From Virat Kohli’s Masterclass To ‘Spirit Of Cricket’ Debate, Five Takeaways From Cricket World Cup 2023 League Stage

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 league stage concluded with India’s commanding 160-run victory over the Netherlands. One of the noteworthy aspects of the World Cup so far has been the Indian cricket team’s dominance. Here, we explore five key observations from the league stage.

1. Virat Kohli’s masterclass

Virat Kohli, at the age of 35, might be playing in his final ODI World Cup and the Indian batter seems determined to leave a lasting impression. The former India captain concluded the group stage as the leading run-scorer with 594 runs in nine matches, boasting an impressive average of 99. He scored seven 50-plus scores in nine matches.

Kohli began the campaign by steering India to victories against Australia and Afghanistan, solidifying his reputation as the ‘Chase-Master’ with scores of 85 and an unbeaten 55. Demonstrating his batting prowess, he exhibited his class against Bangladesh and New Zealand, hitting a 103-not out and 95, respectively.

The batting stalwart has consistently shouldered the responsibility of setting imposing totals for India when batting first. Moreover, he also played pivotal roles as an anchor batter on multiple occasions.

Kohli conjured a composed innings on a slow, two-paced Eden Gardens pitch against South Africa. Under pressure, Kohli showcased his temperament and experience, ultimately unleashing a flurry of shots at the end for an unbeaten century.

Beyond his batting prowess, Kohli displayed his all-round skills by contributing with the ball, claiming a wicket against the Dutch team and entertaining the fans at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

2. Australia’s resilience

The Australian cricket team got off to a poor start with rare back-to-back defeats in the World Cup. Not many expected the Aussies to make it to the knockout stage after heavy defeats against hosts India and South Africa. However, the five-time ODI world champions showcased resilience and stitched a seven-match winning streak to seal a berth in the top four.

En route to the semi-finals, the Australians created history by defeating the Dutch team by 309 runs, recording the highest-ever win by runs in the Cricket World Cup. Overcoming the early setbacks, the side led by Pat Cummins has gained considerable momentum heading into the semi-finals against South Africa at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.

As they prepare for the upcoming match, the Australian team has emerged as strong contenders to lift the trophy for the sixth time.

3. Afghanistan and Netherlands, the surprise packages

Afghanistan and the Netherlands exceeded expectations by punching over their weight in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. The Afghanistan cricket team’s unexpected success in the tournament, securing a sixth-place finish with four victories in nine matches, took many by surprise.

They earned the reputation of ‘giant-killers’ by stunning the 2019 champions England, as well as securing victories against formidable opponents like Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Despite a narrow loss to Australia, due to Glenn Maxwell’s outstanding performance, Afghanistan has demonstrated that their ascent in the cricketing world is the result of dedicated hard work and determination.

Similarly, the Dutch cricket team, operating with limited resources and infrastructure, made a significant impact on the grand stage. Their 38-run victory over South Africa stunned the cricket world and forced the higher-ranked teams to take note of their competitive spirit. Later in the tournament, they got the better of Bangladesh by 87 runs. Though the Dutch finished at the bottom of the points table with four points. The team surprised everyone with their abilities in the tournament.

4. England, the worst defending champions

In recent years, English cricket has enjoyed a period of considerable success. Since Eoin Morgan led the England team to victory over New Zealand in the 2019 ODI World Cup final, they have continued their upward trajectory by clinching the 2022 T20 World Cup and asserting dominance in Test cricket with the ‘Bazball’ approach.

However, the current team, which entered the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 as defending champions, experienced a tumultuous campaign. Winning only three out of nine matches, the Jos Buttler-led side concluded the tournament with a seventh-place finish. At one stage, England found themselves at the bottom of the table after a string of five consecutive losses. However, victories over the Netherlands and Pakistan in their final group games ensured they finished in the top eight and secured a spot in the 2025 Champions Trophy.

The performance displayed by the England team in this competition stands out as one of the poorest by defending champions in the quadrennial spectacle.

5. The Spirit of Cricket, the debate

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 showcased exceptional performances. Still, the tournament faced a shadow of controversy stemming from a ‘timed out’ dismissal in the Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka match.

In a historic incident, Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews became the first batsman to be dismissed ‘timed out’ after an appeal by Bangladesh’s captain, Shakib Al Hasan. Mathews had reached the crease five seconds before the two-minute deadline but couldn’t take guard due to a broken strap on his helmet.

Bangladesh team appealed against the delay and the umpires declared Mathews out, triggering a debate over the Spirit of Cricket.

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