The twelfth edition of the ICC World Cup in England & Wales has already started to frustrate participating fans and teams - all because of persistent rain and poor weather conditions. While the quadrennial event has enthralled us with memorable moments this year, its rain-hit ties has equally left everyone annoyed.
As many as four games have already been affected by rain wherein two have been abandoned, one led to no result and another was concluded via Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method. But, it seems there's no stopping to rain disruptions in the ongoing World Cup anytime soon.
In yet another frustrating day for both the teams and fans, persistent rain at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, first, delayed the start of India's much-anticipated clash against New Zealand and, then, forced it to abandoned. In a match that pitted two unbeaten sides in the tournament, India and New Zealand, despite their bid to secure two crucial points, had to eventually settle for one apiece. While the Kiwis remain at the top of the table with seven points, the Indian side climbed to the third, behind Australia (six points) with five points in their kitty.
In a single-group format, akin to the 1992 edition, losing key points, due to rain, could have drastic implications on a title aspirations of the participating nations. And, while rain-hit ties can dent the chances for some of the strongest sides, it can equally prove to be a blessing in disguise for the weaker ones.
For instance, take a look at Sri Lanka. Arguably one of the weakest sides in the tournament, the Lankans were humbled by the Kiwis comprehensively in their opening match. Having lost two points early on, the Lankans found themselves in a spot of bother after Afghanistan bowled them out for 201 runs. But, a rain disruption worked to their advantage and a revised target of 187 runs in 41 overs (D/L) proved a tad too difficult for the Afghans.
After recording their first points in the tournament, the Lankans were surely not the favourites to come out on top against Pakistan. But, again, poor weather conditions came to their rescue and handed them a key point as the match got abandoned without a single ball being bowled. The story of their fourth match was pretty much the same against Bangladesh as heavy rainfall saw another game getting abandoned.
Though some might argue that the Lankans could have defeated Bangladesh in their last match. But, the fact that the Tigers had earlier defeated the mighty South Africans should somewhat tilt tie in their favour, if not completely. So, in four matches so far, where the Lankans would've probably garnered two points (giving Bangladesh the benefit of doubt), rain disruptions have allowed them to secure four.
Now, coming back to India's clash against New Zealand. Given the fact that the 'Men in Blue' have secured wins in as many matches, the rain washout shouldn't really have a major implication on their World Cup title dreams. They already have four points in their kitty and sharing a point with the Kiwis will now make it five with six games still to go.
In the coming days, India will be seen locking horns with Pakistan (16th June), Afghanistan (22nd June), West Indies (27th June), England (30th June), Bangladesh (2nd July) and Sri Lanka (6th July). Out of their remaining six matches, India, given their form, probably need to just worry about England.
While the likes of Pakistan and West Indies cannot be taken lightly, we reckon, the two teams will find Team India too hot to handle in their upcoming fixtures. In the other ties, India should easily see off the likes of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Expecting them to lose to England (quite an ask for the hosts though), India should secure 10 points from their remaining six games - which should be good enough to propel them into the knockouts.
On the other hand, the weather predictions for India's next six matches paint a different picture altogether. Their clash against Pakistan at Old Trafford in Manchester is expected to get disrupted by some showers. The weather prediction for their clash against Afghanistan at Rose Bowl, Southampton is cloudy, with some showers.
Their tie against the Windies at Old Trafford, Manchester might see a rare afternoon shower. Thankfully, there are showers expected during India's much-anticipated match against England at Edgbaston, Birmingham as the weather predicted is sunny and a bit cloudy. The clash against Bangladesh might witness a shower or thunderstorm in the afternoon in an otherwise cloudy day. And, India's final group match against Sri Lanka at Headingley, Leeds is expected to be a bit cloudy, with some showers predicted later in the day.
Well, we can all have our permutations and combinations, but what eventually will unfold in India's remaining group games cannot possibly be predicted - neither on the basis of weather predictions, nor in terms of anyone's past performances. Sadly, just like Virat Kohli & co, we all have to wait and watch while keeping our fingers crossed.