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The Cricket World Cup is a huge event which happens once in four years. So much so that whatever happens in that year, people are thinking about its relevance to the World Cup.
When Bumrah got injured recently playing for Mumbai Indians, no one (well maybe except the franchise owners) was thinking about how it will affect Mumbai’s chances in IPL. The first thing which people were asking was “Will he be fit for the World Cup?”. In a World Cup year, everything else takes a back seat.
At the start of this year, if you asked anyone who were the favourites to win the World Cup, almost everyone picked India or England. Only the order changed based on where they were from. South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said they were happy not to be considered favourites, so that there’d be no added pressure.
No one even considered Australia. Yes, they are the defending champions. But, their form of late has been very poor. Since the bans on Smith and Warner, they are now playing their fifth ODI series. They lost 0-5 to England in England. Then 1-2 to both SA and India, at home.
In the next series against India, in India, they were 0-2 down. No one gave them a chance to win that series. Their captain Finch was badly out of form. But he had the backing of the coach and the board. And boy, how did they turn things around! They had significant contributions from most of the players to win the next three games and the series. Beating India at home is no small task these days.
Now they are in the deserts of UAE, beating an under-strength Pakistan for fun. But they are also missing at least four of their main players who will just walk into the World Cup XI. Smith, Warner, Starc and Hazlewood. Their captain is back in form with back to back hundreds. And suddenly they seem like they can defend their title.
Are they peaking at the right time? Well, maybe it’s too early to conclude. In the last World Cup, India were unbeaten going into the semi-final. They were in great form, but still lost the semi-final to Australia. Only time will tell whether this form can help to defend their title. But for now, they can start believing.