There was this reporter next to me in the media box, typing vigorously on her little laptop between the 30th and 35th overs of the Ireland innings. Her laptop made a strange noise when she shut it down, and then she went on her phone and walked out of there. She came back at around the 45th over and asked, "What the hell just happened here?"
It turned out she had already filed a report of sorts, all about how England had won - and by the time she returned, that report had become fiction, with Kevin O'Brien busy sealing England's fate. She was excited for the Irish, of course, but she also had to do her work all over again as O'Brien led an Irish charge that resulted in the unfancied minnows scoring better against the supposedly resurgent English side than India, fancied to win this tournament, had managed to.
Two World Cup matches at Bengaluru saw teams scoring a staggering 1,332 runs. In the first match, India scored a huge 338 and hoped the job was done, till Strauss and his cohorts worked the Indian bowlers and fielders into the ground and sealed a tie, only the fourth in World Cup history. In the second match at the venue, England piled up 327 and like India in the previous game, thought it was enough - more so when they had the Irish down to 111 for 5. And that was when the game really began, as Ireland mounted a late charge and romped home in the unlikeliest fashion.
"It's a fantastic day for Irish cricket; any Irish sport, be it rugby, football, whatever, any time Ireland beat England its massive," said an ecstatic Kevin O'Brien.
Here's a question for you: What is Michael Yardy doing in the England team? He can't bowl, can't bat, and can't field.
Back to Ireland, who pulled off one of the great heists of the competition - and that puts me in mind of the fact that this is not the first time.
- Zimbabwe stunned Australia by 13 runs in their Group A World Cup match in 1983. Batting first, Zimbabwe managed 239 in 60 overs and came back to restrict the famed opponents for 226. It was also Zimbabwe's first win in an international arena.
- Kenya achieved the impossible in the 1996 World Cup when they defeated two-time world champions West Indies by 73 runs. Lara, Bishop, Chanderpaul, Ambrose and Walsh were part of the team that got blown away by the so-called outsiders. Electing to field first, Windies did well to restrict Kenya for 166, but were folded for 93 in 35.2 overs. Only Chanderpaul and Harper could manage double figures. "It's like winning the World Cup," said Maurice Odumbe after taking three wickets in 10 overs giving away just 15 runs.
- In the 1999 World Cup Bangladesh shocked Pakistan by 62 runs in their Group B match at Northampton. The Bengal Tigers, making their Cup debut, made 223 in 50 overs and bowled out Pakistan for 161 in 44.3 overs to complete the turnaround. Wasim Akram candidly said, "I'm happy we lost to our brothers". How generous!
- After pulling one over West Indies in 1996, Kenya produced another shock of the World Cup with an overwhelming 53-run victory over former champions Sri Lanka in 2003. Batting first, Kenya set Sri Lanka 211 for victory but the firm favourites were bundled out for a meagre 157 runs in Nairobi.
- Ireland caused the biggest upset of the 2007 World Cup when they sent Pakistan home with an astonishing three-wicket win in Jamaica. Pakistan, ranked fourth at that time, could only manage 132 in 45.4 overs batting first. Ireland took only 41.4 overs to fabricate one of the greatest victories in world cricket. The defeat triggered Pakistan's exit from the Cup, and had the unfortunate coda that coach Bob Woolmer was later found unconscious in his hotel room, and died soon after.
- India vs Bangladesh at 2007 Cricket World Cup: You all know what happened there, don't you?
So what Ricky Ponting says World Cup will be a better event without the weaker associate nations, what can you say?
These are the views of the author and not the ICC.