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Talking Points- India A vs South Africa A 1st Test in Thiruvananthapuram September 2019

South Africa A’s struggles on their tour of India continued as they were comfortably beaten by the hosts in the first test between the two sides in Thiruvananthapuram. A change in personnel from the ODI’s didn’t really help the Proteas’ cause as they were outplayed in all three facets of the game. We take a look at our talking points from the fixture.

Worrying times for Aiden Markram: Markram, the A side’s captain, and the likely partner for Dean Elgar when the official senior test series begins, made only 0 and 4 in this game. He struggled badly on South Africa’s last tour to Sri Lanka, and long-suffering Proteas fans will be hoping that this India tour doesn’t go the same way for him as it did for Stiaan van Zyl four years ago. Fortunately for Markram, he’s a more natural opener than Van Zyl, and there aren’t too many contenders knocking on the door in domestic cricket back home.

South Africa’s batsmen fail again: It wasn’t just Markram, but the likes of Pieter Malan, Khaya Zondo and co. also came a cropper. Across both innings, no Proteas batsman managed to make a single half century. The highest score came from the bat of Titans keeper Heinrich Klaasen (48)- a man who has seen his international career stall over the last eighteen months or so. Batting has been a serious issue for the Proteas for the best part of this decade, and more so after the retirement of AB de Villiers. The Proteas batting was a key component of their unprecedented success between 2006 and 2014- there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the class of De Villiers, Kallis or Amla coming up the ranks.

No Anrich Nortje in the SA XI and Muthusamy underbowled: Anrich Nortje has a strong case to be in the Proteas test side next month, given that Vernon Philander doesn’t quite have the pace required for Indian conditions and Lungi Ngidi tends to struggle with heavy workloads. Nortje wasn’t even in the squad for this game, and all rounder Senuran Muthusamy, who has been talked of as a potential third spinner option for the test side, bowled just a handful of overs.

Jalaj Saxena makes his mark: Saxena stamped his authority on this game- his 61 in the first innings bailed India out after they were in a spot of bother at 199/7, and also took two wickets in the second innings.

South Africa (164 and 186) lost to India (303 and 49/3) by seven wickets.

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India Test Squad for South Africa Series Announced- Shubman Gill in, Rohit to open?

India have today (September 12, 2019) officially announced their test squad for their upcoming home series against South Africa.

After a mediocre performance with the bat in the recently concluded series against the West Indies, Karnataka batsman KL Rahul has been axed, with the the selectors opting to bring in young Shubhman Gill into the squad. Gill captained India A in their recent test against South Africa A in Trivandrum, a game that was comfortably won by the home side. The India U19 star opened the batting in this fixture, and scored a masterful 90 in the first innings- the highest score by an individual player across both teams in this test.

As suggested by previous media reports, the selectors have also given Rohit Sharma another chance at resurrecting his test career- this time as an opener. The MI skipper is expected to partner Mayank Agarwal at the top Continue reading “India Test Squad for South Africa Series Announced- Shubman Gill in, Rohit to open?”

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West Indies vs India Second Test Day 4 Kingston Match Report September 2 2019

India produced a clinical performance with the ball to crush the West Indies by 257 runs in the second test at Kingston on Monday. The result makes Virat Kohli the country’s most successful captain in the longest format of the game, with this win being his 28th in charge of the side. Continue reading “West Indies vs India Second Test Day 4 Kingston Match Report September 2 2019”

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West Indies vs India Second Test Day 3 Kingston Match Report September 1 2019

India enjoyed another day of dominance with both bat and ball as they closed in on a clean sweep on their tour of the Caribbean in Jamaica on Sunday.

