It’s raining in Manchester and the weather forecast for Sunday is not good either. There’s a possibility that the marquee India versus Pakistan game at Old Trafford could be rained off. That would be a serious damp squib.
India, though, are in a relatively good space, thanks to their victories over South Africa and Australia. Even after the washout against New Zealand, they are placed third in the table with five points and a game in hand. New Zealand top the chart with seven points from four matches followed by Australia on six.
In a World Cup where every team is playing nine group league matches, six wins all but confirm the ticket to the semifinal. From that point of view, India still can cope with another washout, given that they will play relatively weaker opponents like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan at the back end of the group stage.
But after two losses and a rained-off game, Pakistan probably can’t afford another damp squib. They are on three points from four matches, and if the match is abandoned on Sunday, they will have to win all their remaining games to qualify for the semifinal. Almost an improbable ask for a side that struggles to deal with inconsistency.
South Africa’s case is worse. After back-to-back losses, they are still waiting for an opportunity to bounce back. Their game against West Indies at Southampton was abandoned after only 7.3 overs. The Proteas now might have to win five out six to reach knockouts. England, who want to bring the Cup home, have four points from three matches alright, but given the unpredictable nature of white-ball cricket, a bad day at the office and washouts can jeopardise their chances as well like every other team. If hypothetically, rain puts England and/or India to the precipice, God save the ICC.
That the game’s global body didn’t discuss the rain factor and wet-weather management, as pointed out by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman and former ICC president Ehsan Mani, during its Board meetings close to the World Cup bordered on the inexplicable.
Infrastructure-wise also, some World Cup venues are not up to the mark. Trent Bridge on Thursday was a case in point. A cover to put the entire outfield under wraps, like the Cricket Association of Bengal does it at Eden Gardens, would have ensured some play. Why a Test centre like Trent Bridge falls short of the required standards is anybody’s guess.
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Ironically, the England and Wales Cricket Board has signed a TV deal worth £1.1billion for the upcoming period 2020-2024.