Biryani, fan visas, pitches, hospitality, future of ODIs in focus at Captains’ Day on eve of marquee 50-over event
AHMEDABAD: After witnessing numerous delays, schedule changes and ticketing issues, the 2023 ODI World Cup – one that will decide the future of the One-Day format and maybe even the fate of future ODI World Cups – has finally arrived. The prelude to the 13th edition of the mega tournament saw a warm, light-hearted, at times serious interaction at the ‘Captains’ Day’ event on Wednesday at the Narendra Modi Stadium here.
“Babar, biryani kaisa tha (how was the biryani?),” former India allrounder-turned commentator Ravi Shastri asked Pakistan captain Babar Azam. “I’ve already said this a hundred times. It was quite good. I heard that the biryani in Hyderabad is good. So, I ate it and liked it,” replied Babar, leaving everyone in splits.

Later, batting for Pakistan’s fans to be given visas for the World Cup, Babar said, “It would have been better if we had fans from our side. We will try to get such support in every match, across stadiums.”

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Asked if going into this World Cup as the leader of reigning champions in ODI and T20 cricket puts some ‘heat’ on him, England captain Jos Buttler quickly dismissed all talk about pressure. “I don’t see us as defending champions. We’re very much in the same boat now as everybody sat here on the eve of the tournament trying to win it,” Buttler asserted.

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Curiously this time, there doesn’t seem to be much excitement around the World Cup among the fans – there are hardly any World Cup signboards even outside the grand stadium here. India skipper Rohit Sharma, though, claimed that India’s cricket fans can’t wait for the event to kick off. “Everyone’s quite excited. Even before we got into the warm-up games, like a month back, every time we were travelling in India the talk was about the World Cup. It’s happening after 12 years in India. So, more reason for people to be excited,” said the Indian captain.
With India having just played a three-match ODI series against Australia recently, Rohit wasn’t too perturbed about both his team’s warm-up games, in Guwahati and Trivandrum being washed out completely. “We were happy to get those days off. We’ve been playing a lot of cricket of late. We can’t really do too much with the weather. Apart from travelling from one part to another part of India, there is nothing much we could have done,” Rohit said.

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It’s clear that New Zealand captain Kane Williamson – the only skipper who has survived from the 2019 World Cup – has moved on from that heart-breaking final at Lord’s four years ago.
“I mean, 2019 was amazing. As a side, there were a lot of fond memories and we had a huge amount of fun as well and we’re looking forward to what this one brings,” Williamson said.
In an era of lucrative T20 leagues, is the 50-over World Cup still the pinnacle event of cricket, you wonder. The Kiwi captain’s answer was reassuring. “I still think the ODI World Cup is one of the top events that we can play and be involved in,” Williamson said.

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