The thought of West Indies, Pakistan or Sri Lanka beating England to the top-four before the semi-finals has now become a possibility.
Mumbai: A week ago, the ICC World Cup 2019 was tainted with the tag of the most boring World Cup in recent years. From the number of teams going down to 10, to the rains interrupting many matches including four matches being cancelled without a single ball bowled.
10 days into the fixtures, most matches began to seem predictable; with experts and fans pointing out that only four teams were real competitors for the trophy. As India, Australia and New Zealand made their way to the top of the table, teams like South Africa and Afghanistan kept sinking to the bottom.
The missing element from a tournament the world waited four years for was now crystal clear—‘Some serious competition!’
All that changed this week, between June 20 and June 23. The five matches in four days, perhaps the some of the most easily predictable ones of the tournament, turned out to be really close fixtures.
While underdogs Bangladesh gave Australia a run for their money, Afghanistan, who hadn’t won a single match, almost took out India, one of the two unbeaten teams. On the same day West Indies came shockingly close to defeating table-leaders New Zealand.
But while these teams came close, perhaps the biggest shocker came when an in-form Sri Lanka actually managed to thrash hosts and favourites England. The result of this match made the fourth position on the table a lot more vulnerable.
The thought of West Indies, Pakistan or Sri Lanka themselves beating England to the top-four before the semi-finals has now become a possibility.
Moreover, with Afghanistan nearly beating India, West Indies and Bangladesh in prime form, and Pakistan knocking South Africa out of the cup, the competition and threat to the top four teams has never been higher.
A lot hangs in the balance ahead of England’s clash against Australia on June 25, the hosts’ most challenging match yet.