The International Cricket Council burnt its fingers once, and in the present day scenario where television rights account for the bulk of a tournament’s revenue, it is unlikely that cricket’s premier event is worth a gamble.
The 2007 World Cup format is considered the most exciting but the event in the Caribbean fell flat when both India and Pakistan bowed out in the first round in a span of two days, and a mouth-watering Super Eights clash between the arch-rivals became a not-so-exciting match between Ireland and Bangladesh. Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer’s death kept the event in the news, but as India lost interest the event itself died in terms of viewership and gate receipts.
Since then the ICC has stuck to a format where teams are divided into two groups with the top four qualifying for the quarterfinals. With seven teams in a group, teams are more or less assured of a last-eight berth if they win three matches, which the ICC feels will keep all major teams in the fray till the last seven knockout matches of the tournament.
Barring any upset, India are on course to top Group B and hence will be pitted against the fourth-placed team from Group A in the quarterfinals. As both host countries are in the same group and are scheduled to play as many matches as possible at home, the venues for the knockout rounds have been decided keeping that in mind.
Australia will play their quarterfinal in Adelaide and New Zealand theirs in Wellington. England and Sri Lanka are the other likely teams to qualify from Group A. It has been decided that Sri Lanka will play their quarterfinal in Sydney and England, if they qualify, in Melbourne.
Going by current form, England are likely to finish fourth in the group and so India are most likely to face them in Melbourne. The almost 87,000 Indian fans who turned up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the match against South Africa are already predicting Melbourne as India’s likely quarterfinal venue and booking tickets and planning their travel and stay. With every loss by England, the demand for quarterfinal tickets at Melbourne is increasing. The issue is Bangladesh, who have had an extra point from the washed out match against Australia, are fancying their chances as well. They play England in Adelaide next Monday which will be a play-off for the fourth quarterfinal berth from Group A provided Bangladesh beat Scotland on Thursday.
Even though Bangladesh had accounted for them in the 2007 edition where India failed to qualify for the Super Eights, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will settle for Bangladesh in Melbourne than England, who had defeated them on both occasions in the tri-series.
Bangladesh had defeated England in the last edition of the World Cup in Chittagong and Shakib-al Hasan was quietly confident of pulling off another surprise.