Shock results spark excitement at Cricket World Cup 2023

Shock results spark excitement at Cricket World Cup 2023
New Zealand's Rachin Ravindra (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Rahmat Shah during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 16 November 2023
Follow

Shock results spark excitement at Cricket World Cup 2023

Shock results spark excitement at Cricket World Cup 2023
  • Unfancied, practically written off Netherlands team cause major upset with win over South Africa

Several commentators at the Cricket World Cup 2023 seem to be of the view that the competition lacked spark in its opening stages. The criterion for this appeared to be a dearth of close, exciting, finishes.

But their reflections ignored the broken records and two shocks of the tournament, one last Saturday and a second on Tuesday. Afghanistan’s deserved victory over a lacklustre England in Delhi generated serious doubts about the latter’s ability to secure a place in the final four.

It means that the defending champions are faced with the likelihood of having to beat three out of India, Pakistan, Australia, and South Africa to stand a chance. On current form, this is a tall order.

India’s resounding win over Pakistan in Ahmedabad in front of a sea of blue shirts worn by more than 100,000 adoring supporters provided another example of the nation’s dominant and expectant attitude. It feels as if the other teams are battling to become India’s opponents in the final.

England’s defeat opened up the competition for this position even more than before. New Zealand and South Africa had set the pace. However, the latter’s case was set back by a shock defeat to the Netherlands in the dramatic Himalayan backdrop of Dharamsala.

This was a match which may not have taken place or not been witnessed by incoming observers. Weather forecasts for Dharamsala in the preceding days, suggested temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius, plus rain. There have been instances of professional cricket being played in temperatures of 7 degrees and 8 degrees in the UK. Surely, 5 degrees would be too cold to play a World Cup match. Fortunately, the forecasts improved, and 15 degrees was predicted, albeit with the ongoing prospect of rain.

However, the forecasts took second place to the logistics of reaching Dharamsala. Your columnist, along with a few other would-be spectators, were booked on a 11:10 a.m. flight from Delhi on Monday, the day before the match. Shortly before boarding time an e-notification was received to inform of a delay to 12:30 p.m. This time came and went, with an indication of boarding at 1 p.m. Doubts crept in that were realized with the announcement of cancellation. Although the plane was in Delhi, poor weather conditions in Dharamsala provided too great a risk to land there.

A melee ensued around the departure desk. Information emerged that the airline was offering a flight to Chandigarh and the provision of road transport to carry passengers onto Dharamsala, a distance of 450 kilometers. This did not appeal to some passengers, who included four eminent former international cricketers. At this point, alternative offers from the airline were not forthcoming.

However, a more immediate problem needed to be solved, the repatriation of passengers with luggage which had been checked in for the cancelled flight.

This meant transfer to the arrivals hall where the melee reformed. After customary jostling, it emerged from the beleaguered ground staff that an alternative offer was available. This involved a flight the following morning at 6:40 a.m. accompanied by an overnight stay at a hotel designated by the airline. Eight people, all seeking to attend the match, were in this predicament.

The hotel had seen better days, so we decamped to another venue for the evening. Everyone responded to a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call, and the 6:40 a.m. plane took off late but arrived early.

On leaving Dharamsala/Kangra airport it is difficult to miss a large poster of Anurag Thakur. He is a local MP and minister of information, broadcasting, youth affairs, and sport.

On the journey to the ground, more of his posters are strategically positioned. They are occasionally accompanied by posters of the Indian Premier League chair and former Board of Control for Cricket in India treasurer, Arun Dhumal, who happens to be Thakur’s brother.

What appears to be an excessive exercise in personal branding must be seen in the context of national elections due to be held next spring.

Currently, in Himachal Pradesh, the Indian National Congress party has 40 seats in the State Legislative Assembly, gained in 2022. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules nationally, has 25 seats. A fierce battle for votes is already in play for next year.

Further spice to this situation is added by the fact that Thakur was president of the BCCI between May 2015 and February 2017, when he had to stand down after the Supreme Courts’ order on BCCI governance.