Jasprit Bumrah’s stunning spell had reduced the Windies to 87/7 on Day 2, and it didn’t take too much time for the visitors to wrap up the innings today. Mohammed Shami was the first to strike, with Rahkeem Cornwall only able to fend an absolute snorter to Ajinkya Rahane at gully. Continue reading “West Indies vs India Second Test Day 3 Kingston Match Report September 1 2019”

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West Indies vs India Second Test Day 2 Kingston Match Report August 31 2019

Hanuma Vihari’s maiden ton, followed by a magnificent spell of fast bowling by Jasprit Bumrah, put India in the drivers’ seat at the end of the second day of the second test against the West Indies on Saturday. Continue reading “West Indies vs India Second Test Day 2 Kingston Match Report August 31 2019”

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West Indies vs India Second Test Day 1 Kingston Match Report August 30 2019

Mayank Agarwal and skipper Virat Kohli both scored fine half centuries as India recovered from a shaky start to finish Day 1 of the second test at 264/5 in Kingston on Friday.

India went in with an unchanged line up, while the home side included debutant Rahkeem Cornwall and wicket keeper Jahmar Hamilton in place of Miguel Cummins and Shai Hope respectively.

West Indies Line up vs India in second Test-2019 Continue reading “West Indies vs India Second Test Day 1 Kingston Match Report August 30 2019”

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India T20 Squad for South Africa Series Announced- Hardik Pandya back, but no MS Dhoni

India have officially announced their squad for the three T20 internationals against South Africa next month at home.

The three fixtures will be played at Dharamshala, Mohali and Bengaluru on 15, 18 and 22 September respectively, following which the two sides will lock horns in a three-test series beginning October 2.

The Indian selectors have opted for continuity, opting to keep faith with the squad that did the job against the West Indies in the Caribbean. There is only one change- all rounder Hardik Pandya returns, with pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar making away for the MI star.

Somewhat surprisingly, there is no place for either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal, with the selectors choosing to again back the trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar in the spin department.

Former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni continues to be sidelined from the squad, with the Men in Blue looking to give rookie keeper Rishabh Pant as many opportunities as possible behind the wickets ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

India T20 Squad vs South Africa 2019 Continue reading “India T20 Squad for South Africa Series Announced- Hardik Pandya back, but no MS Dhoni”

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West Indies vs India First Test Day 1 Antigua Match Report August 22 2019

Under-fire Indian vice captain Ajinkya Rahane saved his team’s blushes with a gritty 81 as the visitors finished Day 1 of the opening test at 203 for six in Antigua on Thursday.

The decision to axe Ravi Ashwin, left out in favour of Ravi Jadeja, took fans and pundits alike by surprise. The visitors also chose to persist with Hanuma Vihari, with the Andhra batsman getting the nod at 6 ahead of Rohit Sharma.

India's line up against West Indies 2019 Continue reading “West Indies vs India First Test Day 1 Antigua Match Report August 22 2019”

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Talking Points- West Indies vs India 3rd ODI 2019 Port of Spain Trinidad

Virat Kohli lost his first toss of the tour, but it didn’t stop India’s winning run in the Caribbean as they comfortably beat the West Indies by six wickets in Trinidad on Wednesday. It was another masterclass with the bat from Kohli and Shreyas Iyer as the visitors chased down the revised DLS target of 255 with more than two overs to spare.

Here are our talking points from the game.

The West Indies sorely missed Sheldon Cottrell

Not only has Cottrell been the West Indies’ best bowler in this series, he also made Shikhar Dhawan his bunny of sorts. In Cottrell’s absence, Dhawan made a quickfire 36 that ensured India had a good start to a tricky chase. Without Cottrell, Jason Holder didn’t really have a strike bowler to turn to when he needed wickets or wanted to stem the flow of runs, which made this an easy chase for India.

Another batting masterclass from Kohli and Iyer

They were instrumental in India’s victory at the same venue a couple of days ago, and Kohli and Iyer again came to the party here in Trinidad.

The duo came together with India in a slight spot of bother at 92/3, having lost Dhawan and Rishabh Pant in successive deliveries, but brought the chase back on track with a fine 120 run stand in 15 and a half odd overs.

