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A CLOSE LOOK

When sports are at their magnificent best

Nilratan Halder | Published: July 19, 2019 22:21:02 | Updated: August 09, 2019 21:24:23


British Prime Minister Theresa May laughing as she's handed the trophy by England cricket captain Eoin Morgan

That the championship match of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, 2019 held at the Lord's, cricket's Mecca, has been dubbed the best One-Day International (ODI) match ever played is not for nothing. The tie match got tied even in the super over and a silly rule has decided the champions. So the bottom line is, a team has won the championship without defeating its opponent and another team became runners-up without losing the match.

The best options would have been either to go for another super over like penalties in football or declare both teams joint champions. As long as the match gets tied, penalties are held to decide the winner and loser. It is more like a gambling but when no result is settled during regular and extra time, such gambling is the most viable option. Similarly, cricket should have one after another super over as long as the match is not decided. Or, if the ICC does not like to endure the nerve wracking tension, better declare both teams champions.

Now, why the match is dubbed the best ever ODI is not because it saw basketful of runs and boundaries and over-boundaries all around. On that count the major part of the proceedings was low-keyed and not so excitable, although there ran a kind of suppressed edginess because of the pressure created by the Kiwi bowlers when the ball dominated the bat.

The tingling nerve was about to burst forth in the final few overs when Trent Boult took Ben Stokes' catch only to spoil the chance-and surely the match too-by stepping on the boundary rope. Then again, it was providence that conspired to hand over the match to England. Or, else why should Martin Guptil's throw hit Stokes' bat and turn into a boundary and that too banking on umpires' mistake add six runs from it. The rule says if the batsmen have not crossed each other at the time of the thrown ball reaching the boundary, there is no run. This means England should have got five runs from the overthrow (4+1, not 2) and in that case, the Kiwis become undisputed champions. 

But providence conspired to write a different script for the final match in order to favour the host team. The mistakes and the awful rule of more boundaries deciding the outcome of such a pulsating match all go in favour of England. Those who made the ludicrous rule to decide such a match on the strength of more boundaries scored by a team did not do justice to the sport. A more rational approach would be to declare a team winner for losing fewer wickets. New Zealand lost eight wickets but England were all out. The former should have won.  Clearly, the glorious uncertainty of cricket was at its magnificent best on account of quite a number of flaws and mistakes.

Right at that moment, another sport, tennis to be precise, at the Wimbledon, no less prestigious than Lord's, unfolded the game's majesty in its most absorbing interest. It was for the first time that someone had won the men's championship from two match points down. Roger Federer could not cash in on those two points and the fourth set lasting about two hours tied at 12-12. Then Novak Djokovic clinched the match by winning the tie-break. Words cannot express the beauty and the subtlety of the match between Federer and Novak. The epic battle had everything tennis followers the world over like to see. Like Ken Williamson Djokovic played a tactical and patient game with the aim to tire his elder competitor out and he fully succeeded in his strategy.

Both match produced electric moments and blood coursed through the veins much faster than normal but a tennis lover would have rather watched the match between the two titans instead of the cricket match that had a denouement where sheer luck, not Williamson's cricketing brain was rewarded, ultimately.   

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