan batsmen with more and more spin. A loss for Pakistan could have ended their World Cup campaign then and there.

But for some strange reasons, the Afghanistan Captain and medium pacer Gulbadin Nabi decided to bring himself on. And that was it for Afghanistan as Imad Wasim plundered 18 runs in that over to open the flood gates. In the end, Pakistan won by 3 wickets with 2 balls to spare and kept their campaign alive.

West Indies

#1 Allowing the Australian tail to wag

After thrashing Pakistan in their first match, the West Indies were on a role against defending champion Australia when they reduced them to 79 for 5 and then onto 147 for 6. That was the first significant moment for the West Indies and a second successive win in the tournament could have taken their campaign to a different level.

But Nathan Coulter-Nile chose to show his batting abilities on that day and scored an unexpected 92 off 60 balls and in the process, registered the highest score in a World Cup by a no. 8 batsman. The West Indies had their moments to dismiss Coulter-Nile when on 61 but a dropped catch by Shimron Hetmyer ensured that West Indies lost the crucial moment and thereafter the match.

#2 The let-off by Shannon Gabriel off Shakib Al Hasan

Against Bangladesh, the West Indies left Bangladesh to complete a record chase of 322 runs to win. In reply, Bangladesh were 121 for 3 and Liton Das joined Shakib Al Hasan at the crease. The West Indies needed one more wicket to press home the advantage. That was when superman Andrew Russell created a chance when he forced Shakib on 55 to top edge a pull. But Gabriel at fine leg never made an attempt to catch that ball. Shakib went on to score an unbeaten 124 runs and was involved in a 189-run partnership for the 4th wicket with Liton Das which buried the West Indies.

#3 Carlos Brathwaite’s big hit falling short by inches against New Zealand

Against New Zealand, West Indies lost 7 wickets for 164 in pursuit of 292 for a win. Their only hope was Carlos Brathwaite. Brathwaite played the innings of his life scoring a hundred off 82 balls with 9 fours and 5 sixes. But when West Indies needed 5 runs with 7 balls to spare, Carlos ran out of luck as his powerful hit was caught by Trent Boult at long-on inches within the boundary. And that was the end of the campaign for West Indies.

Bangladesh

#1 Mushfiqur Rahim’s lifeline to Kane Williamson

After putting on board a competitive score of 244, Bangladesh sent back both the New Zealand openers for a team score of 55. Both Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor were new to the crease. In the 12th over of the New Zealand innings, Bangladesh found Williamson stranded on the middle of the pitch. All wicket-keeper Rahim had to do was to collect the ball and wipe off the bails. But he made a mess of it by placing his hand in front of the stumps directly on the trajectory of the ball and dislodging the bails before collecting the ball.

That was the turning point more for New Zealand than for Bangladesh as far as the final standings in the tournament were concerned.

#2 Sabbir Rahman’s costly miss off David Warner

The second defining moment for Bangladesh happened in their match against Australia. David Warner was given an early life in the fourth over of the innings when Sabbir Rahman dropped him at the backward point when Warner was on 10. Warner went on to score 166 runs and in the end, Australia won by 48 runs.

#3 Tamim Iqbal dropping Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma has always been a prolific scorer against Bangladesh. More importantly, he always reserves his best against Bangladesh in knockout games. Bangladesh had a wonderful opportunity to dislodge Rohit Sharma early in the innings. When on 9, Rohit precisely found the only fielder patrolling the leg side boundary but to his relief, Tamim Iqbal dropped a sitter at deep mid-wicket. He went on to score a hundred and batted Bangladesh out of the match.

South Africa

#1 The injuries to Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi

Before the World Cup commenced, South Africa was expected to have a formidable fast bowling line-up with the presence of Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada. But Dale Steyn failed to recover from his injury and had to leave the tournament without playing a single match. Lungi Ngidi had to leave midway through his spell against Bangladesh due to a hamstring strain and was out of action for the next 4 games. On return, he was never the same bowler. The absence of Steyn and Ngidi hurt South Africa’s chances.

#2 Faf du Plessis dropping Rohit Sharma

After losing their first two matches against England and Bangladesh, South Africa had to win against India to stay alive. Defending a modest score of 227, Rabada created a huge opportunity to dismiss Rohit Sharma in the second over of the innings but that chance was spilt by the South African captain Faf du Plessis in the second slip. Rohit was on 1 then and after a few lobs over the fielders’ head, some inside edges and after surviving an umpire’s call on LBW, Rohit scored a match-winning hundred to take India home.

