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Though the 2015 World Cup has come to a close, it will be remembered for a long time. It was a tournament of hope and belief. Ireland almost reached the knock-outs, South Africa broke their World Cup jinx and India burst through their summer slump with flying colours. It was also a tournament of tumbling records and unimaginable performances, from Kumar Sangakkara’s four consecutive tonnes to Martin Guptill’s incredible 237 against the West Indies.
Had the ICC removed the associate nations this year it would have been a very different tournament. Some of the most thrilling games were between the smaller nations. Turnout might not have been what it was at India v South Africa but for true cricketing fanatics they were some of the most exhilarating matches. Ireland and the UAE fought tooth and nail until the very end and Afghanistan’s Samiullah Shenwari rallied the lower order to beat Scotland by one wicket. Not only did the associates test each other, they challenged the top nations. Afghanistan gave Sri Lanka a run for their money and only a classy century from Mahela Jayawardena helped Sri Lanka pull through. Scotland gave New Zealand a big scare as they picked off seven wickets defending 142 and Ireland chased down a massive 304 against the West Indies. It was a huge step towards breaking down barriers between the test playing nations and the associate members.
The pinnacle of the group stage matches however was between the two host nations Australia and New Zealand. It was not about the chase. It was not about the batsmen. It was the bowlers that stole the show. Something all too rare in modern one day cricket. The entire match lasted the length of one innings. 80-1 was a great start for Australia but it was a collapse from there as the next eight wickets fell for 26 runs. Australia reached a mere total of 151 with Trent Boult picking off five wickets. However an astounding bowling performance from Mitchell Starc brought the game down to the last wicket.
This World Cup will be remembered for more than just nail-biting games. It will be remembered as the year of triumph for many teams. For Bangladesh it was beating England to make it to their first quarter-final. For South Africa it was winning their first knock-out game and for New Zealand it was making it to their first World Cup final. Bangladesh.
Though England had lost to Australia New Zealand and Sri Lanka, it was never expected that they would not qualify for the knock-outs. They had been going through a rough phase in all forms of cricket but in particular, ODI cricket. Eoin Morgan was only handed the captaincy just before the start of the tournament. However unlike Jason Holder who led the West Indies from the front, Morgan was unable to marshal his troops. Nevertheless Bangladesh deserve full credit for the win. They were a young a passionate team and they showed that heart and belief can breed dreams.
The quarter-finals brought out some phenomenal cricket. It was almost clear which teams would pull through the games but that didn’t make it in any way dull. Martin Guptill scored the highest individual score as he racked up 200+ runs alone within 50 overs. Wahab Riaz put on one of the most phenomenal bowling spells in history. It was possibly the most captivating 10 minutes of the World Cup until Rahat Ali dropped that pivotal catch.
The game of the tournament was not the final. The final was in fact it was a fairly anti-climactic end to the spectacular tournament as Australia bowled out New Zealand for 183 and chased it down with seven wickets to spare. It was the first semi-final that upstaged both the other semi-final the final itself. The game between New Zealand and South Africa reminded the world exactly why it loves cricket. It was an unbelievable performance with both teams pouring their hearts into the game. It was one of the most captivating games of cricket where the game went down to the second last ball of the final over. For cricket lovers there was a small hope for a Hunger Games finish where both teams could pull through together. However it was New Zealand with the help of Grant Elliot that made it through to their first final. It was a beautiful end to the game as Elliot gave a hand to help a broken Dale Steyn up off the ground.
Australia won the 2015 World Cup to make it their fifth ever title. They initially had a choppy start as their team changed on one too many occasions. However they pulled together as a unit just at the right time to beat Pakistan, thrash India and swoop in to claim the cup.