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World Cup heralds Festival of Cricket

The 10th edition of World Cup Cricket organised by the International Cricket Council has begun in the sub-continent with India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan as hosts.

India won the opening match by 87 runs defeating Bangladesh at Mirpur (Bangladesh). Batting first, India amassed 370 runs losing only four wickets. Bangladesh trailed but could not get past 283 runs for the loss of nine wickets. India’s Virendra Sehwag was declared the ‘Man of the Match’ for scoring 175, the highest in a tournament opener.

By registering the win against Bangladesh, India achieved a sweet revenge for the defeat it suffered against Bangladesh in World Cup 2007 in West Indies. India was out of that series in the opening round itself and returned home to angry reaction from the cricket-mad public.

India is a World Cup favourite along with Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and England. Although not a favourite, New Zealand will rely on Coach John Wright’s experience as a coach of the Indian team from 2000 to 2005.

On the other hand, India will rely on its formidable batting line-up of Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Yousuf Pathan to get anywhere close to the World Cup.

Fielding and bowling are considered as India’s Achilles with fitness questions constantly being raised over its bowling machine spearheaded by Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel and the late entrant Shantakumaran Sreesanth. India will compensate its lack of fielding and bowling resources through formidable batting.

India will take on England in Bangalore on February 27.

World Cup Cricket 2011 will see 14 teams playing 49 matches. Twenty-nine matches including one quarterfinal, a semi-final and the final will be played in India. Twelve matches including a quarterfinal and a semi-final will be played in Sri Lanka. Eight matches including two quarterfinals will be played in Bangladesh. The opening match (Bangladesh vs. India), was held in Dhaka, while the final match will be held in Mumbai.

World Cup 2011 will show how Cricket’s eventual capital shifted from London to Mumbai buttressing the growing economic trend in supposedly Asian century.

Australia has been the most successful of the five teams to have won the tournament, taking four titles in 1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007.

The West Indies have won twice (1975 and 1979) while India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have each won once in 1983, 1992 and 1996 respectively.

Balaji Chandramohan is our Correspondent based in Delhi, India.

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