World Twenty20 2016 will be over in a couple of hours after the finals between West Indies and England. As far as millions of Indians are concerned, the tournament was over on Thursday itself at the end of the second semi finals match at Wankhede Stadium.
Considering the way India played in this tournament, it was quite surprising that they even reached semi finals. Most of the matches were won with very close contest, sometimes due to mistakes of the opposition, sometimes due to some fine performances from one or two individual batsmen and bowlers. But above all, the wins were due to the “Lone Warrior, Virat Kohli” and some power hitting by Dhoni in the death overs. The closely won matches were exciting but not impressive or convincing. The top and middle order batsmen hardly fired or even gave a glimpse of form.
There was a ray of hope when finally the top order batsmen fired in the semi finals. As usual, Virat contributed the highest. Just when I thought this match may turn out to be a team victory, the bowlers decided to give the match away. Which team can afford three lives to a single batsman, that too through no balls! One of the mysteries that I can never comprehend is, how does a spin bowler manage to overstep the line. Simmons literally lived the life of a cat with so many lives. Every time they got him, he was popping right back like a jack in the box.
It was frustrating and painful to watch the Indian bowlers struggling and being hit all over the ground and over the rope at free will. Surprisingly, the usually outspoken Indian commentators were quite circumspect. Perhaps, the mouthful, or rather tweetful, from Big Brother has had effect on them, when he grumbled how the Indian commentators, while quite generous in praising foreign players, were too hard on the Indian boys.
Virat Kohli was the only saving grace for India. True to his name, he had a grand tournament. All through the tournament, his form was so awesome that, one blogger tweeted “the new Bahubali of India” with a photoshopped picture of Virat carrying the Indian team on his shoulder. Virat was focused, skillful and tactical, especially the way he handled the death overs. Above all, I liked the way he was enjoying the game. His game in the match with Australia was a special treat. Yuvraj Singh too showed some hope, but unfortunate for him, his injury spoiled his game.
Coming back to today’s finals, I wonder how crowded Eden Gardens is going to be tonight considering that people of Kolkata are reeling from the shocking and unfortunate flyover accident. It could turn out to be a low key affair, or maybe not. People must have already bought the tickets for the event. Such is the power of cricket that nothing can deter people from enjoying a game of cricket.
Now, the question, who will be the champion of WT20 2016?
West Indies team has performed well all through this tournament, they bat deep and they have a good bowling lineup. But so did New Zealand. They had consistently outperformed other teams. But in the end, when it came to the crunch game, they choked. It is not the first time that a team choked in the crunch games. How many times we saw that happen to South Africa!
On the other hand, the English team is on a roll, riding high on their resurgence after the poor performances in the initial round matches. Everyone, the experts and the laymen, all had written them off. One expert even bewailed “what can we expect when a team has young inexperienced players”. Such a sentiment was strengthened further when South Africa put up a huge total of 229 in the group match. At the end of that first innings, most experts thought that it was all over for the English team. But, it was not to be!
The top order batsmen, Roy, Hales, Stokes and Root, came out with all guns blazing, doing a “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” stuff. It was a sudden transformation that nobody expected. I am pretty sure that win of England must have left many mouths wide open in wonder and disbelief. After that innings, the English team never looked back.
So, here is my prediction. English team will take the cup!
But then again, cricket is such a funny game, you can never say what will happen until the last ball is bowled. May the best team win!