Player of the Tournament
That’s a big prize, isn’t it? We celebrate them as superstars of the World Cups. Yuvraj Singh, Mitch Starc, Kane Williamson, Martin Crowe, and so many others have been immortalised in the legends surrounding the most coveted Cricket trophy.
Also, it’s a big recognition of individual efforts in a team sport and valuing how that individual contribution has helped the team’s fortunes in the World Cup. Even this time, as we near the World Cup final, where the Player of the Tournament will be announced, we have a list of 5 nominees and three wildcard picks whose exemplary performances have advanced their team’s cause magnificently in this World Cup.
The King reigns supreme again
Eight times out of ten, India’s premier batter has scored above a half-century this World Cup and is deservedly the leading run-scorer. He is at 711 runs in 10 innings. No one has scored this many runs in a single edition of a World Cup. No one has batted like this at this level of consistency. He’s already above the World in that regard.
But what Virat Kohli has been able to do the best this World Cup is play the role given to him by the management perfectly. Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma wished for their best batter to bat throughout the innings and be there at the end, where even Kohli could join the acceleration and take the team’s total to an untouchable territory. Kohli has done that on almost every occasion he has walked out to bat.
He stabilised the innings against Australia, where the team was at two runs for 3 wickets in their first game. Then, he brought his chase master avatar, where he’s again the best in the World by quite some distance, in the game against New Zealand, where he saw India through a tricky chase. Against South Africa, he probably played his finest innings of the World Cup on a challenging surface and scored a century.
Virat Kohli’s name would already have been there on that trophy if not for a teammate who hated stumps when they were standing.
Shami, stumps and the magic of strike bowling
Highest wicket-taker of the tournament. 23 wickets in just 6 games. The best strike rate ever for a bowler in World Cups — 15.30. He is picking up almost four wickets every game in a world where you are already in some category of greatness if you pick two. He has the most amount of fifers in a World Cup.
We could go on and on about the records Mohammed Shami has broken this World Cup. But this tournament has been a beautiful setting for Shami’s love story, with the stumps to unfold. He has uprooted them with such skill, such precision and such ferocity that in most of the games he has played this World Cup, the game is over for the opposition by the time his first spell is over.
In India’s biggest challenge yet in the World Cup, and on a batter’s paradise of a track at Wankhede, he picked up 7 wickets! That is the most an Indian bowler has ever picked in a single ODI innings. He is bowling like a god, and it doesn’t look like he’s stopping anytime soon.
Mohammed Shami is arguably the strongest nominee for the Player of the Tournament.
Ro-hitting teams into oblivion
Imagine just warming up with your first over of the game, and you have Rohit Sharma in front of you. He starts hitting the ball from the word go and basically continues doing that until he gets out. His early onslaught has allowed India to have a cumulative run rate of 6.9 in the first 10 overs, along with averaging 68.7 runs/wicket in this phase. No other team in the World Cup has such an astounding powerplay record.
What it has allowed India is that run-scoring at a very high pace in the first ten overs ensures that the likes of Kohli and Iyer can play throughout the middle overs without any need for forceful acceleration. He is setting the template and serving it on a platter for the other batters to come in and take the innings under control.
Rohit has scored 550 runs in 10 innings, at an average of 55 and a strike rate of 124.2. He has essentially married consistency with power hitting, a task that only one or two have managed to do such efficiently in Cricket’s history. As Somesh Agarwal said in his piece, he combines Sehwag’s aggression and Sachin’s consistency.
Rohit Gurunath Sharma is a strong nominee because of his sheer impact, which might be intangible in some aspects but so far-reaching that it’s hard to miss.
Zampa’s understated campaign needs more appreciation
22 wickets in 10 games is no small effort. He would have led the wicket charts if not for Shami’s otherworldly antics. Australia have single-handedly relied on him for wickets game after game, and the diminutive physique but a giant in stature, Adam Zampa, has delivered game after game.
Australia lost their first two games in the competition against India and South Africa. Zampa took just one wicket and leaked 123 runs in those two games. After that, the Kangaroos have won eight games on the trot, and Zampa has taken 21 wickets in them, averaging nearly 2.6 wickets per game, with three fifers and two three-fers.
In fact, Australia have relied on Zampa for wickets so much that their next best wicket-taker in the tournament, Josh Hazelwood, has eight wickets less than Zampa and is 15th on the list of highest wicket-takers this World Cup.
Just for the sheer burden of carrying an entire bowling attack for most of the tournament, Adam Zampa is a worthy nominee for the Player of the Tournament award.
Quinton de Kock’s magnificent last dance
Sportspersons have a really special relation with their last tournament before retirement. It’s their last chance to show their quality in a game that has been their life until now. It’s an opportunity to depart with a legacy that will be remembered. Because that’s what humans crave right at the end of the day? For people to remember us, acknowledge our worthiness before oblivion arrives?
Quinton de Kock scored 594 runs in this tournament. He had zero centuries in ODI World Cups before this. Now he has four. If South African batting was like a Ferrari this World Cup, then De Kock was its engine. He set the tone for their innings throughout the tournament with a strike rate of 107 and an average of 59.4.
Simply speaking, his batting was one of the highlights of this World Cup. He left the format with enough memories of great batting, and as a result, he is also one of our nominees for the Player of the Tournament prize.
Daryl Mitchell has been an invisible backbone of New Zealand’s batting. He comes in at number four, plays the spinners like a dream, and bats throughout the innings, hitting sumptuous sixes straight down the ground, just like the ones he hit during both his centuries against India. In Kane Williamson’s absence (for the majority of the tournament), there was a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and his 552 runs in nine innings prove that he has performed his role magnificently.
If there were an emerging player of the tournament award, Rachin Ravindra would have won it in a jiffy. Right from the first crisp boundary he hit against England in the opening encounter of the World Cup, Ravindra has been on fire with the bat, scoring 578 runs in 10 innings and being the third-highest run-scorer of the tournament.
His century against Australia at Dharamsala was an innings that showed his maturity, which is well beyond his age. His left-arm spin skills are there as well for the Kiwis to use. New Zealand cricket found a gem in Rachin Ravindra this tournament, and he deserves all the appreciation and attention that has come his way.
Glenn Maxwell immortalised himself in cricket history by scoring a double century with a full-body cramp, where he nailed himself to the crease and swung his bat with zero foot movement. The double century against Afghanistan after his team was 91/7 was so incredible that it overshadowed the fastest hundred in World Cup history, which he scored against the Netherlands.
With 398 runs in eight innings with five wickets earned through his more than just part-time off-spin, Maxwell sure has an outside chance for the Player of the Tournament prize if he performs tremendously in the final at Ahmedabad.
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