“That’s cricket,” as Kapil Dev who engineered a 66-1 upset in world cricket in 1983 used to say often seems apt to describe the biggest upset of the T20 cricket World Cup when the Netherlands, a bunch of largely amateur and ageing cricketers, downed a Goliath in South Africa, dubbed the eternal chokers, and threw a lifeline to Pakistan to squeeze into the last four.
The T20 game is no respecter of rankings and reputations. What a team brings to the arena on the day is what counts, which is why huge upsets are always possible. The cool and periodic wet climate of late spring in Australia balanced the contest between bat and ball while giving the bowlers an even chance, thus leading to gripping contests.
It will be India versus England and New Zealand versus Pakistan in the semis. Team India got there after topping the group, their nervous win in their opener against arch-rivals Pakistan warming them to the bigger tasks ahead. Falling narrowly to South Africa on a pacy Perth pitch did not throw them off their stride as their cricket was likely to come alive in the eastern Australian states.
With Surya Kumar Yadav proving to be the ablest batsman on show in the tournament, they are carrying the hopes of a billion on stronger shoulders now. Virat Kohli’s welcome return to top form with that battling innings against Pakistan was the icing on the cake for Team India who seemed a bit underdone when going Down Under.
Pakistan seemed down and out after South Africa beat India to go to the top of the table. To their credit, they kept bringing their best game to the arena while clinging to their hopes and hoping for a miracle, which came through the Dutch on the last day of the preliminary league. They are one of the favourites for the cup now along with India as the Asian giants face off against England and their old colony at the other end of the world, New Zealand.