The cricket World Cup was a tournament that received as much acclaim as it did criticism. With the competition now over and with India declared as winners, here are my best five performances of the fantastic tournament.
Ryan ten Doeschate
119 (110) and 2-47 vs England
A watertight technique and terrific shot selection from the Dutchman almost led them to a famous victory over England. He didn’t score off his first 12 balls as he calmly assessed the conditions, before smashing 52 off his final 26 in a phenomenally paced century. 292 seemed a stiff target for England, and it was ten Doeschate himself who made it particularly difficult for them, taking two smart wickets to leave England teetering on 241-4, two new batsmen at the crease and an asking rate of 7.
158 (145) vs India
After a long Australian summer, Strauss walked to the crease in the first big game of the tournament, knowing that his team had brilliantly restricted England to the small matter of 338 (sarcasm only slightly intended). The highest chase on that ground, one of the highest chases ever, and the highest chase in a World Cup? Game on. Strauss biffed, bashed and battered the hapless Indian bowling attack to leave England at 280/2, before Zaheer Khan came and twisted the game on its head, twice, in one of the best matches of all time.
113 (63) vs England
Netherlands lost by 215 runs. Kenya by 205 runs, and Canada by 210. Ireland, chasing a record 328 for victory, reeling at 111 for 5, needing 9 runs an over. The death knell was ringing for Associate cricket. The question was whether they could reach 127, and continue the pattern. Kevin O’Brien had other ideas; monstrously ambitious ideas. When he fell, 23.5 overs later, he had scored the fastest World Cup century of all time, pulled off the biggest World Cup chase of all time, and undeniably, the biggest upset of all time. The fiery Irishman’s innings will be long remembered amongst the greatest of all time.
4-28 vs Pakistan
After a career spanning close to 200 (entertaining) matches and 348 (thrilling) wickets, Brett Lee finally seemed to have started to pull up a little, with solid but not sensational performances in the World Cup before the Pakistan match. Australia mustered a very poor 177, but with Pakistan’s poor record both chasing, and against Australia, Lee sensed an opportunity, and did his very best. After beating Muhammad Hafeez with pace, and Kamran Akmal with huge swing, Lee returned in his second spell with a masterclass in bowling, removing Pakistan’s old heads in Younus Khan, and Misbah by tempting and teasing them into nicking the ball through to the keeper. After being injured through much of Australia’s decline, Lee was determined to not let it happen again, unluckily finishing on the losing side.
5-46 vs India
Despite taking 5 wickets on test debut, Wahab was solid but not spectacular in his career up until this game. Skidding the ball through to get Virender Sehwag out LBW, he returned to surprise Virat Kohli with a variation, before bowling Yuvraj Singh with possibly the ball of the tournament, an inswinging, and dipping low full toss that smashed the stumps out of the ground. He then returned again later to get Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a similar ball to Sehwag’s dismissal, before convincing Zaheer Khan to edge the ball to Kamran Akmal. 5-46, on a dry, batting pitch, getting 4 of the top 6 of the best batting line up (and eventual champions) in the world.
Despite saying 5 initially, room has to be made for Mahela Jayawardene’s heroic effort in the World Cup final. A gritty, determined and gutsy innings, played at a terrific pace and with incredible poise , Mahela proved himself man for the big occasion once again.
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