While America prepares for another baseball season, much of the wider world only had eyes for the Cricket World Cup on Wednesday as rivals India and Pakistan faced off. And it was the home team Indians who won and will face Sri Lanka in Saturday’s final. (via Global Spin)
Here was a game which was about far more than the sport being played between the 22 men on the field. Not only was this possibly the most-viewed cricket match in history (a conservative estimate would suggest that many hundreds of millions were watching) but, from a political perspective, both nation’s Prime Ministers were in attendance and sat next to each other, which led to the inevitable claims of “cricket diplomacy.” And there’s definite merit to that idea, as TIME’s Omar Waraich and Jyoti Thottham expound upon in far greater detail.
(More on TIME.com: See pictures of the legends of cricket)
As for the sport, India won the coin toss and batted first. They exploded at the outset, racking up runs in quick fashion but a succession of wickets (the equivalent of outs in baseball) kept India in check and meant they posted a score of 260 runs which, while respectable, was certainly attainable for a Pakistani side capable of beating anyone on its day.
Similarly, Pakistan made a positive start in its reply, reaching 44 runs without losing any of a side’s 10 wickets. But a mini-collapse resulted in Pakistan slumping to 106 for the loss of 4 wickets, which is a tough ask in any one day cricket match, let alone the semi-final of the World Cup. And sure enough, the wickets kept falling at regular intervals with India winning by 29 runs.
And so to Saturday’s final, which must have been what the organizers wanted all along, as Mumbai plays host to two of the co-hosts, India and Sri Lanka (third host Bangladesh didn’t make it out of the group stage). Another epic is in store, with the juicy sub-plot of genius Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar hoping to score his 100th century. There could be no finer occasion.