World Cup 2019 comes back to life

FE Sports Desk | Published: June 25, 2019 21:59:57

A week ago, the ICC World Cup 2019 was tainted with the tag of the most boring World Cup in recent years. From the number of teams going down to 10, to the rains interrupting many matches including four matches being cancelled without a single ball bowled.

Ten days into the fixtures, most matches began to seem predictable; with experts and fans pointing out that only four teams were real competitors for the trophy. As India, Australia and New Zealand made their way to the top of the table, teams like South Africa and Afghanistan kept sinking to the bottom.

It looked like the favourite four teams of the World Cup were going to sleep-walk into the semi-finals, leaving a trail of dead rubbers in their wake. But a grey, comatose tournament came roaring back to life, first with Sri Lanka's resounding defeat of England, and then with Afghanistan and West Indies putting a real scare into India and New Zealand with two nail-biting finishes.

The missing element from a tournament the world waited four years for was now crystal clear.

All that changed this week, between June 20 and June 23. The five matches in four days, perhaps some of the most easily predictable ones of the tournament, turned out to be really close fixtures.

While underdogs Bangladesh gave Australia a run for their money, Afghanistan, who hadn't won a single match, almost took out India, one of the two unbeaten teams. On the same day West Indies came shockingly close to defeating table-leaders New Zealand.

But while these teams came close, perhaps the biggest shocker came when an in-form Sri Lanka actually managed to thrash hosts and favourites England. The result of this match made the fourth position on the table a lot more vulnerable. The thought of West Indies, Pakistan or Sri Lanka themselves beating England to the top-four before the semi-finals has now become a possibility.

Moreover, with Afghanistan nearly beating India, West Indies and Bangladesh in prime form, and Pakistan knocking South Africa out of the cup, the competition and threat to the top four teams has never been higher.

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