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The last men standing in 2019 Cricket World Cup


Last_men_standing_ODI_World_Cup_Cricket_2019The 50-over Cricket World Cup is the marquee tournament of the game. Started in 1975, the tournament has reached new heights in every successive edition. The fact that the Cricket World Cup is played every four years makes it a rare event in the cricket calendar and in the career span of a cricketer.

In the 2019 Cricket World Cup, there are a few legends who will have appeared in four or more World Cups. This tournament will surely be their last one, and could draw curtains on their illustrious careers. Let’s take a look at the journey of these legends across the many World Cups.

1. Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle, the “Universe Boss,” is one of only two players in the 2019 World Cup to have played in the 2003 World Cup, and the only one to be playing in his 5th tournament. He made his World Cup debut in 2003 and has since been the West Indies’ icon in the World Cup tournament.

He hasn’t always been able to put on great performances in past editions. He has just 2 centuries in world cup. The first came in 2003 and the second in 2015. His lack of form in World Cups is one of the reasons behind the Windies’ dismal performance.

Since 2015 he has looked a completely different batsman. As the senior most player, he has batted more responsibly. In 2015 he averaged 57, his best in any World Cup. He was also involved in a world record partnership of 372 runs, in which he achieved his best ODI score of 215.

Playing his last World Cup at the age of 39, Gayle has struck form at the right time. He was player of the series in the bilateral tournament against England and has said that he will entertain the fans in his last World Cup appearance. Although he has a fragile relationship with West Indies cricket board, he has always taken pride in flying the Windies cricket flag high.

2. MS Dhoni

Dhoni has not made an official announcement about his retirement from ODI cricket, but there is no chance that he will play the next World Cup as he will turn 38 during the current tournament. Dhoni’s World Cup journey started at Indian cricket’s lowest point - losing to Bangladesh in 2007 and getting knocked out in group stage itself. Dhoni averaged below 10 in that tournament and was one of the players who was severely criticised, with some fans pelting stones at his house.

By 2011, a lot had changed. Dhoni had won the 2007 World T20 for India as captain and Indians were hoping for the same in 2011. He rose to the occasion and brought the World Cup home after 28 years, finishing the campaign in style, with a six. He averaged 48 in the tournament, including his match-winning knock of 91* in the final, when India needed it the most. In 2015, Dhoni managed to take India to the semi-final.

Dhoni has become a specialist as a finisher & wicketkeeper. He has peaked at the right time in the IPL. MS Dhoni’s finishing knocks will be required for India when chasing big totals.

3. Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga has been a torchbearer for Sri Lankan cricket around the globe. His time at the World Cup started on a high in 2007. He was the 5th highest wicket taker in that edition, with 18 wickets from 8 matches. The highlight was 4 wickets in 4 balls against South Africa. He played a crucial role in helping Sri Lanka reach the final.

In 2011, he took a hat-trick against Kenya to become the only bowler with two World Cup hat-tricks. He ended up with 13 wickets while being economical in the death overs, which helped the co-hosts once again reach the final.

By 2015, Malinga had become a cult figure not only in Sri Lanka, but all across the globe. He led Sri Lanka’s bowling attack and played all seven matches, taking 12 wickets with an economy of 5.56.

Since then, Malinga has had a contentious relationship with the Sri Lankan cricket board. He played in various T20 leagues across the globe, neglecting domestic tournaments in Sri Lanka. The board objected to this. However, as the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England approached, Sri Lanka’s abysmal performance in ODIs triggered Malinga’s return to national side. Malinga responded positively, flying back midway through his IPL campaign. Just 12 hours after landing, he took a career-best 7 wickets for Galle.

Malinga has already expressed his desire to retire after the 2020 World T20. Thus, this is definitively the last time he will appear for Sri Lanka in the 50-over World Cup.

4. Mashrafe Mortaza

From minnows to winning everyone’s hearts to World Cup dark horses- Bangladesh has evolved at every edition of the World Cup. Mashrafe started in 2003 and missed out on the 2011 World Cup, but he has been instrumental part of this journey. Although he hasn’t performed very well in this World Cup, his experience has always helped Bangladesh’s young players.

He took more responsibility on his shoulders since 2010, when he was first named Bangladesh’s captain, and has been their regular captain since 2014. He bowls in the crucial death overs and also plays a part with a bat. Under his captaincy, Bangladesh managed to reach the semi-final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, which was also played in England.

With 3 wins so far in the ongoing tournament, Bangladesh will fancy themselves to go even further this time and win the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

5. Ross Taylor

The Kiwi batsman began his World Cup campaign in 2007, just one year after his international debut. His World Cup record has been inconsistent, poor one tournament and spectacular the next. He failed to make a mark in 2007, scoring only 107 runs at a meagre average of 17.83. By 2011, most of the other senior players had retired and Taylor was New Zealand’s most prolific batsman when they started their campaign.

Rock solid in the middle order, he ended up as New Zealand’s highest run scorer, amassing 324 runs from 8 matches at an average of 64.80 with a remarkable innings of 131* against Pakistan. Although New Zealand lost against Sri Lanka in the semi-final, Taylor was their performer of the tournament.

In 2015, New Zealand had their best chance of winning the World Cup. They reached the final but lost to arch-rivals Australia. Taylor’s form was a disappointment. As the other batsmen put runs on the board, Taylor averaged just 31.

In the 2019 World Cup, Taylor is the most senior player in his team. Having played county cricket for Durham, he has plenty of experience playing in English conditions. It will be interesting to see if he gets into form like he did in 2011, which could take New Zealand all the way.

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