ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Ravi Shastri's dragon-slaying tactics, the power of five and other reasons for India's fashionably late entry

India’s opponents in their first game, South Africa, are already two games (and two bowlers) down. But the Indians are busy grinding it out in the nets. And no one knows quite why? Here are some likely reasons.

Snehal Pradhan, Jun 05, 2019 12:13:01 IST

The 2019 World Cup is already making its presence felt, despite being four teams lighter than the last one. And yet there is no sign of the one team for whose sake a few Associates and one Full Member were told they aren’t welcome. We’ve already seen two upsets, a new bowling trend, and a bonafide Pakistani miracle. But one weekend in, we are still to see India play. South Africa, India’s opponents in their first game, are already two games (and two bowlers) down. But the Indians are busy grinding it out in the nets. And no one knows quite why?

Firstpost decided to get to the bottom of this inexplicable situation, but found only the most outrageous explanations.

Superstars do what superstars do

They forgot to send out the memo. From now on, the Indian team will play their first match of a World Cup only on Eid or Diwali. In line with the two Khans, the biggest names in Bollywood, the Indian team will embrace the overlap between cricket and Bollywood their captain symbolises.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Ravi Shastris dragon-slaying tactics, the power of five and other reasons for Indias fashionably late entry

Virat Kohli's team is the last among the participating nations to play their first game at this World Cup. AP

Virat Kohli is a $180 million brand; Salman Khan, reports suggest, is around $40 million. So this Eid, and every Eid henceforth, we will all watch Salman Virat’s Bharat, now playing at a ground near you.

We were on a break

The Indian team plays cricket for 13 months in the year. The punishing IPL schedule has ground away their cartilages and aggravated their DOMS. Before that, their ringmasters in the BCCI offices made then jump from Australia to New Zealand, and then to all corners of India. Train, play, fly, repeat, and if you’re MS Dhoni, stop over in Ranchi to vote. Having been shipped to England just days after the IPL and forced into blues for warm-up games, a World Cup opener in the first week of June would have seen 11 walking skeletons take the field.

Now the BCCI can’t have their cash cows showing bones. So they decided to pull a few of the many strings in their hands and arrange for some time off for their players by scheduling the first game on 5 June, giving them a week’s time. Like the married couple who honeymoon late, Kohli’s team are actually enjoying their post-IPL break in Tuscany (the only place for a surreptitious getaway), and will reassemble for their first game on Thursday. The ones you’ve seen training in the nets aren’t our boys in blue, but a team of lookalikes (those lunatics who cos-play as players are finally living their dream). Why do you think only Deepak Chahar and Avesh Khan came to the press conference?

Game of Thrones, S7, E4 (Spoiler ahead)

The West Indies surprised Pakistan with bouncers. England surprised South Africa with Jofra Archer. South Africa surprised England with Imran Tahir. New Zealand surprised Sri Lanka by doing nothing out of the ordinary. Batsmen are reading Rashid Khan like a Kindle, and there are now significantly more miles in Lasith Malinga’s legs than there were at the start of the tournament.

That was Ravi Shastri’s master plan all along. Like Cersei watching her enemies finish each other off before unleashing her own dragon-slaying stratagem, Shastri has gotten the BCCI to get the ICC to ensure every other team has their weaknesses exposed, their plans revealed, and their key players fatigued, injured, and in Dale Steyn’s case, sent home before India even step onto the field.

Five is a powerfully magical number

It is. N Srinivasan's numerologist said so. 5 is the most energetic of the single digit numbers, he’s been overheard saying. Always in need of change, which sounds just like India’s struggles with No 4.

Srinivasan had good reason to be talking to his numerologist; this could be the tournament where Chennai’s favourite son, MS Dhoni, bows out of international cricket. So calls were made to some old ICC pals, the Lodha Committee was fed a seemingly well-intentioned idea of having a fifteen-day gap after the IPL, and Rishabh Pant was dropped from the World Cup squad despite having more X-factor than an adult movie. MS Dhoni must begin his campaign on the 5th of June; not a day early, not a day late. Only then will he hit the winning runs on the 14th of July (1+4 equals you know what).

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Updated Date: Jun 05, 2019 12:13:01 IST

World Cup 2019 Points Table

Team p w l nr pts
India 9 7 1 1 15
Australia 9 7 2 0 14
England 9 6 3 0 12
New Zealand 9 5 3 1 11
Pakistan 9 5 3 1 11
Sri Lanka 9 3 4 2 8
South Africa 9 3 5 1 7
Bangladesh 9 3 5 1 7
West Indies 9 2 6 1 5
Afghanistan 9 0 9 0 0

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3462 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 4756 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
6 New Zealand 4056 254