That Strange World Cup

Another Cricket World Cup comes to the fans, and the Indian team is going to Australia with that ridiculous and selfish motto “We won’t give it back!” as if it has been made┬áthe private property of BCCI after stealing it from someone else. This is the season of those fake patriots and new age nationalists who are going to temporarily love their country until this tournament is over. This is also the season of the abusers who are waiting to abuse the players from other countries and some of them might have even got a whole book of abuse ready for the process. Not having a look here┬ámeans no patriotism and so I will have a look at the chances here.

1. Australia: The bigger one among the hosts missed out on making a four out of four because the last World Cup was held in the sub continent. This competition at their place makes things so easy for them, as we have seen how well they did in the last tournament involving three teams in total. They have fine batting power, deadly bowling and the strength of some of the best all-rounders. When you look at the Australian team, you can say that this is an excellent group of players, something that you never expected when players like Gilchrist, Hayden and Ponting were gone. They might also be having a strong emotional side this time due to the comrade that they lost. Steven Smith will be the key, and even when he is not, there will be someone else on fire – if one man won’t score a century, another one will.

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2. India: With an amazing partnership from Dhoni and Srinivasan alienating most of the educated Indian cricket fans, the team still have so much firepower with the batting even as flat-track bullies in the team cannot be trusted. But the batting should click heavily at some point. By avoiding the services of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, the experience factor disappeared and so did a lot of fans. Another big mistake was committed by not including Robin Uthappa and Varun Aaron. But still with BCCI controlling most the ICC and as most of the cricket fans are in India, some special treatment should be given to the Indian team or team BCCI. If you look at the points table, India can easily finish second in their group and Sri Lanka third in theirs, thus making sure that India won’t have to defeat a good non-Asian team till semi-finals – that is a relatively easy path.

3. South Africa: With the official chokers tag, they have somehow managed to loss all the matches which they should have won. With always having a nice team, they have never been to the final and it is a shame. But, things can change this time. AB de Villiers will be a big problem for the opposition and the key player along with Hashim Amla, as the rest of the teams will have to wait an eternity to have both of these players out of form. But it is also a batting line-up that can go deeper, and then there is Dale Steyn and team that can boast of being one of the best bowling line-ups of this World Cup. This might be their time – they should be ready. They can only be given the third best chance due to their history and reputation.

4. New Zealand: Here is another team which has played too many semi-finals, but the engine stops there. Well, even Kenya has been to the semi-finals of a World Cup. This time, they also come to the World Cup as co-hosts, and this is a situation which they should use to their best advantage. The neve-ending form of the young star Kane Williamson and the experienced Ross Taylor can bring fear into the minds of the opposition. Then, everyone also know what Brendon McCullum and Corey Anderson are capable of – total annihilation. With no shortage of the all-round skills and the bowling that can use the conditions well, the black caps should consider this their best chance ever.

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5. Sri Lanka: For Sri Lanka, the young captain and the nice finisher Angelo Mathews will be the key along with the experienced Sangakkara-Jayawardane-Dilshan combination and the Malinga power. The middle order might be depending too much on Sangakkara and Jayawardane, but they should deliver enough. When there is the need, Thisira Perera should fire too. People are surely going to under-estimate this team, and it is going to be their strengths. They have been finalists for too many occasions, and it is time that they clinch a World Cup. I hope they make use of the opportunity this time – they have been one of my favourite teams.

6. England and Pakistan: Along with England, I was going to put West Indies here, and then I looked at that team, suddenly shifting to Pakistan. They also have a slight chance here, and for that Shahid Afridi has to play a big role along with the talented youngsters. It surely has a better chance than a remotely possible Gayle Storm. England can do well at these conditions as they have proved, but nothing much can be said. About United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, I have no idea why they are playing other than to increase the total number of teams and to give runs to the major teams. But I hope these teams prove me wrong, especially Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland.

*The images used in this blog post are from the official Facebook Page of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

TeNy

When Nobody Knows

I am pretty sure that a lot of people have prayed a lot for the Indian cricket team to win the World Cup. But among the things I have wanted the most was for India to win the Davis Cup – yes, Indian football team qualifying for the FIFA World Cup was a necessity, but I had always hoped for a tennis achievement more. This love for tennis had kept me trying to play tennis shots in badminton even as that reinforced the fact that I will never play tennis in my life.

That brings back to the topic – who would I want to win the Davis Cup as it was kind of impossible for India considering the absence of a big tennis player in the ATP division. There might be just one win in the doubles, which would have been quite easy at a time when Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were at full flow. But then, there is the other option, to watch Switzerland win the Davis Cup, something which happened yesterday at the same time as the ISL match between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC was going on.

Federer and Wawrinka - redefining Swiss tennis (pic from ATP site)

Federer and Wawrinka – redefining Swiss tennis (pic from ATP site)

I switched on the television and checked some of the so called big news channels starting with Indiavision. I waited till the sports news and kept staring at it, but it seemed that nobody knew there was such a tournament. For a tournament that happened at night, they don’t feel the need to show the news about it in the morning. It made me wonder where our journalism was heading. This is exactly why tennis doesn’t have that much of an impact in India.

Fed-rinka in action in France (pic from Reuters)

Fed-rinka in action in France (pic from Reuters)

Czech Republic did win the Fed Cup earlier defeating Germany in the final, but it is clear nobody cared about it. I would say that most of the people don’t know that there is a woman’s equivalent of the Davis Cup. The media might also need some classes about the same, as they keep searching for cricket even in the ISL. The final didn’t end up being the close contest that I had expected it to, but I am an admirer of Lucie Safarova and is glad to see her team win, as I feel that she has under-achieved. I am surprised that Sabine Lisicki didn’t play a singles match though.

The Swiss Davis Cup team (pic from daviscup.com)

The Swiss Davis Cup team (pic from daviscup.com)

The total number of quality female players in Germany was surely high, but the two players, Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova ended up being too good. These two were far ahead of the rest of the players from Czech Republic as out of the top twenty rankings, the next available players was under rank 150 while Germany had a better team in totality. The same is the case of Switzerland and France in the Davis Cup. Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrnika being way ahead of the others who are ranked below 200, and their opponents having all their five players in the top thirty.

The Swiss players with the Davis Cup trophy (pic from ndtv)

The Swiss players with the Davis Cup trophy (pic from ndtv)

This is a great win for Switzerland, and a wonderful addition to the list of great achievement of Roger Federer who had been fighting a lone battle for a long time before Wawrinka came into the picture – what an year for him too, beginning it with the Australian Open title and ending it with the Davis Cup trophy. The way in which they have managed to get rid of the rift between the two and come together to play for their nation, and how Federer managed to be fit for his country – all these are worth the appreciation.

But do our media know any of this? I have always considered Davis Cup with a great level of esteem. It is more equivalent to the World Cup than anything else, and it is the duty of the media to broadcast it and provide enough information about the same. The same is the case of Fed Cup which is more like a mystery around here. I wouldn’t be surprised though, considering the cold way in which they report Wimbledon. I hope that the senior Malayalam news channels and newspapers take tennis more seriously (a corner in the sports page is not enough for big tournaments), and it can only help the growth of tennis here.

TeNy