We’re a couple of days away from the finals of the biggest cricketing tournament in the world and for the first time since 1996, the world is going to witness a new World Cup winner. As hosts England gear up to take on New Zealand at the iconic Lord’s on 14th July, the tournament as a whole has been an entertaining watch for the fans except for a few rain-affected games.
There were many stunning shows with both bat and ball with Rohit Sharma, Mitchell Starc and Shakib Al Hasan dominating the charts while the captaincy of Kane Williamson or even the fight of David Warner needs to be applauded. Many opportunities presented themselves to players and while some took them, some didn’t.
On that note, let’s now take a look at five players who deserved more opportunities in their side and could have produced more impact had they got them.
#5 Haris Sohail (Pakistan)
Pakistan’s World Cup was a mixed bag as their rampant bid to make it to the semis after a poor first half of the tournament was halted as they lost out to New Zealand by virtue of their poor NRR which took a hit in their first league game against West Indies when they were bundled out for 106.
Throughout the World Cup, this was their main issue. Barring Babar Azam and the occasional resistance from Imam-ul-Haq or Mohammad Hafeez, they lacked the presence of a player who could provide the counter-punch in the middle order.
However, Haris Sohail was the answer to that question, albeit coming late into the equation. After making just 8 runs in the opener against West Indies, he was dropped from the side. He then came back strongly and played two key knocks to ensure wins against South Africa and New Zealand to keep their hopes alive.
At the end of the tournament, Sohail had scored 189 runs from 5 innings averaging 39.60 with a good strike rate of 94.28. Had he been backed by the side for a longer time, he could have been the player who could have avoided the middle order collapses they had without him in the side.
#4 Kemar Roach (West Indies)
Not many do remember how the West Indies performed at this World Cup because the Caribbean army sizzled at times but barring Sheldon Cottrell’s stunning bowling efforts and athletic fielding, there was not much to savor. After bouncing out Pakistan in their opener, the Windies realized that apart from Cottrell, there really was no one else who could get them the early wickets.
A player with the experience and prowess of Kemar Roach should have been brought into the side much earlier. Roach took 6 wickets in 3 completed games in this World Cup at an average of 18.5 and stunning economy rate of 3.70. Considering that his performances came against teams like India, New Zealand and Afghanistan, his accuracy and discipline was much needed for the side which was often erratic in their line and lengths.
The experienced quick deserved more chances and had he been in the side instead of someone like a Shannon Gabriel or Oshane Thomas, the results could have been much different than what they were.
#3 Ravindra Jadeja (India)
Ravindra Jadeja has been the talk of town after his all-around effort versus New Zealand was a great rebuke to commentator Sanjay Manjrekar’s criticism towards him. Jadeja showed his batting skills as he smashed a 59-ball 77 under immense pressure which went in vain in the end.
Moreover, he was top notch with the ball as he rushed through his 10 overs conceding just 34 runs and picking up 1 wicket. He was his usual electric self on the field and has saved 41 runs, mostly as a substitute, and was clearly the best fielder in the entire tournament.
Such enigmatic presence is certainly desired by the Indian side and he could have been a valuable addition on slow wickets like the Rose Bowl and would have been a better alternative for players like Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav who often underperformed.
He picked up 2 wickets and scored 77 runs in 2 matches that he played and ‘Sir’ Jadeja certainly deserved more chances than he got.
#2 Avishka Fernando (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka had a rather dour World Cup campaign as they could muster only 3 wins from 9 games and were arguably lucky that 2 games were washed out as they were likely to be outplayed in them. Their batting was the main issue as barring Kusal Perera, no player could show enough aggression and players like Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews failed more often than not.
In a must-win game against England, the Lankans, tired of Lahiru Thirimanne’s failure at the No. 3 spot, brought in young Avishka Fernando to bat there. The young gun blasted a 32-ball 49 in a game which they somehow won due to a brilliant showing with the ball.
Fernando meanwhile was in no mood to waste his chance as he scored a hundred against the West Indies which powered them to a total in excess of 300 in their penultimate league stage match, showcasing his huge batting talent. In all, the right-hander made 204 runs from just 4 innings averaging 50.75 and scoring at a brilliant strike-rate of 105.72. Had he been given more chances, Sri Lanka could have definitely had a crack at making the semis.
#1 Mohammed Shami (India)
14 wickets from 4 matches at an average of 13.78 and economy of 5.48. You might think that this team might be unfortunate enough to lose this player due to an injury, but no, he was fully fit and available. Mohammed Shami, who has been much better than Bhuvneshwar Kumar over the last 6 months in ODI and T20 cricket, was used as a backup for Bhuvi and came into the side only when the former was injured.
However, he created such a huge impact that it was hard to neglect him, although India did so once Bhuvi returned. Shami held his nerve to seal a close win over Afghanistan in a low-scoring thriller, picking up a hat-trick in the last over. He rattled the hapless Caribbeans in the next match picking up 4 wickets for 16 runs and followed it up with a 5-fer against a top side like England. He did falter against Bangladesh but it wasn’t reason enough to drop him.
Despite boasting such fearsome stats, Shami was overlooked for Bhuvi underperformed at times in the World Cup. He deserved more chances and should be given a prolonged run in India’s ODI future.