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ICC World Cup 2019 may lack the big upset

One of the most glorious options of any World Cup, in any sport, is the 'disappointed' victory. Remember when North Korea surprised Italy within the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England? Or Cameroon taken aback Argentina within the first match of the 1990 edition?


The cricket World Cup too has noticed its percentage of well-known upsets. Who can fail to remember Zimbabwe ground Australia in 1983? In truth, in the same event in England, they'd India suffering at 17/5 earlier than Kapil Dev hit the now-legendary 175 to get his team out of jail.

In 1996, Kenya left West Indies shell-shocked in Pune. With former India batsman Sandeep Patil as coach, the African aspect also went on to achieve the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup.

In that same event, Canada's John Davison blasted the then-fastest World Cup hundred, off just 67 balls, against the West Indies. In 2007 within the Caribbean, on St. Patrick's Day, Ireland beat Pakistan, a result that was followed by the tragic dying of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. Ireland enthusiasts like to recall how their team successfully chased down 328 in Bangalore throughout the 2011 World Cup to embarrass England.

One feels for Scotland, whose 2019 World Cup hopes were hit for 6 by a dodgy LBW choice once they were on course to overcome West Indies in Harare. Three months later, they smashed 371 to overcome England - World Cup hosts and the world's top-ranked ODI team.

Will the 2019 World Cup be remembered for the bark and chunk of the underdog? With Afghanistan making improvements to by the day, most likely one can pin hopes on them to create an disappointed or two.

However, the ICC's choice to restrict the World Cup to just 10 groups for the instant would possibly just rob the event of this essential element of an international championship. Former India batsman Sandeep Patil, who coached Kenya to the semis within the 2003 World Cup, defended the ICC, announcing, "You can only include more teams as long as the tournament doesn't lose competitiveness. The ICC did give chances to the associate nations, but the performance and the progress shown by these teams isn't up to the mark. Maybe that is what prompted them to take this call," Patil advised TOI.

Citing the example of Kenya, he mentioned, "Kenya did nothing after 2003. The infrastructure, which is so necessary for a team to do well and produce players, was missing. Their cricket authorities completely mishandled things. You can't have Odumbes and Tikolos playing World Cups again and again. Maybe a similar thing has happened in the case of Ireland and Holland. Zimbabwe are also struggling. However, if you see Afghanistan, they have taken positive steps after being given a chance."

But the question remains. With just 10 groups jousting for supremacy, the 'world' is missing from the World Cup. The choice, taken by the ICC at a time when the world frame was being run by India, England and Australia, serves as a poor commercial for a sport that is now striking up its hand for participation within the Olympics.

In the past, the World Cup served as a huge degree of publicity for associate international locations like Holland, Scotland, Nepal, UAE and Hong Kong. Even until the 2015 World Cup Down Under, 14 groups were allowed to take part. The flip aspect, after all, is that too many groups supposed a few meaningless video games and an unnecessarily lengthy event. Ironically, two of the most affected groups - Zimbabwe and Ireland - will likely be locked in a sequence which will end on July 14, the day of the World Cup ultimate. This would be the first Cup that Zimbabwe will miss since 1979. Playing as East Africa, they were a part of the inaugural edition in 1975 too.

The African team, on the other hand, has found a great way to 'distract' itself from the disgruntlement of missing out. In June-July, they are going to be touring Holland, after which Ireland.

"It's a big loss to Zimbabwe cricket. I know many players in my team who were looking forward to playing in the World Cup, but we're left disheartened after we failed to qualify," mentioned former India opener Lalchand Rajput, who is now coaching Zimbabwe.

"It's over a year since the qualifiers, and while we were disappointed at the time, to still be thinking about it a year later wouldn't be very constructive," former Ireland skipper Kevin O'Brien, who blasted a hundred off just 50 balls - the fastest World Cup hundred ever - to help Ireland turn the tables on England within the 2011 World Cup, advised NewsTread from Dublin. Incidentally, just final Sunday, Ireland skittled Afghanistan out for a paltry 138.

During the recently-concluded IPL, Nepalese leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane had brazenly criticized the ICC's choice. "Sorry to say but a 10-team World Cup will hurt a lot of players like me, who will not be a part of it. I think there should be 14-16 teams in the World Cup."

Few amongst the associate international locations will disagree with him. Unfortunately, even the following World Cup in India will function handiest 10 groups.

However, every dark cloud has a silver lining. The round-robin format, being presented for the primary time after the 1992 World Cup Down Under, is ready to create a hyper-competitive match. No team can now take any opponent with no consideration, nor can they sit up for video games during which they can 'loosen up' a bit of.

To make the semis, a team must win a minimum of six or seven video games out of 9. That will require consistency. "You have an off day and you are gone," India coach Ravi Shastri recently mentioned. Taking a cue from Pakistan's well-known triumph within the 1992 World Cup, a team has to hit top form from the final 4 degree, if it harbours hopes of going all the manner in England.

Sri Lankan nice Kumar Sangakarra hit the nail on the head when he mentioned, "This will possibly be the most competitive World Cup of all time."

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