Expected result: Favourites to win it all
Actual Result: Winners
At long last, after 44 years of World Cups, England have managed to be crowned the best at their own game. With 4 commanding wins out of 5 matches, they looked set to go all the way. However, batting collapses from their star-studded batting line up left them with concerns, as they lost their next two matches. They were put into a position from where every match was basically a knockout match. But the team took the pressure head on and registered four straight wins, and the World Cup finally went home.
Standout Performers: Ben Stokes took England home almost miraculously in the finals, and his batting this tournament has been sublime. Whether he’s built on a solid start by the top order, or played out of his skin to get England across, he’s been a delight to watch. Not just that, he’s chipped in with 7 wickets, including a 3-for, and also performed some astonishing bits of fielding, like the catch against South Africa.
Jofra Archer has been the standout bowler for England in this tournament, picking up 20 wickets in 11 matches. He’s also impressed with some scorching bouncers and beautiful yorkers, and has threatened batsmen throughout the tournament.
Expected Result: Qualification for semis, but not further.
Actual Result: Runners-Up
New Zealand’s start to their World Cup campaign saw them register 5 wins and a washout out of 6. However, the record doesn’t show the whole story, as 3 of those 5 wins were incredibly hard-fought contests, and they showed great grit to come out on top. However, they seemed to lose momentum, and lost their next 3 games, but still managed to qualify to the semis. From here, they beat a resurgent India and took England all the way, eventually losing only on boundaries scored. New Zealand’s performance was absolutely stunning, and no one can deny that they deserved the World Cup as much as England did.
Standout Performers: Who else but Kane Williamson? Apart from his shrewd captaincy and brilliant tactics, he carried New Zealand single-handedly with the bat, scoring almost 29% of New Zealand’s runs at an average of 82 per game. From a failing opening pair to a shaky middle order, he was the driving force behind their batting, and paved the way to victory with his centuries against WI and SA.
New Zealand’s bowling has been ferocious this tournament, and the best of the lot has been Lockie Ferguson. He’s taken 21 wickets in 9 games, and has been the premier wicket taker for New Zealand when things are going downhill. The bowlers have bowled New Zealand into this tournament, and he’s been at the head of the attack.
Expected Result: Finalists at least, and strong contenders for the title.
Actual Result: Semi-finalists after a heart-breaking loss to NZ.
India’s group stage performance was pretty phenomenal, with the Men in Blue registering 7 wins out of 9, with one solitary loss to England. However, problems were raised regarding the Indian middle order, which were mostly overshadowed by the tremendous success of the top order. The semi-final was expected to be smooth sailing for India, with their poor showing in the warm-up games against NZ forgotten. However, India’s top order collapsed, and despite valiant efforts from Jadeja, they fell just short.
Standout Performers: Rohit Sharma has been incredible, breaking records with his 5 centuries in a single World Cup. After Dhawan was ruled out, the Hitman has risen to the occasion and been a joy to watch. Being the top scorer of the tournament, he’s been calm and measured and has played some incredibly mature knocks.
Mohammad Shami might have taken 14 wickets in just 4 matches, but the standout performer has to be Jasprit Bumrah. He’s been near unplayable whenever he’s been bowled, with his scorching pace and brilliant variations causing all kinds of problems to the batsmen. 18 wickets from 9 games doesn’t do enough justice to the enormous impact he’s had.
Expected Result: Contenders to win, but third favourites.
Actual Result: Semi-Finalists.
The Aussies had a pretty dominant run in the group stage, crushing most teams. Despite their loss to India, they looked in fine touch, and won most matches convincingly. They looked set to take top place in the group, but a South African team fighting for pride knocked them down to second. Confidence was high for Australia in the semis, as generally Aussies are. However, England put up a commanding performance and destroyed them in semis, sending them home on a huge low.
Standout Performers: David Warner was absolutely outstanding to watch, and looked like a player who had never been banned for a year. Him and Finch led Australia from the front, and played some delightful innings. His 166 against Bangladesh was especially a treat to watch.
Mitchell Starc has had the tournament of a lifetime, picking up a grand total of 27 wickets. He is the top wicket taker of the World Cup, and has single-handedly wrecked teams like England and New Zealand in the group stages. In an otherwise weak (comparatively) bowling attack, he has played a key role.
Expected Result: Cause a few upsets, but not make it into the semis.
Actual Result: Came incredibly close, but failed to make it in.
Pakistan’s World Cup campaign can only be described as Pakistan. They beat England, got destroyed by West Indies, and then lost to Australia and India. However, the results of their first 7 matches exactly mirrored their 1992 World Cup campaign, along with other strange similarities that gave the Pakistani fans hope. However, winning their last four matches on the trot was too little too late for them, and they ended up losing out on NRR.
