The last time we had two upsets like this early on in a World Cup I predicted them both. This time around, I not only missed both of them but also predicted an upset that didn’t happen (South Africa to beat England) and I’m feeling more than a little sheepish. While it is exciting, and is most definitely good for the tournament, I feel a bit down about getting it wrong. At least Pakistan fans have been nice about it, unlike their Bangladeshi counterparts.
Five Things We Learned:
(1) One upset can lead to two upsets
Cricket is a funny old game, which is played as much in the mind as on the field. Teams who are on a roll can beat anyone while teams who are on the receiving end of a lot of bad luck can do badly. Something people don’t always realise at that this can affect other teams as well. Take the Bangladesh win against South Africa out of the picture and this upset win by Pakistan was that much less likely. It’s like in 2007 when Bangladesh beat India, a result largely due to Indian arrogance and lack of proper preparation. I correctly predicted that one, and then, in turn, correctly predicted Ireland to beat Pakistan, because one fed off the other, as the Irish team acknowledged at the time. It’s funny but Pakistan can thank Bangladesh for this win. While it’s far from automatic, it certainly helped their chances.
(2) I’d do better if I made my predictions hours in advance not days
While I probably wouldn’t have picked Pakistan to win, I certainly would have given them more of a chance had I been able to make my prediction a bit closer to the match’s start. The differing time zones for this World Cup make that impossible. Even better if I’d been able to make the prediction after 7 overs when Pakistan were sitting pretty with no wickets lost and 50 runs on the board. That was when everyone else made their predictions – all the people saying this was not an upset. The same in the Bangladesh game. The only people who predicted Bangladesh to win did so after the match had already started. It’s easier then.
(3) England are not unbeatable but they are hard to beat
They got mighty close here, and good credit to them. With 2 overs to go, England were on target to chase it down, with two big centuries to Joe Root and Jos Buttler but then wickets at just the wrong time shifted the momentum just enough for a narrow win to Pakistan. It took a similar incredible effort by Australia in the warm-up match. They are nowhere near out of the race.
(4) Wahab Riaz has still got it
In spite of defending a huge total, Pakistan still looked like they might lose before Wahab Riaz came in with two crucial wickets at the death, of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes, off consecutive balls, to end the 48th over. Before then, England needed 29 off 14 with 4 wickets in hand and two set batsmen at the crease, both capable of scoring at that rate. While he missed his hat-trick, by then England were needing 25 off 6 with 1 wicket in hand and tailenders at the crease.
(5) Mohammad Amir is pretty good
After Wahab Riaz’s incredible two wickets in two balls, in spite of having a catch dropped earlier in the over, England still needed a difficult 27 off the last 2 overs and were still a hint of a chance, but Mohammad Amir closed it out with some tight bowling that forced a big shot from Jofra Archer, which was caught by Wahab Riaz in the deep. With only 4 runs off the over, 29 off 14 with 4 wickets in hand had become 25 off 6 with 1 wicket to spare and Pakistan’s task became that much easier. To think that these two bowlers weren’t even in Pakistan’s original World Cup squad.
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