By Suhrid Barua
The World Cup campaign may be well and truly over for the Associate nations, but some the players from the minnows left a lasting impression before heading for their respective nations.
Here’s a look at those who hogged the limelight:
Kevin O’Brien (Ireland): The big man played the most sensational knock of the World Cup en route to scoring the fastest World Cup hundred (off just 50 balls). O’Brien came to the wicket with his side five wickets down, chasing a score of 328 and wriggled his side out of potential disaster with a knock replete with monstrous hitting.
The manner in which he bludgeoned the English bowlers to all parts of the Chinnaswamy Stadium etched in the memories of the Bengaluru crowd. It’s a different matter altogether that O’Brien couldn’t recapture the blazing form in the next five games, managing just 82 runs. But no one can deny that he played an awesome innings which ensured the first and the only upset so far by an Associate nation over a major cricketing side in this edition of the World Cup.
Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands): He was perhaps the only player among the Associate nations who lived up to his billing. A cracking 119 in their World Cup opener against England at Nagpur nearly sealed a win for the Dutch. ten Doeschate continued to prove his value to the side, scoring a fighting half-century even as the entire Netherlands batting surrendered meekly against Bangladesh – before rounding off the World Cup with a scintillating hundred against Ireland. He also lent balance to the side with his useful medium-pace bowling. He used the World Cup platform to show why Kolkata Knight Riders snapped him up for IPL 4.
Ashish Bagai (Canada): The Canadian led by example and shouldered most of the run-scoring responsibility of the side. The Delhi-born wicketkeeper, who gave up a lucrative banking career to play cricket, finished as the top-scorer for his side – racking up 225 runs at an average of 45.00. His unbeaten 84 against New Zealand at Mumbai even raised visions of a likely upset before his dismissal put paid to their hopes. He remained unconquered on 64 to steer his side to their lone win over Kenya at Delhi.
Collins Obuya (Kenya): Obuya emerged as one of the bright sparks of the Kenyan side in this World Cup. He was the most consistent Kenyan batsman – amassing 243 runs at an average of 48.60 to be the top run scorer at the World Cup. His unbeaten 98 against Australia was a standout knock though it came in a lost cause.
A fairly satisfying World Cup for the 29-year-old, who as a frontline leg-spinner grabbed a five-wicket haul and plotted the upset of Sri Lanka at the 2003 World Cup at Nairobi. He has since given up leg-spin bowling and concentrated on his batting – a move that seems to have worked wonders.
George Dockrell (Ireland): He may have just seven wickets to show for his efforts at the World Cup but his performance had enough to indicate that he is one for the future. The 18-year-old left-arm spinner got his wickets at an average of 29.57 and would be best remembered for getting Sachin Tendulkar lbw in a crucial period of the game.
He then trapped Mahendra Singh Dhoni lbw to enhance his reputation as a bowler to look out for in the future. It’s a pity that his World Cup campaign was brought to an end by an injury; he dislocated his shoulder while trying to stop a ball off his own bowling in their last league game against Netherlands.
Jimmy Hansra (Canada): He proved his utility with the bat on more than one occasion at the World Cup. He’s not a big-shot player but a grafter who likes to play his shots once he gets his eye in. Hansra forged a century stand with captain Ashish Bagai which turned out to be a decisive factor in Canada scripting their only win of the tournament. That was not all – he essayed another handy knock of 70 against New Zealand though his side had to finish on the losing side.
Tanmay Mishra (Kenya): The willow of Tanmay talked big-time towards the latter stages of the World Cup league phase. A natural strokeplayer, the 24-year-old showed signs that Kenya’s batting can revolve around him in future. If his half-century against Zimbabwe was a less-strokeful one, he showed the mighty Australians that Kenya has the talent to take on the major playing nations. He slammed a blistering 89-ball 72 – picking out the Australian spinners Steven Smith and Jason Krejza for severe punishment.
(Suhrid Barua is a cricket buff who invariably gets pumped up before every India match)