Standout Performers: Babar Azam played some stellar innings to keep Pakistan in the hunt for that elusive semi final spot. His finesse and stroke-play was exceptional, and Pakistan’s hopes for the future are pinned upon his shoulders.
Shaheen Shah Afridi stepped up in the last two matches, but Pakistan’s go to bowler for the most part remained Mohammad Amir. He stood up in matches when the bowlers around him were failing, and picked up 18 crucial wickets to help Pakistan along.
Expected Result: Due to poor squad selection, finishing near the bottom.
Actual Result: Did surprisingly well, but finished at 6.
Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign ended with them in 6th, which seems poor for usual Sri Lankan standards. However, this team is not the Sri Lankan team of before. With captaincy issues and an underperforming squad, they were among the worst teams on paper. But the Lankans did decently, notching 3 wins out of 7. This included an astonishing upset to England and a thrilling win against West Indies. Sri Lanka will look to take positives from their World Cup.
Standout Performers: Sri Lanka’s batting throughout the tournament was shaky at best. But some late resurgence came to them in the form of Angelo Mathews, shrugging off his initial 3 ducks for an 85 and a century. He also took a wicket in the first ball he bowled after 18 months of ODIs, in a fairytale moment that sealed his side’s victory. Avishka Fernando also played some good shots after being brought into the side.
Lasith Malinga might not be the man who bowled at 140+ speeds raining death on the opposition anymore, but he chipped in crucial overs at the death for SL.
Expected Result: To challenge for a place in the semis.
Actual Result: Underperformed, finishing in 7th with 7 points.
The Proteas might not have been as strong as past World Cups, but they were still slated to give the semis a shot and maybe even get in. However, their campaign started with three bleak losses to England, Bangladesh and India, and they never recovered. Further losses to Pakistan and New Zealand curtailed whatever slim hopes they had of qualifying, and they had to settle for consolation wins in their last two matches.
Standout Performers: Rassie van der Dussen played some stylish knocks, but was unable to consolidate on his starts. Still, with the exception of Faf Du Plessis, he was the only bright spot of the South African batsmen.
On the bowling side, Chris Morris took charge in place of a failing Rabada and an absent Ngidi and chipped in with a solid 13 wickets. His three wickets against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka helped South Africa clinch those victories.
Expected Result: A good performance, but not likely to go to the semis.
Actual Result: Finished in 8th, but did pretty well.
No one expected Bangladesh to do as well as they did in the first 5 matches, beating SA and WI and giving New Zealand a run for their money as well. However, their overall lack of quality caught up to them, as they lost the last three matches to Australia, India and Pakistan, and eventually ending up in 8th place. However, there was one bright spot…
Standout Performers: When Shakib Al Hasan was at the crease, Bangladesh had no fears. He was absolutely phenomenal throughout the group stage, decimating every type of bowler. He played 8 matches and had 7 50+ scores, and steered Bangladesh to victory in emphatic fashion against the Windies. Not only this, he also picked up 11 wickets in 8 matches, cementing his place as the top all-rounder of the world.
Mustafizur Rahman was expensive, but his wicket taking skills shone as he picked up 20 wickets. His off cutters at the death got many batsmen dismissed, and he will look to build on this performance and smooth out his bowling.
Expected Result: Looked explosive and threatening, but lacked stability.
Actual Result: A tame 9th place finish, despite some close matches.
West Indies weren’t the best team on paper, but all that was put to the bed during the warm-ups, when they decimated NZ by scoring 421. They started their World Cup with a commanding win over Pakistan, but things slowly started going downhill as cracks in their line-ups were exposed. They only managed to notch a win against Afghanistan after, despite getting maddeningly close to wins against Australia and New Zealand, and folded to 9th.
Standout Performers: Nicolas Pooran had a stellar tournament, and played some decent knocks. He however couldn’t build on a lot of his starts, but the 23-year old showed promise for the Gayle-less future of the Windies.
The Windies bowling was erratic at best, but Sheldon Cottrell was the best among them, picking up 11 wickets. But he stood out more for his outstanding fielding skills, and performed some amazing runouts and a stunning catch against Australia.
Expected Result: Not come close to qualifying.
Actual Result: Last place, but a bit unlucky to not win a single match.
Afghanistan’s campaign was nothing short of misery. Though they beat Pakistan in the warm-ups, they faced crushing defeats from most teams, and when they got close, they just couldn’t get it done. Afghanistan’s cricket story has been nothing short of inspiring, and hopefully they’ll bounce back from this dismal campaign and get back to winning ways.
Standout Performances: Afghanistan faced failures from all around, from their standout bowlers to their batsmen faltering. Mujeeb did decently well as far as bowling was concerned, but overall the team lacked confidence and had no clear standouts. Rahmat Shah top-scored in the tournament, but even he looked shaky at best.