1. A lackluster week of cricket was rescued yesterday by the Pakistan team when they upset South Africa. Finally, the Pakistani pacemen struck top form and made a modest total stand up. What is one to make of this South African team? They seem to have all the tools: two of the best batsmen in the world ( A. B. de Villiers, Hashim Amla), the world’s best fast bowler ( Dale Steyn), great fielding and a good supporting cast. And yet they lost. The loss to India was excusable because India played a near flawless game that day but yesterday’s defeat is inexplicable. I really can’t say that they choked. After all, there was no pressure on them; they were assured of their place in the quarters and even with the loss they will almost certainly finish second in Group B; it was Pakistan who were on the verge of elimination.
Ireland pulled off a crucial win but it may not be enough to see them through to the next round. Their two remaining games are against Pakistan and India, two almost certain losses. Meanwhile, their competition for the last remaining spot in Group B, the West Indies, play UAE and are a lock to win. Even now, the West Indies have a superior NRR and if the games go as expected they will end up edging Ireland on NRR. Too bad, I’d love to see one of the associates make it to the next round and it’s not going to happen unless Ireland upset either India or Pakistan.
In Group A. the first three spots are set and Bangladesh and England will be battling it out for the final spot when they go head to head this coming week. Even should England win, they will have to do it convincingly because they are far behind on the NRR.
My picks for the next round : NZ, Aust, SL, BD ( Group A); Ind, SA, Pak, WI. ( Group B)
Virat Kohli’s latest brouhaha is inexcusable and it would be only right for the authorities to come down hard on him. He has had behavioral issues going all the way back to when he played in the U-19 World Cup and I thought he had his temper under control. Apparently not. I only hope that whatever punishment is handed out it doesn’t affect the Indian team in the World Cup. The BCCI should also take stern action against Kohli because this is not the type of player you want representing the country, certainly not as the captain. The danger also is that Kohli’s behavior will rub off on the other players in the team, particularly the younger ones like Jadeja and Dhawan. The former already shows signs of being a hothead. There is a fine line between playing hard and being combative to the point of being abusive.
Dhoni has already retired from Test cricket and his retirement from the shorter forms of the game is not far off. What he has never been sufficient credit for is his maturity, and the class with which he conducts himself. It will not be easy to replace him. Virat Kohli is the only legitimate choice to replace him since he is probably the only one who is assured of a place in the team based on his play. And yet, his behavior is abysmal. The BCCI better groom others to take his place as captain should he not clean up his act.