Musings by Shekhar Nambiar
As cities in India – Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai – fight their lone, individualwars against pollution and the deteriorating air quality, the ongoing ODI World Cup brings some cheer, a silver lining to the grim scenario.
We are entering the final stages of the World Cup, the semi-finalists have become clear. India plays New Zealand at Wankhede on November 15 and it will be a fight between Australia and South Africa the following day at Eden Gardens.
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The WorldCup has been one big exciting tourney. There have been some superb matches, records set and major upsets.
New kids on block
The rise of Afghan cricket has been the story to write home about. With the dismal show of the Sri Lankans, and the elimination of the West Indians from the competition very early on, new teams – Afghanistan and the Netherlands – have played some superb cricket. They are the new stars on the horizon, nay they have arrived and are sure to make their presence felt in future battles.
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Pakistan lingered on for some time with the hope of one or more semi-finalists going down. That was not to be, shattering, once and for all, their slim chances of making to the final stages.
With England in dire straits, the focus has been on India, Australia, South Africa and the Kiwis right from the start.
England’s performance has been disappointing, to say the least. What a fall, it has been! From the reigning World Cup champion to being down and out was most unexpected.
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India’s winning streak
India have maintained a consistent winning streak and it has been the only predictable thing in this World Cup so far.
Pity that the World Cup had to come under the shadow of a ticket scam. The match scheduling could have been better. Take the Kotla, where the interest levels have been quite high, with even the lowliest of matches evoking great interest of average turnouts of 25,000 or more, which is noteworthy given the dismal atmospheric pollution levels in the city leaving people gasping for breath. Couldn’t Delhi have got a better deal with at least one or two more matches given its big-city status?
Local crowds in most venues have been at their best behaviour. The security has been so tight that hooligans and hooliganism were kept at bay.
The international players were hot favourites, many of them familiar players from the IPL matches. The IPL has turned the game around, bringing in a new dimension to the game of cricket, which at one time seemed going downhill having seen better days.
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Personally, this international competition was not a mere impersonal watch on TV. The big difference is I was able to catch quite a few matches and observe things at close quarters.
From seeing my first international match in 1969, I do notice the perceptible change, particularly in relation to the infrastructure at stadia, and the lighting – of course night cricket was a strict no those days — all of which contributing to perhaps a more electric effect.
So long as it is good for the game, I do not have a problem with change. I do miss the special merchandising from yesteryears. The special biscuit and sweet candies packed in attractive tin boxes with cricket images were memorabilia that were prized keepsakes. The sun visors were particularly what I used to look out for. Most of these seem to have disappeared from cricket grounds of today, with caps and t-shirts replacing them. These are now available at relatively throwaway prices thanks to online shopping options.
Notwithstanding these changes, I must say yeh dil mange more cricket! And may the best team win.
Have a happy and safe Deepawali!
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