Iyer hit five sixes in his 41 ball 65 while Kohli struck his second consecutive century as India cruised home in the 33rd over.

Shai Hope’s slow start with the bat hurts the West Indies

We had mentioned this several times in the World Cup as well- Shai Hope tends to start too slowly for the modern game. He made 24 today off 52 balls- effectively eating up a quarter of the Windies’ overs for one tenth the score. He’s a talented player, but if he’s going to start so slowly, he needs to make them count.

Hope drops Kohli catch

Not only did Hope rob the Windies innings of momentum in the middle phase, he also dropped a relatively straightforward catch Continue reading “Talking Points- West Indies vs India 3rd ODI 2019 Port of Spain Trinidad”

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End of an era- Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn retire from cricket

It’s officially the end of an era. With the retirements of Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla, all members of the South African side who scripted that famous series victory Down Under against Australia in 2008 have called it a day.

That Proteas team was also the first one since readmission to beat Australia in Australia, and they didn’t lose a single away test series between 2007 and 2015- quite an amazing statistic given the variety of conditions that prevail in test cricket today. Amla and Steyn were both key members of that squad as was AB de Villiers, who also hung up his international boots last year. Interestingly, the trio were the 295th, 296th and 297th players for South Africa and made their debuts in the same year- will the Proteas ever have a more impactful troika of players in the future? Continue reading “End of an era- Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn retire from cricket”

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India vs West Indies Second ODI Match Report 11 August 2019 Port of Spain- Gayle’s 300th ends in defeat

Virat Kohli led from the front with a masterful century- his 42nd in ODI’s, as India defeated the West Indies by 59 runs on DLS in a rain affected clash at Port of Spain on Sunday.

The Indian skipper also took three catches, including a stunning one hander to dismiss the dangerous Evin Lewis, as the visitors continued their winning streak in the Caribbean. Continue reading “India vs West Indies Second ODI Match Report 11 August 2019 Port of Spain- Gayle’s 300th ends in defeat”

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India vs West Indies 6 August Third T-20 Match Report-2019

Skipper Virat Kohli and wicket keeper Rishabh Pant both scored fluent half centuries as India completed a 3-0 sweep against the West Indies in Guyana on Tuesday.

A change in venue to the Providence stadium- the first two games had been played in Florida, didn’t bring about any change in the Windies’ fortunes as the visitors coasted home by seven wickets.

With the series having been sealed, India chose to give an opportunity to some of their fringe players. In came KL Rahul, Deepak Chahar and his cousin Rahul (the latter on debut) and out went Rohit Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed and Ravindra Jadeja. The West Indies made one solitary injury-enforced change, with Fabian Allen replacing Khairy Pierre in their XI.

West Indies vs India line up in the Third T-20 Continue reading “India vs West Indies 6 August Third T-20 Match Report-2019”

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India vs West Indies Second T-20 Match Report 4 August 2019

Rohit Sharma’s free flowing 67, followed by an impressive spell from left arm spinner Krunal Pandya, helped India defeat reigning T20 world champions West Indies by 22 runs on the DLS method in the second T20 in Florida on Sunday.

The Men in Blue went in with an unchanged XI, while the Windies included spinner Khary Pierre in place of batsman John Campbell. We had observed that the WI bowling needed some strengthening, and their selectors appeared be thinking on similar lines- dropping opener Campbell for an extra bowler and promoting Sunil Narine up the order.

Virat Kohli won the toss for the second game running but this time choose to take first guard. The visitors’ opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma laid a solid foundation at the top by adding 67 runs for the first wicket before the former was bowled by Keemo Paul for 23 while attempting to hoick the ball over mid wicket.

Skipper Kohli along with vice captain Rohit put on 48 runs for the second wicket stand before the latter mistimed a pull and was caught brilliantly by Shimron Hetmyer. His knock comprised of 6 fours and 3 sixes and in the process, he also broke Chris Gayle’s record for most sixes in T20 internationals (105).

