Should India have won the 2019 World Cup?

With major cricket competitions like the Indian Premier League (IPL) frozen by the coronavirus pandemic, and even the next two ICC Men’s T20 World Cups in jeopardy, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on the question – did India deserve to win the 2019 Cricket World Cup?

Team India in the ICC Cricket World Cup after losing against New Zealand

Cast your mind back to early 2019 and you’ll remember that India were red-hot favourites to lift the trophy in England. After progressing through the group stages, India found themselves up against New Zealand in the semi-finals. It should have been a straightforward win for the Men in Blue – but New Zealand had other ideas.

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A stunning, surprising, unexpected win

For anybody that didn’t manage to catch the game, it’s difficult to overstate what just how much of a surprise New Zealand’s victory was. The BBC called it a ‘’stunning, surprising, unexpected win by New Zealand” – and the list of superlatives could have gone on and on.

There’s no doubt that New Zealand put on a terrific display that day before eventually losing to England in the final. But was it a fair result?

Fans were denied a dream final of England versus India by the finest of margins. A key turning point was when Virat Kohli – widely regarded as one of the world’s best batsmen – was called out for LBW after just one run. It was a very tight call which Kohli challenged before leaving the field, and in his post-match interview he was still inconsolable.

“I’m very disappointed,” said the Indian captain. “We played outstanding cricket throughout this tournament.

“To go out on 45 minutes of bad cricket is saddening. It breaks our hearts because you work so hard to build momentum, finish number one in the table, then a spell of bad cricket and you’re out of the tournament, but you have to accept it.”

World class bowling display

A freak bowling display from New Zealand also had a huge say in this result, as Trent Boult and Matt Henry turned in world-class performances, seemingly out of nowhere. An impressive 116-run partnership struck up between Ravindra Jadeja and star man MS Dhoni pulled the favourites back into the running, but it was not enough.

So, how would things have panned out had India managed to overcome New Zealand in the semi-finals? England had already beaten India earlier in the competition, but that was when India were relatively comfortable in the group stages. The circumstances would have been completely different in the final, and most people would’ve backed an in-form India for the win.

There were few that saw a New Zealand victory coming. Most expert cricket match predictions had India odds-on to nail New Zealand. After all, the Black Caps had only ever reached one Cricket World Cup final before – and that was when the cup was jointly hosted in Australia and New Zealand. This was on the other side of the globe, against arguably the best team in the world at the time.

There are plenty who believe that the 2019 Cricket World Cup was India’s time to shine, and that it was more luck than anything that New Zealand wiped them out in the semis. But redemption could be just around the corner; India is set to host the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. However, that will be dependent on whether the threat of coronavirus has passed. Given the circumstances of their 2019 exit, one thing’s for sure – if anyone deserves a slice of luck, it’s India.

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