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And the Hosts Conquered

In the year of 2011 and 2015, when the final encounters for the first time saw co-hosting countries contesting each other for the final glory. A flashback at 2011 and 2015 Cricket World Cup.

ST
Last updated: 29.05.2019
2011 and 2015 Cricket World Cup Final | Sports Social Blog

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From 1975 to 2007, Cricket World Cup has travelled to many countries, but it was only in 1996 that one of the co-host countries could win the Cup finally. Except for that, the host countries couldn’t take advantage of the conditions in these years. Then came 2011 and 2015, when the final encounters in both the tournaments saw co-hosting countries contesting each other for the final glory.

2011

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In 2011, after much hullabaloo, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were selected as the hosts for the World Cup. Pakistan, following safety issue, wasn’t allowed to host the mega event that year. Amongst the favourites, there were two host countries along with the mighty Aussies, Sri Lanka, and India. Sri Lanka was considered to be a tough contender followed by the previous performance four years back and India had a team full of youth, leading by a confident and calm Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Team India was expected to cross all the barriers taking advantage of sub-continent conditions. And they had one more guy with full of dreams and passion in his eyes - Sachin Tendulkar. 2011 World Cup was the last World Cup for this living legend of the cricket world to make the most of his last opportunity to lift the cup. So the expectations were high but both Sri Lanka and India had huge obstacles too.

There were ten full ICC member nations and four Associate members (Canada, Kenya, Ireland, Netherlands) participating in the tournament.  Total of 14 teams were divided into two groups. Group A had Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada, and Kenya. Group B consisted of India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Post the group matches, Pakistan were topping the Group A chart followed by Sri Lanka, Australia, and New Zealand. On the other hand, South Africa was leading the Group B list followed by India, England and West Indies. Bangladesh, the third co-host was out from the group stage only.

Quarter Final stage was tough for the host countries, especially for India. Australia, although not as powerful as their golden era, were defending their title. India and Australia faced each other in the second quarter-final and India won the match comfortably. The first QF was between Pakistan and West Indies that Pakistan won with utmost dominance by 10 wickets. The other two QFs saw New Zealand- South Africa and England Sri Lanka tussles. Mostly in an expected way New Zealand and Sri Lanka came as the qualifiers for the semi-final.

In terms of excitement, Sri Lanka has a peaceful SF and they won the match by five wickets to make it to the final match for the second time. On the other hand, the arch-rivals India and Pakistan were on the field for the semi. It was the most anticipated match of the tournament by far as everyone was waiting for the traditional India-Pakistan clash. The match was ironically placed in Punjab, the state which has military importance to both countries. Thanks to a classic 85 from the master blaster that helped India won the match by 29 runs to make it to the final after eight years.

Finally, a classic 97 by Gautam Gambhir, a calculated 91 by MS Dhoni saw a journey of 28 years ending on a happy note. Jayawardene’s hundred went in vain as Dhoni finished the match with a six. It was Muttiah Muralitharan’s last ODI and Sri Lanka’s second consecutive loss in the final. It was also the first time when a host nation lifted the Cup in the home.  India also recorded the highest successful run chase (target 274 in 50 overs) in World Cup.


2015


In 2015, ICC cricket world cup travelled back to down under. Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted the mega event which included 14 teams. Along with the ten test playing nations there were Ireland, Scotland and two first-timers Afghanistan and UAE to add to the excitement.

The teams were divided into two groups, with one group involving both the hosts Australia, New Zealand, and England whereas the other group had arch-rivals India-Pakistan along with strong South African outfits. The world cup started with an Australia-England battle and the first Sunday saw the high-tension clash between India and Pakistan. The fans’ support was at its peak from the beginning.

In Pool A, New Zealand ended with six wins out of six. This included a breath-taking one-wicket win over their Tasman neighbours in a low-scoring thriller. Their Batsmen played aggressive cricket and bowlers like Trent Boult and Tim Southee delivered match winning spells. To add to that, the entire nation supported them passionately.

Australia finished second with four wins and one with no result. Their fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc were in very good form. Sri Lanka qualified as the third team but the biggest surprise was Bangladesh. They beat Scotland and Afghanistan and then in the do-or-die match beat England to qualify for the world cup knock out round for the first time. After a century from Mahmudullah, the much tainted Rubel Hossain ran through the English middle order with four wickets. Pool A also saw the brilliant emotional scenes after Afghanistan’s first win in the World Cup which came against Scotland.

In the other Pool, India were the undisputed leaders. They won all the six matches convincingly and bowled out all of their six opponents. South Africa and Pakistan were also qualified. There was some drama as Ireland beat West Indies and finished with same points with them. However, a slightly better run rate ensured the qualification for the Windies. For them, Chris Gayle became the first batsman to score a double hundred in the World Cup.

In the quarterfinals, Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa had easy wins. Australia started to show their class in a very professional performance against Pakistan. For New Zealand, Martin Guptill scored a double century to win against the Windies and South Africa won against Sri Lanka, thanks to a JP Duminy hat-trick. The most heated match of that round was the India-Bangladesh clash. In recent times there were some very entertaining matches were produced when these two teams met. And the quarter-final at MCG was no different. For India, Rohit Sharma scored a hundred but he survived when high full toss which was caught by a Bangladesh fielder was given no-ball due to height. This generated lots of controversy on and off the field and adds to the tension.

But Australia’s thoroughly dominated performance eliminated India’s hopes of defending their title. Steve Smith scored a century and 80 runs in last eight over ensured India had to chase 328 in such a high importance match. Indians faltered in the chase, after a good start by the openers, Virat Kohli went for one and no one could play the big innings they required. Australia qualified for their seventh world cup final. On the other hand, New Zealand’s win came after a much exciting match where due to the rain the D/L method gave them a near seven-run required rate and finally South Africa born Grant Elliott drove the chase and ensured their win with just one ball to go.

On 29th March 2015, Australia and New Zealand met for the final. After their nerve beating battle in the group stage, fans expected the final to be one for the ages but the Australian players had something else in their mind. They got the charismatic Brendon McCullum in the first over and delivered a thoroughly professional performance. The bowlers were in control and created the pressure. James Faulkner and Johnson took three wickets each and Starc took two wickets to finish with the Player-of-the-Tournament award. New Zealand’s total was 183 and although India defended the exact same score for their maiden title in 1983 Kiwis were not lucky. Steve Smith scored another fifty and remained not out. But most fittingly Australian captain Michael Clarke, playing his final ODI, was the top scorer with 74.

Two back-to-back world cups saw the hosts coming out victorious and provided great joy and memories for their fans. Let’s see if England can make it three in a row coming this July.


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