The T20 World Cup hosted by India this year will be more of an Asian cricket show. All indications are that the Asian cricket teams will come under the spotlight with the Indians coming into the tournament as the number one rated outfit. Sri Lanka are reigning champions and Afghanistan and Bangladesh kept the Asian flag flying by making it to the Super 10 tournament beating all other teams in a ‘league’ which featured several non-Asian countries.
The pitches in India being a bit slow are sure to earn the wrath of teams like South Africa, Australia and England. But that’s the luxury-getting to prepare pitches according to one’s strengths-enjoyed by a host nation. What positives can other teams draw from India being the host? Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi said that he was expecting to ‘find more love in India than in Pakistan and Bangladesh skipper Mortaza aired the views that he was expecting strong support for his team from the cricket crazy Kolkata crowd.
India’s World Cup campaign got off to a shaky start when they lost to New Zealand which offered full of surprises by how finely they read the game. Pakistan smashed Bangladesh in a looked forward to Group B fixture. According to television ratings this fixture had a fare share of Sri Lankan Muslims glued to their televisions given that two Muslim nations were battling each other in a game of cricket.
However, the big game is scheduled for March 19 (Saturday) where India will play neighbouring Pakistan at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. This will be sort of a ‘final’ given the great cricketing rivalries between these two nations. Cricket aside, these two nations have coped with the political tensions that keep brewing due to a border dispute centering Kashmir. This great sport has tried to simmer tensions and sooth mental wounds in both sides. The verdict however is that sport has failed to ease off political tension between India and Pakistan.
Sri Lanka’s struggle to live up to their reputation in cricket has come under the spotlight. Skipper Mathews said he needs just one win to bring back the confidence in the side. But asking for even one win in this tournament is a humongous task. This is simply because the upcoming cricket nations played an exciting brand of cricket in the qualifiers which quickly removed the tag pinned on them that read ‘minnows’.
A lot is spoken about the ICC Cricket for Good and Team Swatch programs, conducted in India concurrently with the World Cup, becoming a source of joy. Asians are known for their warmth. When they breathe out the air of friendship and solidarity even the Westerners get affected in a positive way. Great cricket personalities have taken time off their busy schedules to chip in with contributions for this program. This program, which has roped in UNICEF, is channelling its efforts towards children because the authorities believe they (children) are change makers.
Any event in India that attracts the masses doesn’t distance itself from the glamour of Bollywood. Indian cinema’s larger than life personality Amitabh Bachchan is slated to sing the national anthem for the host nation before the cracker of game – that’s India vs Pakistan – scheduled for March 17 (Saturday). Classical singer Shafaqat Amanat Ali will sing Pakistan’s national anthem.
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka carry Asia’s hopes in the Super 10 segment of the T20 World Cup. The West will do all it can to upset Asia’s dream of retaining the T20 title for another year. There is plenty of exciting cricket on the cards as the 10 teams take us through the World Cup schedule that sees and end on April 3 (The date for the final). The cricket played out there is getting hot and Asia’s heart is beating aloud.