Interesting results in a few recent ODIs, as India pummeled New Zealand by eight wickets and 90 runs to win the first two of of their five match series. It’s not entirely surprising when you consider the ICC ODI rankings — India is 2nd while New Zealand is 4th — but what is surprising is how lopsided the two matches were. New Zealand are a good side, and they are on their home soil, one would think that they would put up more of a fight. This is a World Cup year, and to see the Kiwis lose so comprehensively to top competition has to give one pause.
Another result of note was Pakistan beating South Africa — again, rather comprehensively — to draw level in their ODI series. And, again, worrisome for the host nation. South Africa is one of the early picks to finally put down their demons to rest and hoist a major trophy this summer in England. Failing to beat lesser, but still competitive, teams, isn’t going to give people a great deal of confidence that this year is finally their year. (South Africa has a reputation of getting close but never getting over the line. Chokers, to use the American parlance.)
Pakistan, for their part, will be without their captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, for the remainder of the South African tour for, you guessed it, racist comments on the field. Four matches, a slap on the wrist, and back in plenty of time for the World Cup. Pakistan, for their part, consider the punishment too harsh because, you know, he apologized. Nonsense. He should be banned for a year and not allowed to play in the World Cup. At some point, the ICC is going to need to start getting real with regard to how it deals with racist behavior, especially on the field. Cricket Australia dealt out 12 month bans to Steve Smith and David Warner for ball tampering, while the ICC gave Sarfaz four matches and Pakistan were upset about it.
Something’s not right here.
Meanwhile, in Barbados, the Windies finished up their record breaking defeat of England, setting up what should be a fascinating Test in Antigua that kicks off on Jan. 31.
The circus that never ends continues to entertain.