Who will win? Verdict 2019 might be out but India will continue to ask that pesky question for the next couple of months. The season of suspense isn’t over yet. The Anxious Indian will now be worried about the fortune of cricketers who are already in England, warming up for the World Cup that starts in a week’s time. After those one-on-one bouts that only a democracy can throw up comes the thrilling cricketing race.
Like the political debates, cricket discussions too are expected to remain inconclusive till the final at Lord’s on July 14. At a pre-Cup event, the 10 participating skippers agreed that this was “the most competitive tournament in history”. World Cup 2019 doesn’t have a firm favourite, nor an overwhelming underdog. England seem to have finally cracked the 50 overs cricket code. With their T20 mercenaries back, West Indies look impressive, at least on paper. As for South Africa, they have choked way too often at World Cups to freeze before the finishing line once again. Australia look organised, thus are dangerous. Pakistan look unorganised, thus more dangerous. India, under Virat Kohli, with the backing of NRI fans, look capable of repeating the 1983 story.
However, India’s interest in the cricket World Cup goes beyond following the Men in Blue. Most fans have a second team that they ardently follow. And every World Cup has enduring stories of tight games or some miraculous moments that always stay in the mind. With the pitches in England expected to be dead and batsmen around the world in prime form, the World Cup is expected to see a lot of tall scores. T20 too has had a role to play in the increased six count in games. Since the last World Cup in 2015, England has put together a 300-plus score 36 times in just 86 matches. India, on second spot, has done that 21 times. So as the water cooler chats and chai pe charchas around the country seamlessly switch from politics to cricket, they will keep talking about 300-plus totals.