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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Aussies, Kiwis to duke it out in Cricket World Cup

It was a sunny Thursday in Sydney, with thousands of screaming Australian fans cheering on the Australia Cricket Team as they steamrolled over the Indian players and made their way into the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup.

The second semifinal, which was predicted to be a close match, ended up one-sided as the Indian batsmen failed to make runs and Australia continued to collect wickets.

While most U.S. sports fans don’t know or care about cricket, the sport is one of the largest international sports, not to mention one of the oldest organized ball games in the modern world. The sport has picked up popularity in recent years with a surge of immigrants from cricket-playing countries, and ESPN a few years ago bought the rights to air matches in the U.S. as it bets that the sport will continue to grow in popularity in the states.

In the meantime, though, the rest of the world isn’t waiting for America to catch up. Australia and New Zealand are hosting the world cup this time around, which is held every four years, and the final match on Sunday — Saturday evening for fans in the U.S. — will be between the two host countries.

Australia’s trip to the final culminated in its resounding defeat of India, the winners of the last cup. World cup matches are divided into 50 overs, each of which is six throws of the ball, and Australia posted 328 runs in its 50 overs, mostly thanks to a series of hits to the boundary by Mitchell Johnson in the last stretch of Australia’s innings, as well as a century posted by Steven Smith. India had to reach 329 in its 50 to win, but scored slowly with few big hits. In the end, Australia’s fielding was too much and India, which hasn’t beaten Australia in any matches for four months, lost all of its wickets before its innings was even up. In other words, every single Indian batsman got out and India couldn’t complete its 50 overs.

New Zealand’s semifinal against South Africa, on the other hand, was a far more interesting affair worthy of the world cup. The match was delayed by rain, and New Zealand ended up needing 298 runs in 43 overs to move on. The game was close throughout, marked by good batting from both teams and multiple dropped catches from the South Africa fielders. With one ball remaining in the game, a hit over the boundary of the field from Grant Elliott pushed New Zealand into the final for the first time ever.

It used to be that host countries found it difficult to actually advance to the finals of the world cup, much less win. India turned that over on its head in 2011 when it hosted the tournament along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and then beat Sri Lanka in the final. It’ll be turned over again this tournament, as both the host countries will again play each other to take the cup from India, maybe even leading up to a hat trick in four more years.

Both teams have played well so far, and Indian and Pakistani fans will probably be cheering for New Zealand to take the cup after Australia virtually destroyed both South Asian teams.

“They’ve shown tremendous heart and passion in the way they’ve been playing throughout the tournament,” said Abdullah Mian, a biomedical engineering junior, who said he was cheering for New Zealand. “… They fully deserve to be there.”

For the Kiwis to win, though, means withstanding Australia’s bowling attack, which devastated both the Pakistani and Indian batsmen. New Zealand, after all, didn’t win against South Africa despite S.A.’s fielding, but rather because of it. South African players dropped catch after catch, failing to take wickets left and right. The Aussies won’t be such an easy team to play against.

“Although N.Z. are undefeated and seem like a formidable side at the moment under the aggressive captaincy of McCullum,” Mian said, “… the final is being played in Australia, so they lose the home-side advantage, which has been essential to their success so far.”

On the other side, though, engineering sophomore Sameep Arora said he supports Australia, though he originally hoped India would make it to the final.

“Even though we lost to them, they’ve always been a great team,” Arora said. “I would have liked to see India win because of their victories over the first competition.” India had been undefeated until its loss to Australia.

Australia’s batting is also strong, and despite stellar fielding from India and multiple wickets, the batsmen posted the highest run total in a world cup semifinals match. New Zealand will have to rely more on amazing batting than good fielding to beat Australia — though collecting some wickets wouldn’t exactly hurt.

Regardless of who ends up winning, the final of the world cup is shaping up to be a tense match in a tournament full of tense matches. Fans can stream the match live or keep up with the live scores on ESPN Cricinfo starting Saturday at 8:30 p.m. MST.


Follow Ashwin Mehra on Twitter.

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