It also seems that he has been involved in a legal battle between the Himachal Pradesh State Government and the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association over the rights to the Dharamsala cricket stadium. At one time, Thakur served as president of the HPCA. Indian cricket and politics remain firmly intertwined.

Against this political background and the natural, geologically formed backdrop of the lower Himalayas, the Netherlands team forged a dramatic upset in one-day international world cricket.

Unfancied and practically written off, they were asked to bat by South Africa, the start having been delayed by two hours of rain. This looked set in, but relented.

Reeling at 82 for five after 20 overs, a remarkable transformation to the innings was then driven by captain, Scott Edwards. Even at 140 for seven, a shock seemed improbable. An outburst of clean hitting by Edwards and Aryan Dutt propelled the total to 245 for eight. South Africa did not help their cause by bowling 21 wides. Such ill-discipline is unforgivable, and the team seemed flustered when put under pressure.

The Netherlands opened with a spin attack, which appeared to unsettle South Africa’s top order, which slumped to 44 for four. The team never recovered, despite some middle and late order attempts to restore balance.

The victory was the Netherlands’ first over a Test-playing nation at an ODI World Cup. It will be forever remembered by the team and its supporters, who celebrated in their traditional orange on the Dharamsala outfield.

It is reassuring that cricketers can still generate spectacular upsets and thrill fans when the game’s administration appears more wrapped up in commercial and political activities.


Mir’s six-wicket haul hands Lahore sixth straight defeat in PSL

Mir’s six-wicket haul hands Lahore sixth straight defeat in PSL
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Mir’s six-wicket haul hands Lahore sixth straight defeat in PSL

Mir’s six-wicket haul hands Lahore sixth straight defeat in PSL
  • Leg-spinner picked up 6-40 and bowled out Lahore for 154 in 17 overs

LAHORE: Usama Mir became the first spinner in Pakistan Super League history to grab a six-wicket haul as Multan Sultans beat Lahore Qalandars by 60 runs Tuesday, handing the two-time champions their sixth straight loss.
Leg-spinner Mir picked up 6-40 and bowled out Lahore for 154 in 17 overs.
Table-topper Multan posted this season’s highest score of 214-4 despite resting overseas players Dawid Malan, Chris Jordan and David Willey.
Usman Khan of the United Arab Emirates filled Malan’s shoes with a blistering knock of 96 off 55 balls and Iftikhar Ahmed provided a perfect finish by smashing unbeaten 40 off 18 balls.
Multan captain Mohammad Rizwan fell without scoring for the second time in the last three games when Shaheen Shah Afridi clean bowled him with a delivery that perfectly shaped into the batter in the first over.
But Usman kept counterattacking and hit 11 fours and two sixes as he capped his half-century stands with Reeza Hendricks (40), Tayyab Tahir (21) with a 60-run partnership with Ahmed off just 28 balls in the death overs.
Usman, who was dropped by Carlos Brathwaite on 89 at point, holed out to deep square leg in the last over to give Afridi (2-39) his second wicket.
Mir ran through Lahore’s middle-order in quick time when he had Rassie van der Dussen (30) caught in the deep, found the outside edge of George Linde’s bat and then bowled Jahandad Khan off a full pitched delivery in one over.
Mir claimed the last two wickets in his final over as Multan moved to the top of the table with five wins in six games.


Namibia spring surprise in ICC League 2 opening series

Namibia spring surprise in ICC League 2 opening series
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Namibia spring surprise in ICC League 2 opening series

Namibia spring surprise in ICC League 2 opening series
  • African side clocks up three wins from four games in Nepal
  • Next round of matches in UAE will feature hosts, Scotland, Canada

KATHMANDU: The opening series of matches in the new International Cricket Council World Cup League 2 cycle ended this week with a shock victory for Namibia in Nepal, as the tournament prepares to move on to the UAE, who will host Scotland and Canada.

Namibia won three out of their four matches in tough conditions, including a double over the hosts.

Nepal came back from the defeat in their second match to spring a shock of their own by beating perennial World Cup participants the Netherlands. It was a torrid tournament for the Dutch, who lost their first match to Namibia.

The series ended with Namibia on six points, the Netherlands on four and Nepal on two.

Namibia’s coach Pierre de Bruyn told Arab News he was “over the moon” with his team’s performance in the opening round.

