Mark your calendars: Anticipation increases as World Cup draws near

Only 30 days remain to the start of cricket’s biggest tournament


Nabeel Hashmi January 14, 2015
Hopefully, these 30 days would serve as the launch pad for Pakistan to prepare another World Cup winning campaign. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: With only 30 days remaining to the 2015 World Cup to explode into life, the countdown now begins for fans and players alike as the hype and anticipation increases with every passing minute.

However, the run-up to the tournament has not been smooth by any means for several countries due to the timing of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) crackdown on chucking and the ban on players who could have lit up the tournament single-handedly.

The plans of several teams have been left in disarray by the crackdown and Pakistan have felt its full brunt as they lost their most potent weapon in Saeed Ajmal, while Muhammad Hafeez is also currently suspended.

Other teams who had to go back to the drawing boards are West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka after their bowlers were also reported for suspected actions and were later banned.

Even though some of them have returned after clearing the test — including Sri Lankan Sachithra Senanayake and West Indian Sunile Narine — they will remain under scrutiny throughout the World Cup, which could minimise their effectiveness.

Before being reported, Senanayake and Narine had been baffling batsmen with their trickery, along with Ajmal, and were the main weapons of their teams’ bowling attacks. Now, the crackdown will surely affect them and consequently their team’s chances in the competition.

Similarly, the West Indies Cricket Board’s decision to axe star all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard has come as a major surprise and the fans have been deprived of a chance to see two of the game’s most brilliant entertainers in full flow.

Another who could have been part of his team’s plans had cricket been the only criteria for selection is England’s star batsman Kevin Pietersen, who has said that he is ready to don the national colours again after Alastair Cook was sacked as ODI skipper, while 2011’s man-of-the-tournament Yuvraj Singh may also consider himself unlucky not to make the final cut for the defending champions.

However, the major talking point throughout the run-up and during the World Cup will be death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes.

His demise on the cricket field left the whole cricketing fraternity in shock and the co-hosts have a reason to go all out and win the World Cup for the man they called ‘Hughesy’.

He may not be there with Australia but his memories could prove to be inspirational for Australia on home soil. One thing is for certain, Australian players will time and again look up towards the sky to search for their 12th man.

Pakistan, on the other hand, can find motivation in the country’s war against terrorism and the Army Public School attack in Peshawar which led to the deaths of more than 130 children.

The last time Pakistan won a World Cup — the World Twenty20 back in 2009 — there was a similar military operation in the country. At that time skipper Younus Khan had said that his charges want to win the World Cup for their nation and they did so.

Now, with the country in similar turmoil, the senior trio of Shahid Afridi, Younus and skipper Misbahul Haq will be hoping to give the nation something to cheer about in their final World Cup.

The last time the mega event was held Down Under, in 1992, it took Imran Khan and company exactly 30 days to make history.

Hopefully, these 30 days would serve as the launch pad for Pakistan to prepare another World Cup winning campaign.

 

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