#3 Butterfingers against New Zealand

In a must-win game against New Zealand, South Africa spilt too many catches to allow New Zealand to come back into the game. South Africa was in control having claimed 5 wickets with the target still 72 runs away. But David Miller dropped Colin de Grandhomme twice and Rabada and Miller combined to mess up a run-out opportunity off Williamson when he was on 77. In between, South Africa failed to review a caught behind decision off Williamson which should have gone in their favour. That match against New Zealand sealed South Africa’s fate in the tournament.

Sri Lanka

#1 Two consecutive Washouts

Sri Lanka was the most affected team due to inclement weather in this World Cup. Out of the 4 abandoned matches, two were involving Sri Lanka. Their two consecutive washouts against Pakistan and Bangladesh had derailed their campaign. Sri Lanka was fancying their chances against their Asian rivals. The lengthy break of 11 days due to two consecutive washouts had upset the rhythm of the team.

#2 Sri Lanka’s unexpected win against England made the World Cup fascinating

A lot of credit for keeping the tournament alive till the very end should go to Sri Lanka. With their shock win against England, Sri Lanka had brought the World Cup alive. By achieving that elusive win, Sri Lanka not only kept their own hopes alive but also brought Pakistan and Bangladesh into the mix. The 27th match of the tournament between Sri Lanka and England could be termed as the most defining match of the tournament.

#3 Batting collapse against Australia

Chasing 335 for a win against Australian, Sri Lanka was comfortably placed at 200 for 3 before they collapsed to 247 all out. The wicket of the Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne brought about an abrupt end to the Sri Lankan innings and their World Cup campaign.

Pakistan

#1 The huge loss against West Indies in their opening match

Pakistan’s first match against West Indies proved to be their undoing in the entire tournament. West Indies put Pakistan in to bat and bundled them out for 105 runs. West Indies finished off the chase in 13.4 overs and the match got over in a total of 35 overs.

After this match, Pakistan’s net run rate stood at a negative of 5.802. That left the team to do a lot of catching up towards the later stages of the tournament. In the end, Pakistan lost to New Zealand for a place in the semi-final on net run rate. That first match spelt doom for Pakistan.

#2 Pakistan’s decision to bowl first against India backfired

In Pakistan’s earlier 6 defeats against India in World Cups, they had batted first only once in World Cup 2003. On all the other five occasions, it was India who batted first and took the game away from Pakistan. Besides, Pakistan had a good record against India in the final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 when they batted first. Everything was pointing out to Pakistan winning the toss and electing to bat first. But when Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss, he decided to bowl first. Even Kohli was looking to do the same but the strength of the Indian team was poles apart. By electing to bowl, Pakistan played into India’s hand and the moment the Indian openers put on a century partnership, it was game over for Pakistan.

#3 The bizarre tournament rules

The change in the tournament rules was a defining moment for Pakistan. After beating heavyweights England, New Zealand and South Africa, Pakistan finished with 11 points, the same as New Zealand. In fact, New Zealand had lost to Pakistan and England. When two teams finish on the same points, the head-to-head record is normally considered. But in this World Cup, it is the net run rate that will decide which team will go through to the next round. Pakistan lost out to New Zealand on that count.

Australia

#1 Injuries to key players

Australia was the first team to qualify for the semi-final before they ran into injury issues. They lost Josh Hazlewood before the tournament started. He could have been more than a handy bowler on English conditions. Josh was followed by Shaun Marsh and the final nail in the coffin was the injury to Usman Khawaja which ruled him out for the crucial semi-final.

In between, Marcus Stoinis missed a few matches due to a side strain and was not at his best. Even Glenn Maxwell was a doubtful starter in Australia’s last league match against South Africa before he made it to the playing XI at the last minute.

#2 Failing to get rid of their tormentor Faf du Plessis

Going into their last league match, Australia had the option to beat South Africa and stay away from hosts England in the semi-final. But for that to happen they had to first get rid of their tormentor Faf du Plessis. Before this match, du Plessis had scored 980 ODI runs against Australia at an average 49 including 4 hundred.

In that crucial league match, Australia once again ran into the South African captain who scored his 5th century against them off 94 balls. Faf’s innings ensured that Australia had to meet England than New Zealand in the semi-final. That proved to be their demise.

#3 The combined failure of both the openers in the semi-final

Australia started their semi-final against England with a huge advantage. They had won an important toss and their two in-form openers David Warner (640 runs) and Aaron Finch (507 runs) were given the opportunity to make first use of a good wicket. But at that defining moment, both the openers were back in the pavilion by the third over of the innings and with that Australia were no more the world champions.

India

#1 The untimely injury to Shikhar Dhawan

In India’s second match against Australia, Shikhar Dhawan scored his sixth century in ICC tournaments to take the team to a comfortable win. But he fractured his thumb during the course of his hundred which ruled him out of the World Cup. That had forced a change in the Indian batting order with KL Rahul opening the batting along with Rohit Sharma.