“Last year we lost four games in Nepal and we learned a lot from that,” he said. “Winning six points in Nepal is incredible, beating them twice at home and taking points off them. It’s early days but we realized how important a point could be last time and that we should be ruthless in order to take points.”

Nepal, who only lost two home series in the entire 2019-23 League 2 campaign, had a series to forget this time round, with inconsistent batting from an ever-changing middle order.

Head coach Monty Desai said his team would now be doing all they could to win away from home.

“Losing at home hurts, but if you want to be known as the associate’s top team, away games are equally important,” he said. “We have been working very hard and need to bring maturity to it.”

Netherlands coach Ryan Cook rejected the notion that his team’s two defeats were a shock, despite their higher One Day International ranking.

“Shocking? Not at all. This is a very competitive league and it’s completely different game of cricket,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to adapt to those conditions. We are entering a new era in terms of the league.”

The next series of games feature the UAE, Scotland and Canada.

Canada’s coach Pubudu Dassanayake, who led Nepal in the 2019-23 League 2 cycle, said he was happy with his team’s performances in a series of warmup games played recently in Nepal.

“More than winning and losing, we were exposed in all three departments (of batting, bowling and fielding). More than just winning, I am happy we could find out our weaknesses. We expect to have our fast bowlers back to full fitness and perform in those conditions (in the UAE),” he said.

Oman and the US make up the eight teams that feature in the 2023-27 League 2 competition. Each side will play 36 matches — 12 at home, 12 away and 12 at a neutral ground — across nine triangular series. The top four will advance to the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifier and the chance to secure a place in the tournament proper.


Babar, Arif star as Peshawar beat Islamabad in last-over PSL thriller

Babar, Arif star as Peshawar beat Islamabad in last-over PSL thriller
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Babar, Arif star as Peshawar beat Islamabad in last-over PSL thriller

Babar, Arif star as Peshawar beat Islamabad in last-over PSL thriller
  • Babar Azam scored an unbeaten 111 runs from 63 deliveries to help Peshawar set a 202-run target
  • Arif Yaqoob claimed five wickets for just 27 runs as Peshawar restricted Islamabad to 193 for nine

ISLAMABAD: Babar Azam hit a blistering century and Arif Yaqoob registered a five-wicket haul as Peshawar Zalmi defeated Islamabad United in their exciting match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9th edition at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Monday.

Islamabad won the toss and sent Peshawar in to bat. Babar orchestrated a relentless assault on Islamabad and scored an unbeaten 111 runs from 63 deliveries, laying the foundation of his side's win.

Saim Ayub and Paul Walter respectively added 38 and 19 runs to help Peshawar set a 202-run target for Islamabad. In response, Islamabad could reach 193 runs in 20 overs.

"Comeback for the ages," PSL wrote on its official account on X. "Islamabad United lose 6 wickets for just 10 runs as Peshawar Zalmi clinch a last-over thriller."

For Islamabad, Shadab Khan returned 2/28 figures, while Salman Ali Agha and Naseem Shah took one wicket each.

In the second innings, Azam Khan hit 75 runs from 30 balls as Islamabad attempted to chase the mammoth 202-run target.

Colin Munro partnered with Khan and added 71 runs from 53 deliveries, but Islamabad faltered towards the end, losing six wickets in quick succession.

Yaqoob claimed five wickets for just 27 runs, while Ayub and Luke Wood dismissed one each to guide Peshawar to an eight-run win in the last over.

This was Peshawar's third consecutive win in their five matches, while Islamabad have won only one of their four games this season.


Hong Kong, Oman take charge in U19 Cricket World Cup qualifier on disappointing day for Saudis

Hong Kong, Oman take charge in U19 Cricket World Cup qualifier on disappointing day for Saudis
Updated 26 February 2024
Follow

Hong Kong, Oman take charge in U19 Cricket World Cup qualifier on disappointing day for Saudis

Hong Kong, Oman take charge in U19 Cricket World Cup qualifier on disappointing day for Saudis
  • All is not lost for Saudi Arabia in Group B, and they will look to their match with Bhutan on Wednesday as a chance to get their qualification campaign back on track

BANGKOK: Saudi Arabia’s International Cricket Council U19 World Cup qualifying campaign got off to a bad start on Monday when the team were beaten resoundingly by Oman.

