Finally the curtains are down for the Word Cup 2019 with England the champions at Lords after an epic final—- one for the archives. It was a good event but not without its negative points or controversies. The uncertainty of English weather washed out four important games which could have had a big impact on the league table standings. The umpiring has been ordinary in many games including the finals. Some untimely injuries across teams robbing them of crucial players and the weird parameter set up by the ICC of maximum boundaries in an innings put up as an winning option in the event of a super over tie.
The event saw some wonderful performances with Shakib Al Hasan topping the list with a great allround performance of 606 runs ( two 100s)and 11 wickets. Rohit Sharma was the highest run getter with 648 runs and 5 centuries , a phenomenal World cup for him as was for David Warner with 647 runs (two 100s). Kane Williamson (578 runs) was the player of the tournament as he was holding together a mediocre batting lineup. Michel Starc with 27 wickets was the highest wicket taker followed by the fast and furious duo of Lockie Fergusion (21 wkts) and Jofra Archer (20 wkts) along with Mustafizur (20 wkts) .However Jasprit Bumrah had the most impact with 18 wickets at the best economy. Special mention to Ben Stokes for his 465 runs at a high average and 7 wickets as also his match turning efforts in the final.
Contrary to pre-tournament build up that there will be astronomical scores of 350 plus on flat decks in this World cup, the fickle weather and slower pitches ensured much lower totals reminiscent of World Cups before 2000. In fact the innings scores of 1987 finals was not surpassed in the 2019 finals.
Let us have a brief round up of how the 10 teams fared in this event.
England : The champions had their uncertain moments in the league phase with an early loss vs Pakistan in a high scoring game . Later they were stunned by Srilanka and emphatically beaten by Australia and thus had to win their two remaining games vs fancied India and tough New Zealand which they attained with flying colours to regain the lost momentum and ended at number 3 in league phase. England avenged their league phase loss vs Australia by thrashing them at Egbastion to reach their 4th World cup final and the rest was history. The team was largely a batting powerhouse filled with exeptional strokeplayers . Opener Jason Roy was the impact player and his absence did coincide with some of England’s losses in the league phase. Bairstow, Buttler , Morgan ,Root all had some great moments in this World cup with Morgan smashing 17 sixes in an innings vs Afghanistan (11 of them against the talented Rashid Khan).Ben Stokes , another brilliant performer , finally became England’s trump card after his title winning exploits in the final , thus it was a redemption of his T20 World Cup final horrors at Eden Gardens in 2016 when Braithwaite mauled him for 24 runs and England lost the finals. England bowling improved as the tournament reached its final stages . Woakes, Archer and Wood were the top performers and Adil Rashid too managed to get crucial middle over wickets. Both Archer and Wood bowled some deliveries of serious pace . With serious batting firepower , England will continue to be a white ball threat for a while.
New Zealand : The Blackcaps had a steady start but some big losses to Pakistan, Australia and England almost had them going out in league phase. However some other results turned out to be favourable for them as Pakistan were sent packing and the blackcaps went into the semis with a better net runrate. Their bowling was impressive and consistent right through the World Cup, and was responsible for India’s exit in the semis and England’s struggle in the finals where the New Zealand attack almost completely choked the English batters from scoring. However the batting left a lot to be desired and there was added pressure on Williamson, who batted with flying colours in this event with two centuries. The openers were out of form which put more pressure on the middle order. However their failure to win the epic finals and the manner of the loss was a shattering experience for them. Williamson, Boult, Henry, Fergusion were some of their top performers in this World Cup.
India: Looked the best allround team in the league phase and topped the table. Their bowling attack looked by far the best in this World Cup with the fast bowlers delivering led by the brilliant Jasprit Bumrah. However both the wrist spinners were overall below par and Jadeja’s late introduction seem to stabilise that area somewhat. Opener Shikhar Dhawan’s injury was a big blow after his matchwinning 100 vs Australia. The batting was too dependent on the top three and it got brutally exposed in the semis after the New Zealand pace attack got through them. India failed to chase a modest target of 240 in the all important semis and crashed out of the World Cup in a huge upset. Some questionable team selections and the much discussed batting order of Dhoni in the semis did have its impact on final outcome. Rohit Sharma (with 5 100s) and Bumrah were the two top performers in this World cup with Shami, Hardik , Dhawan, Kohli and Jadeja having their good moments.