Before Dhawan’s injury, Rahul had settled in the No 4 position for India. Now after Dhawan’s injury, the No 4 position once again became a bother for India. Though Dhawan’s replacement Rishabh Pant tried his best to fill in the void, his inexperience and poor shot selection hurt India at crucial moments.

#2 The collective failure of the top order in the semi-final

India sailed through the semi-finals with ease on the batting might of the top order. Before the semi-final, Rohit Sharma was the top scorer in the tournament with 648 runs and Virat Kohli had scored 443 runs. KL Rahul was not far behind with 360 runs. But the top three combined to score a mere 3 runs in the semi-final against New Zealand. The fragile Indian middle-order could not cope with the loss of early wickets and India crashed out of the tournament. The Indian top order failed to deliver at a crunch moment.

#3 The demotion of MS Dhoni to No. 7 position

When the Indian scorecard was reading like a football scorecard struggling at 5-3, Dhoni could have been the ideal choice to arrest the slide. He had the experience and patience to play out the remaining overs under trying conditions. But the Indian team management decided to send in Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya ahead of MS Dhoni which was a big blender. In the end, India had to pay a big price for their imprudence.

New Zealand

#1 Kane Williamson’s century against South Africa

New Zealand won an important league match against South Africa at Edgbaston. The New Zealand captain Kane Williamson scored an unbeaten century and New Zealand reached the target with just 3 balls to spare. It was one of the closest contests of the tournament and in the end, it was the patience and cool-headed approach of the New Zealand captain which saved the day for New Zealand.

#2 Martin Guptill’s direct hit to dismiss MS Dhoni

In the semi-final, after the early loss of wickets, Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni brought India back into the game. India needed 25 runs off 10 balls with Dhoni at the wicket. With Dhoni around, anything was possible.MSD was standing in the way between New Zealand and a place in the final. It was the most defining moment for both the teams. That was when New Zealand’s best fielder Martin Guptill hit the bull’s eye and caught Dhoni short of the crease by an inch. New Zealand marched onto the final of World Cup 2019.

#3 The brutal deflection in the last over of the final

England needed 15 runs off the last over of the tournament bowled by Trent Boult. For England, Ben Stokes was on strike. Boult started off with two dot balls. Stokes connected the third ball which sailed over mid-wicket for a six. Now 9 runs were needed off 3 balls. That was when the unthinkable happened.

A throw from Martin Guptill from the deep deflected off Ben Stokes bat to go for 4 overthrows. Ben Stokes was not at fault as it was purely accidental. Had the ball not crossed the boundary, Stokes would not have taken the extra run. But as it turned out, England got four bonus runs which turned out to be the most defining moment of the tournament. But for that deflected overthrow, New Zealand would have been the world champions. That overthrow took the game to the super-over where England won on boundary count.

England

#1 The return of Jason Roy

England’s World Cup campaign was in jeopardy when they lost two consecutive matches to Sri Lanka and Australia. Unfortunately for England, Jason Roy could not play those two matches due to injury. He was forced to come back from injury in England’s must-win game against India.

The return of Jason Roy rejuvenated his opening partner Jonny Bairstow and these two put on 160 runs against India to bring England back into the game and the tournament. Bairstow looked a totally different batsman when batting with Roy and these two were instrumental in hosts England making a comeback in this World Cup.

#2 Adil Rashid’s spell in the semi-final

In the semi-final, after the early loss of 3 wickets, Australia recovered through a fourth-wicket partnership of 103 runs between Steve Smith and Alex Carey. At that stage, it looked like Australia would recover well enough to post a challenging total for England to chase. It was the defining moment of the second semi-final.

Adil Rashid had bowled four unsuccessful overs conceding 29 runs. When everyone expected Rashid to be taken out of the attack, the England captain Morgan persisted with the otherwise expensive Rashid. That was the turning point of the match as Rashid removed the well-set Alex Carey and half-fit Marcus Stoinis in his fifth over to get into the Australian tail. Rashid finished with 3 for 54 in his 10 overs.

#3 The century partnership between Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in the final

In the final, England chasing 242 for their maiden World Cup win, were in a spot of bother at 86 for 4. England’s last recognized batting pair of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler were at the crease. One more wicket at that stage could have titled the balance in favour of New Zealand decisively.

However, Stokes and Buttler put their heads down to forge a century partnership on a dicey wicket to bring England back into the game. It was a tough wicket where every batsman from either team struggled except these two. That crucial partnership in the final was the defining moment for England and England came up trumps in the end.