Upset – An arguably imprecise term used to describe an event wherein a tame minnow takes on a virtually unbeatable behemoth, and comes out victorious. The last three ICC cricket World Cups have shown us a number of such ‘upsets’. And these victories have by now created a sense of caution in top rated cricket teams, a warning for them to be on their toes when facing teams like Ireland, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Because they may never know when these teams would just take advantage of their ‘minnows’ tag, and pounce on their opponents with an unpredictable exhibition of superlative athleticism. Here’s a look at the so called ‘minnows’ of the World Cup.
The cricket team of Ireland is probably the one team which has created the most havoc in World Cups and taken everyone by surprise. Ireland earned truckloads of respect for making it to the Super Eights in the 2007 edition of the World Cup by knocking out Pakistan, a team that was ranked fourth in the world.
Since then, they have caused major upsets in subsequent World Cups too, by defeating long time rivals England in 2011 and by underlining the West Indian team’s downfall by chasing down a 300-plus target in this year’s edition.
Highlight: O’ Brien holds the record for the fastest ODI Hundred in a World Cup
PR Stirling, Joyce and O’Brien, all three of whom notched up half centuries, are the players to look out for in this World Cup. Especially Kevin O’Brien who has the ability to take the game away from the opposition with his clinical hitting.
The team that inarguably started this business of taking down monsters by showing strength and resilience. As if to provide a mirror-image of the Ireland-Pakistan upset, Bangladesh beat India and they too, reached the Super Eights in the 2011 edition of the World Cup. Over the previous years, Bangladesh have recorded a win against most of the major test playing nations.
Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, and Tamim Iqbal have proved to be pillars of strength for the team. The stylish left-hander Iqbal can run riots and get the team off to a flyer while chasing a target.
Highlight: Shaqib Al Hassan is rated to be the no. 1 all all-rounder in the world.
Shaqib can change the course of the game with both bat and bowl. The Bangladeshis in 2014 annihilated Zimbabwe with 3-0 and 5-0 whitewashes in the Test and ODI series respectively. They have thus shown that they are fast evolving into a force to be reckoned with, and they might just put that dollop of excitement in this year’s World Cup.
Zimbabwe is probably the only team among the bunch that has yet to make a significant mark and one that, to an extent, deserves the ‘minnows’ tag. That this may be a hidden opportunity could be argued due to the fact that they recently were in a position to snatch a match from their fellow African’s jaws in their Word Cup opener.
Having reduced South Africa to 83-4, the Zimbabweans were in an advantageous position, and if not for the heroics of Miller and Duminy, had an opportunity to create a major upset. Even then they showed spirit in their chase but fell 62 runs short of the target, despite the valiant efforts of Chibhabha and Masakadza who scored 64 and 80 runs respectively.
Highlight: Hamilton Mazakadsa is the only Zimbabwean batsman to have two scores of 150+ in ODIs.
But nonetheless, a statement was made, one that announced that they were henceforth to be taken with significant seriousness