Australia : After a scrappy start ,the Aussies gradually was getting their act together with a convincing win over England at Lords in the league phase followed by win against New Zealand. They played some very close games and managed to win them by their sheer will power. They looked almost certain to top the league table till South Africa surprised them in their final game which pitted them against England in the semis . The Australian bowling was patchy with Starc and Behrendorff having some great days and Cummins struggled to get wickets in most games. Lyon had a couple of good games but their 5th bowler issue bothered them. Their batting was a mirror image of India with the openers firing well most games but they had middle order issues with Maxwell and Stoinis having poor World Cups. Alex Carey in the lower order was their standout performer and played some outstanding knocks . He was also involved in a brilliant run chase with David Warner against South Africa but fell narrowly short by 10 runs chasing 330 pls. In the semis the Aussies were surprisingly mauled by England . Warner, Finch, Carey and Starc were their top performers with Smith , Khawaja and Behrendorff having some decent games.
Pakistan : After a poorest possible start against West indies, Pakistan surprised England in their 2nd game only to lose convincingly against their World Cup nemesis India and then Australia . However Pakistan suddenly got into their groove by beating New Zealand convincingly and went to beat Srilanka, Afghanistan and suddenly found within striking distance of the semifinals as England and New Zealand lost a few games on the way. However they missed the semifinal spot narrowly due to poorer net run rate vs New Zealand and ended 5th on league table. In the final analysis their 1st match drubbing against West Indies proved costly. Also there were some selection misjudgements in initial games as they kept out a in form Haris Sohail and midway dropped a quality bowler like Shaheen Afridi . Once both Sohail and Afridi featured in the XI , Pakistan looked a different side. Babar Azam was their outstanding performer in this World Cup followed by Md Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Imam Ul Haq, Shaheen Afridi and Mohammed Amir. For Pakistan , it was a missed opportunity as they struck momentum bit late in the event.
Bangladesh : Looked good enough for an outside chance to reach the semis at one stage. However their mediocre bowling attack came in the way of their aspirations. Their big win over fancied South Africa and their spectacular win in a chase vs West Indies were big takeaways for them. They were also involved in a valiant run chase against Australia managing to reach 333 against a mammoth target of 381. The batting looked strong and full of depth. Shakib Al Hassan was their outstanding player of the tournament and also the best allrounder in this World Cup with 606 runs and 11 wickets. Amongst others Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das, Saifuddin and Mahmudullah had their moments.
West Indies : Started in brilliant fashion with a big win over Pakistan and followed with a close defeat to Australia. However ,the team could not move on from there and flattered to deceive. Injury to one of their trump cards, Andre Russell , was a big blow. West Indies subsequently failed to play as a well combined side and fleeting individual performances was not enough to get them going. Carlos Braithwaite with his astounding 100 almost changed their fortunes in the match against New Zealand but once they lost that match , their performance took a terminal dip. Still there were some encouraging performances from Nicholas Pooran, Shai Hope, Gayle, Holder, Sheldon Cottrell and Heytmer but they failed totally to function as a well oiled team and were inconsistent.
South Africa : There were some hopes on South Africa this time as they were playing without any expectations and hence was expected to play freely without any baggage. Unfortunately , their batting misfired with seniors like Hashim Amla underforming and others inconsistent. Even their quality bowling attack failed to fire. The team managed to rise from their slumber very late in the tournament closing out with a great win over fancied Australia. Imran Tahir , playing his last World Cup was one of their shining stars with Morris, Duplessis, DeCock , Van Dussen and Markram coming into their own towards the end of their campaign.
SriLanka : Srilanka has their share of problems before the event with questionable team selections, having left players like Chandimal, Dickwella and Akhila Dhananjaya back home. They struggled right through the event with their only shining moment coming from an upset with over favourites England. Kusal Parera and a young Avishka Fernando were the two decent performers for them in batting . The senior pros Anjelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga had a couple of games to remember– Malinga for his bowling against England in their upset win and Mathews getting a fighting 100 against India after a crucial half century against England.
Afghanistan : Their lack of experience shown through as they could not manage a single win in the World Cup. They had excellent chances to beat India and Pakistan but failed in the final overs of both games . Mujeeb was one of their better bowlers in the competition but Rashid Khan could not live upto his lofty expectations. Mohammed Nabi, Najibullah Zadran and Hasmatullah Shahidi were few of their good performers in this event.
This World cup like all previous editions had seen the last of many superstars who will not be around by 2023. Imran Tahir, J P Duminy, Malinga, Mathews, Shoaib Malik, Ross Taylor, MS Dhoni ,Chris Gayle ,Kemar Roach and few others. Some of the above named had already announced their retirement.
The World Cup 2019 has ended fittingly with a new champion in home team England. The focus shifts four years hence to the 2023 World Cup in India.