• Monday, Nov 29, 2021
  • Last Update : 02:19 am

A World Cup under Covid, let the games begin

  • Published at 09:16 pm October 17th, 2021
A general view of Al Amerat Cricket Stadium in Oman's capital Muscat AFP

The cricketing fraternity will be hypnotized with the excitement of T20s and with four-sixes, wickets, crunched moments and fiercely contested games in the next few weeks

The stage is set.

The biggest extravaganza of T20 cricket in the international arena will commence in the Gulf shores, in the Middle East, this month.

Oman is ready to host the qualifying round while the United Arab Emirates are prepared for the grander super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.

Although a World Cup is knocking at the door, the usual excitement and noise before such a mega event have not reached fever pitch yet.

Maybe one of the reasons is today's world is not like the one we used to know, not like two years before at least. 

We are living in a Covid-19 era where the novel virus has changed the world upside down.

The form of entertainment has changed significantly all over the world, be it watching sports in a jam-packed stadium or enjoying arts or entertainment in a full-house hall or auditorium, and the arrangement and preparations have been changed as well.

The coronavirus, an invisible enemy, is omnipresent and threatening us constantly.

This tournament was supposed to take place in India in 2020.

But Covid-19 made it shift to 2021 and eventually the 16-team tournament was transferred to the Gulf States as a result of a horrific surge of Covid-19 infections in India.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) remains the event host, however.

The ICC said the BCCI and itself had worked closely with host authorities to ensure fans are welcomed in a safe environment and Covid-19 protocols are applied at all venues.

According to reports, 70% fans will enjoy the matches in the UAE stadiums, while Oman will welcome 3,000 fans.

This is quite unusual as ICC world events always pull maximum crowds in every corner of the world, wherever it takes place.

But while the battle with Covid-19 is going on, partially empty stadiums or seats are the new norms at the moment, particularly in this part of the world.

This kind of global ICC event can be considered as the reunion of all the renowned cricket writers from all over the world.

Covid-19 will play a significant role for journalists covering the tournament as well as newsmen who will not be allowed to get closer to the players during press conferences or in mixed zones during matches or practice days.

Probably we will not see a jam packed press box in the high-voltage matches of the tournament as keeping distance to maintain Covid-19 protocol will be one of the major criteria while covering the tournament.

Focusing on cricket, one thing is for sure and that is there will surely be plenty of action as the battle between bat and ball will create high drama in the coming month. 

As for the teams, defending champions West Indies will be gunning for glory again as they have plenty of firepower in their batting lineup.

Current ODI world champions and T20 World Cup runners-up England will also have a shot at the title along with hot favorites India as both of them have good depths in their squads. 

India squad is full of IPL superstars and having the legendary Mahendra Singh Dhoni as their mentor may give Virat Kohli’s side an edge.

The Black Caps have always gone far and reached the knockout stages in major ICC events over the last two decades and will be a competitive side in this edition as well.

Coming to Pakistan, you cannot write off this team as they are the most unpredictable side in the world and can win or produce magic out of the blue.

Recent abandonment of their home series by New Zealand and England might encourage them a bit extra to showcase their talents to the world.  

South Africa and Sri Lanka are going through transition and have limited chances to fight for the trophy.

Afghanistan have been considered as the dark horses in T20 cricket in the last few years but the recent political  turmoil in their country and cricket board, which have undergone Taliban takeover, may hamper their chances in the world event.

As far as Bangladesh are concerned, the Tigers need to qualify for the super 12 stage first.

Yes, that’s the reality. 

In T20 cricket, Bangladesh were way behind when the direct qualification through ranking point was measured.

But recent series wins against mighty Aussies and depleted New Zealand are giving hope to the Tigers fans.

Bangladesh have won nine matches in their last 13 games against Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe and these wins will give confidence to the team to perform better in the T20 World Cup.

But Mahmudullah and Co need to cross the first round hurdle to qualify for the super 12 and that’s the reality check.

Missing experienced Tamim Iqbal might be a slight concern for the Tigers batting line-up but Team Bangladesh have vowed to play competitive cricket in the T20 World Cup. 

Overall it will be a huge challenge for hosts BCCI and ICC to maintain all the Covid-19 protocols and keep the tournaments free from the coronavirus.

But no matter how hard the challenge is, one thing is for certain, the cricketing fraternity will be hypnotized with the excitement of T20 cricket and with four-sixes, wickets, crunched moments and fiercely contested games in the next few weeks.

And that's what the cricketing world is waiting for.

Let the tournament begins.

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