The Omanis became the first side in the Asian qualifying tournament so far to bat their full 50 overs as they hit 222 for the loss of eight wickets.

In reply, Saudi Arabia could not mount a serious challenge to their target of 223 and they were bowled out for 81 in less than 20 overs.

Oman started their innings steadily, but Fahad Munir claimed the first wicket in the eighth over when he bowled Thineth Sumanasekera for seven, which left the Omanis on 29 for one. The other opener, Jeet Shah, steadied the nerves, hitting 55 from 92 balls.

As more wickets began to fall to the Saudis, Oman, on 93 for six in the 29th over, were looking likely to be bowled out for a modest total.

Shah was still at the crease but No. 8 batsman, Nitish Nadendla, changed the course of the innings with a superb 60 from 65 balls — including three fours and two sixes — as he added 56 in nine overs before departing with the score at 149 for seven.

Prathiesh Ramesh also made a half-century, adding 61 runs for the eighth wicket partnership with Nadendla before being the eighth wicket to fall with the score on 210.

Saudi Arabia could not bowl out Oman who reached 222 for eight, a total which also included 43 extras and had the Saudis feeling the heat of the sun for more than three-and-a-half hours.

The Saudi team’s response was to lose five wickets for 32 inside the first 10 overs. Opening bowler Puladith Medagoda took two wickets but it was the left-arm spin bowling of Arya Sampat that did most of the damage as he took four wickets for 21 runs.

Munir made the highest score of the innings with 15 and Ahmed Faisal was the only other batter who managed double figures, scoring 12.

All is not lost for Saudi Arabia in Group B, and they will look to their match with Bhutan on Wednesday as a chance to get their qualification campaign back on track.

Bhutan were bowled out for 85 in their match against Hong Kong, also on Monday, but pushed their opponents all the way, forcing the loss of six wickets as they reached their total of 86 within 25 overs.


Defeat to Bermuda leaves Saudi Arabia’s ICC CWC Challenge League play-off hopes in the balance

Defeat to Bermuda leaves Saudi Arabia’s ICC CWC Challenge League play-off hopes in the balance
Updated 26 February 2024
Follow

Defeat to Bermuda leaves Saudi Arabia’s ICC CWC Challenge League play-off hopes in the balance

Defeat to Bermuda leaves Saudi Arabia’s ICC CWC Challenge League play-off hopes in the balance
  • Now require favor from Gulf rivals Kuwait, who must beat Bermuda in the final Group A match on Monday to ensure Saudis progress

LONDON: Saudi Arabia fell to an agonizing defeat to Bermuda in the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League play-off in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday as they lost by four runs.

The defeat is the second in a row for the Saudis and leaves their qualification for the Super Sixes stage of the tournament hanging in the balance and out of their hands.

They now require a favor from their Gulf rivals Kuwait, who must beat Bermuda in the final Group A match on Monday to ensure the Saudis progress.

It was a crucial win that kept hopes alive for Bermuda — who had lost their opening group match by 157 runs to Italy — and ended their 16-game losing streak in the 50-over format.

Bermuda won the toss and scored 227 all out from 44.3 overs, with captain Delray Rawlins top-scoring with 75 runs from 95 balls.

He was ably supported by Dominic Sabir, who hit 51, including five fours and a six, off 45 balls.

The Saudi bowling attack was led by Usman Najeeb and Zain Ul-Abidin, who both claimed three wickets and finished the match with economy rates below five runs.

In reply, Saudi Arabia’s batsmen made their way to 223 for the loss of nine wickets, with captain Hisham Shaikh top-scoring with 45 and Waji Ul Hassan hitting 41 in the middle order.

Needing to score five runs off the final three balls for victory, Ishtiaq Ahmad was run out by Allan Douglas Junior as he attempted to come back for a second run with just two balls of the match remaining.

Sabir, whose exploits with the bat were backed up with three wickets for 33 runs with the ball, was awarded the player of the match.