The end of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the game’s global showpiece event, has finally come. Hard as it may be, for Indian fans to admit, the two best teams though have reached the ultimate stage of this cricket extravaganza. The final is sure to be a fiery face-off, not only because of the caliber of the two teams, but more so because Australia-New Zealand matches stir up the world sport’s most heartfelt rivalries.
With the two hosts welcoming 12 other countries to the World Cup, but saving the final for themselves, a popular joke doing the rounds on social media is: Both the hosts have qualified for the finals. Baakio ko baulayaa hi kyu. Aapas mein hi khel lete (Both the hosts have qualified for the finals. What was the need to call others? They could’ve plays amongst themselves!).
While having the Aussies in a World Cup semifinal comes as a surprise to no-one, seeing the Black Caps reach the final stage of the coveted Cup, does come as a (pleasant) surprise for many. Albeit, this World Cup their performance has been par excellence and it was widely expected that they’d come this far; historically speaking, it is indeed a surprise, for it is the first time in the history of the eleven editions of the Cup that New Zealand has achieved this feat.
That all the Indian support has shifted to the Kiwis after India was mercilessly ousted from the tournament by their (superior) opponents, Australia in the semifinal on March 26, is hardly unexpected. For a nation which worships cricket, and takes to the streets in fury when the Men in Blue have a bad day at work, the feeling of vengeance towards the Aussies after the annihilation on Thursday, is sort of obvious, although juvenile.
However, such is the madness for cricket in this country that New Zealand Captain Brendon McCullum has been compelled to beseech the Indian fans who are going to present in large numbers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 29, to support the Black Caps.
In a short letter to the Indian fans, McCullum has written:
To every cricket fan in India,
I know you understand the hunger for a World Cup.
And I have already seen a wave of support from you guys towards us.
We need every bit of it and I request your support towards NZ all the way, through every ball, in the final.
It’s the biggest game of our career and over a billion voices rooting for us definitely count.
Keeping all the misplaced hunger for vengeance aside, there is another, more crucial reason, why India should support the Kiwis in the ultimate face-off of World Cup 2015. The Aussies have qualified to the World Cup final seven times and won the Trophy four times. Hence, it is safe to say that they have cricket in their bloodline and are arguably the best team in the history of the tournament. The monopoly of a single or a hand few teams over a sport, however, makes the sport seem impenetrable and less inviting for others. This World Cup saw cricket novices like Ireland and lowly teams like Bangladesh play some world class cricket, that which is befitting of a World Cup Tournament. New Zealand has reached the final stage of the tournament, and winning the coveted Cup would not only be a phenomenal feat for them, but will also send out a decisive message of encouragement to all the countries which strive for an equal status as Australia or India in the world of cricket.
While defeating Australia may have been an unfulfilled dream for Team India this year, for New Zealand it is a real possibility. Having defeated every other team that came its way in this tournament, including the mighty Kangaroos, New Zealand is the team to beat in this year’s tournament.
Now whatever may be the outcome of the match tomorrow, it promises thrill, sensation and butterflies in the stomach to anyone who is watching. While they always say, may the best team win, with an admitted bias towards the Black Caps, one hopes, may the monopoly of a single country over the coveted Cup be broken tomorrow, as it was in 2011, by the Men in Blue!
Image Source: The Viewspaper