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Straight Bat: World Cup ends in relief for West Indies and Afghanistan

  • Published at 02:06 pm July 5th, 2019
Afghanistan vs West Indies, World Cup 2019
Afghanistan vs West Indies, World Cup 2019 Reuters

The World Cup is about winning

Neither Afghanistan nor West Indies had anything to gain except for not being the bottom-most team at the Cricket World Cup. The two teams probably battled it out in anticipation of a welcoming farewell from a painful WC experience. 

West Indies, once the mightiest team in the World Cup, lay tattered, the dark horse of the tournament bleached white by reality.  It will be a long time before they are taken seriously again. They spluttered in the beginning and began to die.  Much was expected from Afghanistan with its spinning legion, hard-hitting batsmen, and experience fighting the Taliban. But I suppose it never managed to look challenging and ended as the bottom team despite a close call or two. 

Perhaps the retiring Gayle was the symbol for both two teams.

Gayle, long past his emperor days, was walking into the sunset in glum. In today’s cricket, bravado can only take a team so far.  

"It has been a privilege and honour to represent West Indies in five world cups, but I am disappointed to end it without making it to the final four. A lot has happened behind the scenes to get here and to be here, that has been fantastic.”

A colossus has taken a final bow. Cheers for him but no more humiliation as he failed in innings after innings. Gayle will be around, but his last words to his younger teammates were to get better and more mature.

Too many ‘dark horses’ spoil the race

Much was expected from the West Indies after their home win against England, but that was probably more English than the global perception. The 3-0 loss against Bangladesh before the Cup was brushed aside and their victory against another “dark horse” Pakistan made everyone go on an overdrive.  

But they never won again till today – a few close calls yes, but it was a sad sight to see them sitting next to the bottom team. 

Afghanistan will benefit from the World Cup experience. They will learn to be less flamboyant and be more strategic rather than being an overhyped team that has yet to achieve world class.  It is true they got better as the World Cup progressed, and they were very close to beating India, and got into a winning position against Pakistan, and in the running for the final match, but they lost in all three. The World Cup is about winning. 

One knows they will get better as the bottom team always climbs, but how far is the question. They got better which is great, but the thin line between self-confidence and overconfidence is something they must learn to better distinguish.   

Shai Hope, the Man of the Match, had words which suited both teams: “The tournament was not where I would like to be, I do not think I gave the team enough runs. I would like to be more consistent."

Farewell to both. 

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