Murphy’s Law does not specify something bad is about to happen. It says whatever is supposed to happen will eventually happen.
In the popular sci-fi film Interstellar, Cooper, an astronaut, explains the same to his daughter, Murph. Indeed, it’s a popular adage – but with time, it’s just a watered-down version of the original quote.
“If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those results in a catastrophe, then someone will do it that way.”
The shortened version of the law makes it appear negative. In fact, academic experts say that Murphy did not intend his famous quote to be treated like a warning. Instead, it was just a precautionary warning: if you make a mistake in the machine’s design, then it will get exposed someday.
Something eerily similar rings true for India in World Cup 2023. The Indian team has played well – no doubt about that. But since the scars of the past ICC tournaments are very fresh, there is plenty of tension hovering in the air before the semi-final match against New Zealand later today. We can’t help but think: “Oh God, what will go wrong this time?”
However, is there any Cooper-style optimistic spin to it? Let’s find out.
Top-Order Collapse: Who?
Even before World Cup 2023 began, India’s journey was simply interpreted like this – win some matches, lose some matches in the standard league stage, play the semi-final match, collapse in the obvious powerplay against all the swing bowlers, and then go home.
Those voices peaked during the very first match itself when Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood ended up shooting India down to a tragic 2/3, and that too in the 2nd over. That is literally 2 runs for 3 wickets. Remember the GTA meme? It was a “Ah, s***, here we go again” moment!
But KL Rahul and Virat Kohli played villains. By the time Kohli got out, it was the 38th over, and the duo had already put up a killer 165-run stand, killing the chase. This was not good luck. At the beginning of the chase, Kohli was dropped. But the only blemish in Rahul’s knock was his match-winning six. Rahul later mentioned how he hit the six “too well” for his own liking.
After all, Rahul has been trained for this purpose. He is an expert at changing gears, and he has been on the fifth for the last three years. He has undergone several injuries but has always.
In the 2023 Asia Cup’s group stage, when Ishan Kishan made 82 runs (81 balls) against Pakistan, experts said that he should be India’s first choice in wicketkeeping for the 2023 World Cup. Kishan was not some backup, either. When we can have just four reserves in the World Cup team, there is perfect space for one batter, one all-rounder, one spinner, and one pacer.
As that batter, plus ‘keeper,’ Kishan was given time specifically in both top-order and middle-order positions before the 2023 World Cup. He was also backed, even when he ended up failing.
2019 And 2023 World Cups:
Just like the 2023 World Cup, India has been fortunate, with Kohli and Rohit making it big in nearly every match. But unlike 2019, in the absence of Gill, the Indian team did not actually have to reshuffle their whole batting order.
Considering the first eleven had played plenty in their favorite order – plus, the backup batter is versatile enough to literally play anywhere.
On top of that, Shreyas Iyer’s whole situation was not at all different from Kishnan’s or Rahul’s. Inspite of being the Indian team’s best batter at number four since the 2019 World Cup, there were many calls galore to actually drop him post every knock.
Dravid continued to stick with him inspite of injury issues and short-ball troubles – he kept improving and reposing the faith immediately.
India perhaps had the very best average in middle overs in 2019. It’s almost the same in 2013 – probably better. But in 2019, India played with 7 players in numbers four to seven – middle order – who scored 804 runs jointly at 33.50 on average and a strike rate of 89.83. They used 5 players to reach 977 runs in 2023, at 57.47 and 103.38, respectively.
In 2019, the Indian team needed Rahul/Shikhar Dhawan, Kholi, and Rohit to score major runs in the middle overs. Now, the resources have been distributed.
New Zealand As A Threat:
It’s almost Deja Vu. It’s the World Cup. The semi-finals are going on. India is playing against New Zealand. The circumstances that led to the heartbreak of Dhoni and a million Indians across the world.
Cut to the 2019 World Cup Semi-finals – New Zealand defeated India and qualified for the finals. Much has changed since then, with many players not being a part of the 2023 squad.
It was MS Dhoni’s last World Cup. Most of us had our hopes pinned on Dhoni – after all, that man has always made the most of a bad situation during a match. But the moment Dhoni got run out, India’s hopes for a victory were squashed.
Ravi Shastri, the coach of the Indian team at the time, called it a ‘heartbreaking defeat.’ He later revealed how Dhoni shed a few tears after he got out and locked himself inside a room.
Things were worse for the New Zealand team. At the end of 100 overs in the final, both England and New Zealand scored the same runs. Even the Super Over between the two teams ended in a tie. But just because England had scored more boundaries, they lifted the cup.
There’s No X-Factor In India’s World Cup 2023 Line-Up:
Playing with five bowlers, a wicketkeeper, and five batters looks like you have gone back a decade. It was entirely at loggerheads with the strategy of 2019’s World Cup, where the focus was more on an ‘X-factor,’ whether the X-factor was Vijay Shankar or Rishabh Pant. The idea was India needed something extra, something new, to emerge as winners – to shock and awe the opponents.
That strategy might have worked – who knows? But the absence of an X-factor in the present Indian team’s set-up is apparent. There is no one who can win the game on their own. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It also indicates that there is zero pressure on one young bowler or batter. The eleven comprises players who are good at a particular job and are actually expected to do just that – and nothing more.
Jadeja and Suryakumar’s lack of any contribution before the tournament was also simply tapered on when they got an opportunity against the South African team.
Had Rahul and Iyer not been that good in the middle order, the limelight would definitely have gone to, ‘Oh, what is X-factor Suryakumar doing?’ Now, Suryakumar has given India 2 or 3 big finishes quietly. And nobody seems to criticize or laud because it is his job.
The same holds true for the bowlers. Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah take the new ball,
The same goes for the bowlers. Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah take the new ball, followed by Mohammed Shami’s first change, and then finally, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav finish things off. The absence of the X-factor means that when anyone Sirja struggles for some time, others can step up together.
The Players To Watch Out For:
On the Indian side, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shreyash Iyer, Shubman Gill, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, and Jasprit Bumrah are the key players to watch out for.
New Zealand also has formidable players on the field today – Rachin Ravindra, Trent Boult, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Kane Williamson, and Devon Conway are surely going to put up a tough fight to the Men in Blue.
Murphy’s Law And India’s Semi-Final Battle:
But, but, but, Cricket is life at the end of the day. Anything can literally go wrong – it might go wrong at Wankhede today against New Zealand. But that does not mean something bad will actually happen. It just means anything that can happen will happen.
The Indian team has ensured that there are only a few faults in their structure and as minimal chances of a catastrophe as possible. It does seem like India knows that Murhy’s law also indicates that if you have made sure that only good can happen, then it will.
Oh, by the way, the Google Win probability meter has already predicted that the Indian team has a 65% chance of winning against New Zealand today!