Just when the cricketing pundits were busy predicting New Zealand as frontrunners for the World Cup; a warm-up match saw minnows Zimbabwe reduce the Black Caps to a meagre 157 for 7 in a rained-out match. And just when the thought of getting carried away might have addicted the Zimbabweans, they did the unthinkable by beating 1996 World Champions Sri Lanka in their second warm-up match. Led by Hamilton Masakadza unbeaten innings of 117 from 119 balls, the African nation made merry of the target as they chased 281 in mere 45.2 overs.
After slipping to 35 for 2, Brendan Taylor (63) put up an unbroken 119-run partnership with Sean Williams (51) to give Zimbabwe a morale-boosting victory. Furthermore, Ireland defied their critics by showing a performance of grit and determination as they beat Test regulars, Bangladesh. Ireland’s John Mooney and Max Sorensen took three wickets each as Bangladesh, were bowled out for 189. Irish batsman Andrew Balbirnie’s unbeaten 63 and Ed Joyce’s 47 led Ireland to victory, reaching 190 for 6 in the 47th overs.
Not to forget, West Indies were too given a scare by the Scots as the latter went on to lose by mere 3 runs as they came close of 313 set by the Caribbean’s. Even though these were just warm-up matches, there are signs that the likes of Zimbabwe and Ireland cannot be taken lightly. Over the years, World Cup has seen major upsets with the 2007 World Cup being the most notable one. The likes of India and Pakistan were upstaged by Bangladesh and Ireland as for the first time, Asian giants did not progress further.
More so, with the current format more suited to batsmen, there’s every chance that these minnow teams won’t be fazed by the score of 300 or more.