The World Cup 2011 has been considered the best World Cup eer played with regards to the intensity involved in almost every match, whether it involved minnows or not. Yet, going through the Group Phase, the ease with which Group A produced top four teams, let some conclude that Group B provided the best entertainment and had stronger team. Was it really!!
Both groups played equal number of matches. Both teams had 4 prominent teams, one half-prominent test playing nation (of present and past), and two Associate Nations. Yet while Group A’s mystery was only limited to deciding the ranking of top four, Group B had no clarity on the list of top four teams almost till their last group match.
Group A Result Summary
Group A sent Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand to the quarterfinals. One-time test playing nation Zimbabwe returned from long exile. 2003 World Cup semifinalist Kenya and minnow Canada completed the group. Yet, the top four teams appeared too strong for the other three nations. Even among minnows, Zimbabwe was too strong for Kenya and Canada. And among the lowest placed minnows of the group, Canada easily took revenge on Kenya for earlier World Cup defeats.
Group B Result Summary
Group B sent South Africa, India, England and West Indies to the quarterfinals. The group had Bangladesh as 5th Test playing nations, but were like always considered as good as minnows. Ireland and Netherlands completed the group team tally. From the first match till the last match, all were fought closely, except some that involved below 100 score or below par score by minnows. When it appeared that England or West Indies could be knocked out, Ireland and Bangladesh fell short of the final pumping steam and the top four teams went as predicted before the tournament. Yet, the group matches were sensastional and full of upsets and exceptional individual performances, even from Associate Nations. India and England also played the most tensed game of the tournament, resulting in a tie.
Individuals memorable performances
While Ross Taylor and Sehwag produced cracking tons, Malinga and Kemar Roach took hattricks.
The minnows did product some upset. Ryan ten Doeschate was exceptional with two centuries. KJ O’Brien presented himself as the new hard-hitter on the block. Who can forget Ryan ten Doeschate or KJ O’Brien!!
From Group A except Baidwan of Canada who was 3rd highest wicket taker at group stage, none performed well. An innings brilliance was there. H Patel of Kenya slaughtered the Australian pace battery in a way which even a Sehwag or Dilshan have not achieved so easily.
Group B appeared better Group
Till Group Stage, Group B was undoubtedly the better group and it appeared their top four teams were better than Group A teams. Some went on to add that if some of the Group A qualifiers were in Group B, Bangladesh and Ireland could have easily chewed them and got into quarterfinals.
Semifinal had 3 Group A Teams
Surprisingly in the quarterfinal only one team from Group B managed victory. Pakistan appeared like the best improved team. Other 3 semifinals saw Group A teams slaughtering the Group B qualifiers. Pakistan and Sri Lanka defeated West Indies and England by 10-wickets. New Zealand defended a small total of 212 against the mighty yet choky South Africans. India was the only team from Group B to hold its nerve and defeat another strong Group A team and three time winner – Australia.
The most colorful team of tournament, England faced their heaviest defeat in World Cup. The weakest team of Group A New Zealand thrashed the Group B topper South Africa. West Indies failed to register victory over test playing nation.
Final has teams from both Groups
Ultimately the semifinals was played by 3 teams from Group A and one one team from Group B. The final have one team from both groups, and it is all-Asian final for the first-ever time in World Cup history. Ironically, the teams finishing as number 2 in both groups have reached the final. Sri Lanka finished 2nd in Group A, and India finished at number 2 in Group B.
Overall, it appears that Group B matches were tough, but Group A teams were too strong. Otherwise, there was no reason of 3 out of 4 Group A qualifiers making it to the smifinal. Group B qualifiers were thrashed like minnows.