The world’s most recognised song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ will be an integral part of the cricket World Cup too, starting Saturday. As many as 25 players will celebrate their birthday during the one-and-half-month-long tournament.
Cricket’s biggest extravaganza, which has roped in all the star players from 14 top sides, may well be the stage for all or some of these players to cut their birthday cakes on either Australian or New Zealand soil, provided their teams are not knocked out early from the tournament.
Indian pace spearhead Mohammed Shami is set to celebrate his 26th birthday March 9. With the Indian bowling attack plagued by injuries, huge responsibility rests on his young shoulders.
And the 24-year-old needs to fire on all cylinders in India’s preliminary group matches against Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies to have a satisfying birthday bash.
On a day when Pakistan will face Zimbabwe at the Gabba March 1, veteran Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi will turn 35. It remains to be seen if ‘Boom-Boom’ Afridi takes the Zimbabwean bowlers to the gallows, with his hitting.
Right-arm pacers Sohail Khan (March 6th) and Ehsan Adil (March 15th) will celebrate their birthdays too during the tournament, with Adil’s birthday coinciding with Pakistan’s pool encounter against Ireland in Adelaide.
South African skipper A.B. de Villiers will complete his 31st year Feb 17. The prolific run-getter has been in red-hot form, and it would not be a surprise if he continues clobbering bowlers all around the park.
His teammate and leg-spinner Imran Tahir will turn 35 towards the fag end of the tournament, March 27. South African fans would be praying that Tahir gets the opportunity to celebrate his special day as a member of a finalist side, a level SOuth Africa are yet to reach in World Cups.
Former West Indies captain Dinesh Ramdin will celebrate his birthday March 13. Zimbabwean skipper Elton Chigumbura will be the birthday boy the next day, when the African team takes on India in an important pool encounter in Auckland.
Chigumbura will definitely urge his team to gift him the best birthday gift – an victory over the defending champions. A former Zimbabwe skipper Prosper Utseya will turn 30 March 26.
World No.1 all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh and his team’s opener Tamim Iqbal will cut their birthday cakes March 24 and March 20, respectively.
England pacer Chris Woakes (March 2) and off-spinner James Tredwell (27 Feb) too have their birthdays during the quadrennial event.
Sri Lanka have their left-arm spinner Rangana Herath turning 37 March 19 and pacer Suranga Lakmal stepping on his 28th year March 10.
Co-hosts New Zealand have some of their big boys turning a year old too.
Big-hitter Ross Taylor (March 8), fast bowler Kyle Mills (March 15) and veteran all-rounder Grant Elliot (March 21) all celebrate their birthdays when the tourney would be on.
Taylor, turning 31, will hope to gift his team an easy win on his birthday against Afghanistan in Napier.
Also celebrating their birthdays during the Cup are Afghanistan’s Gulbadin Naib (March 16), Dawlat Zadran (March 19) and Najibullah Zadran (Feb 28), Scotland’s Matt Machan (Feb 15), Irish batsman Kevin O’Brien (March 4), the United Arab Emirates’ Manjula Guruge (Feb 14) and Shaiman Anwar (March 15).