NEW DELHI - After four gruelling weeks, thousands of air miles clocked up and 42 matches played, the World Cup quarter-finals will still feature the world’s eight top-ranked teams.
The first round, as expected, saw Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya fall by the wayside with some hitting the ground more painfully than others.
But, in general, it was business as usual for the sport’s elite sides and fuel for the International Cricket Council who will slash the 2015 World Cup to 10 teams from the 14 who started out on the sub-continent.
Ireland were the only associate nation to defy the odds when they pulled off a huge upset against England in Bangalore on the back of Kevin O’Brien’s fastest ever World Cup century.
It didn’t matter that England went on to lose to lowly Bangladesh or India were beaten by South Africa who in turn lost to England, the big beasts of cricket still made the quarter-finals their own.
Most of the action centred around Group B thanks mainly to England who unwittingly did the organisers a favour by infusing life into the tournament through their see-saw performances. England were staring down the barrel after India whipped up a formidable 338 batting first but skipper Andrew Strauss struck a fine 158 as his team tied the game. Ashes winners England then did the unthinkable by going down to Ireland despite making a huge 328.
Irish marauder O’Brien, with his hair dyed a shocking blend of pink and purple for a cancer charity, cracked the World Cup’s fastest century off just 50 balls to achieve a memorable win.