Sunday, May 19, 2024

ODI Super League: Most teams have all the reasons to avoid marauding India

India makes its debut in the much-touted Super League for one-day internationals against Australia at Sydney. The International Cricket Council (ICc) has made it the qualifying event for the 50-over 2023 World Cup to be played in India.

The dual purpose of the Super League is to make every ODI count as each game carries 10 points, leaving no room for dead rubbers even if a series is already decided. Abandoned games gain five points for each team with nothing for a loss but the home teams will be denied points if the pitch or outfield is found deficient. Similarly, teams will be docked points for slow-over-rates, while tied games will be decided by Super Overs.

The league includes 13 teams of which the top seven along with hosts India qualify directly for the 2023 ICC CWC leaving the remaining five to fight it against second tier teams to make the list of final 10 in the mega event.

The league features nine Test-playing nations – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies – along with Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Ireland and the Netherlands, who made the grade courtesy of their having won the 2017 ICC World Cricket League Championships.

The Super League was launched on July 30 when England faced Ireland but lost one game out of three and then could win only one out three against the visiting Australians. Yet they are at the top of the league table with 30 points out of a possible 60.

The final rankings will be decided on basis of the points earned in 24 ODIs, only three ODIs counted per series of which four each home and away will be designated. It will obviously present struggling teams to pick and choose opponents off whom they feel points can be gained.

Great news indeed for the likes of Ireland and the Netherlands … no offence meant to either but they are anything but a cricket powerhouse!

Where does that leave India?

As hosts, Team India makes the grade automatically. So, no need to look at the points table or qualification race but what, in reality, makes India attractive opponents is the price the TV rights garner for a series in the subcontinent or hosting them. But money matters may have to be put on the back-burner since playing the ICC World Cup is of highest importance for any of the Test-playing boards.

Since the Super League qualifying process, so far, ends March 2022, it remains to be seen how teams organise themselves for the task ahead. Obviously India, being the tough opponents that they are and with no qualifying place to worry about, may hardly be the chosen team to face in the coming 18 months or so in the 50-over format.

The global pandemic has caused the ICC Future Tours Programme into the shredder, leaving all decisions regarding tours and match schedules bilateral. It will not be easy for teams to pick India as their ODI rivals, given the current uncertain scenario. 

And ICC has hardly helped its cause by changing the rules for the Test Championships midway, making boards even more wary of such bombshells!

Ravi Kant Singh is a sports writer, analyst and broadcaster since 1984, having covered a wide spectrum of sports—Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, FIFA World Cup, Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy, to name a few.

While working for ESPN Star Sports, he was a regular commentator for NBA, tennis, golf and many a major soccer leagues of Europe and South America. He has also pushed the cart of new home-grown leagues in India: Pro Kabaddi and Hockey India league, being involved with both since launch.

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