 India vs WI Second T20 Lineup

At the time of Sharma’s dismissal, India seemed set for a 180+ plus score, but lost their way a bit, with the next five overs only producing 30 odd runs. Continue reading “India vs West Indies Second T-20 Match Report 4 August 2019”

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Talking Points- West Indies vs India 1st T20 Lauderhill Florida

India’s first international game since their World Cup semi-final exit at the hands of New Zealand saw them beat reigning T20 World champions West Indies in Florida. Here are our talking points from the game.

West Indies (95/9) lost to India (98/6 in 17.2 overs)

Navdeep Saini impresses on international debut

RCB pacer Navdeep Saini was given his maiden international cap today and produced a fine performance with the ball to justify his inclusion. Saini was carted for six by Nicholas Pooran on his second delivery, but recovered to dismiss the southpaw and Shimron Hetmyer in the same over.

He also returned to take the wicket of the well-set Kieron Pollard in the last over of the game (also a maiden), and finished with impressive figures of 3/17. Rightly named the Man of the Match.

Disappointing batting performance from the West Indies

This was a wretched batting performance from the West Indies. They finished with less than a hundred in their allotted 20 overs, and only two batsmen- Pooran and Kieron Pollard, crossed double digits. Not what you’d expect from a team who are the reigning champions in this format of the game.

Windies T20 lineup vs India 2019 Continue reading “Talking Points- West Indies vs India 1st T20 Lauderhill Florida”

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India Squad for Tour of West Indies 2019 Announced- No Shubman Gill

India have officially announced their squad for their upcoming tour of the West Indies. There was talk that the World Cup semi-finalists would adopt split captaincy for this tour, but skipper Virat Kohli continues to hold the reigns across all three formats. A couple of key players have been rested given their workload, but it still remains a very strong squad- certainly not a second string one by any stretch of imagination.

Because this tour comes on the heels of the just concluded World Cup, let’s take a look at their ODI squad first.

What changes have been made from the World Cup roster for this squad to tour the Carribean?

There are a few changes- Vijay Shankar is injured, MS Dhoni has made himself “unavailable”, Dinesh Karthik has seemingly been axed and the pair of Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah have been rested. In come Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey- the former widely expected to be India’s next No.4 and the latter rewarded for a string of strong domestic performances. Navdeep Saini and Khaleel Ahmed are the new bowlers in the squad.

Shikhar Dhawan returns to the squad after missing the latter half of India’s World Cup campaign with a thumb injury.

Somewhat surprisingly, there is no Shubman Gill, but chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said that the Punjab youngster, who toured New Zealand earlier this year, is very much in their plans. Rishabh Pant is also the only wicket keeper in the squad, with KL Rahul expected to provide temporary cover if required.

Kedar Jadhav retains his spot in the fifteen despite not featuring in the XI that took on New Zealand in the semis.

India ODI Squad to tour West Indies 2019

India Test Squad for West Indies Tour 2019

The test squad will be seen in action for the first time since that historic win in Australia. Several “test-only” regulars of the squad- Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma all feature as expected. There is a welcome return after a long injury layoff for Wriddhiman Saha. Bhuvneshwar Kumar misses out with the selectors preferring the quartet of Mohammad Shami, Sharma, Bumrah and Umesh Yadav in the pace department. Rohit Sharma, so prolific in the 50 over format, has been given another chance to add to his 27 test caps.

India Test Squad for WI Tour 2019

India T20 Squad

The T20 squad retains a strong batting core, with Kohli, Sharma, Dhawan and Rahul all present but features an experimental bowling outfit. Both Chahars- Rahul and Deepak, have made the cut, as has Washington Sundar.

India T20 Squad for WI Tour 2019

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Talking Points from England vs New Zealand 14 July 2019- The Greatest World Cup Final Ever?

England ended their 44 year wait for a Cricket World Cup title as they were crowned 2019 champions at Lord’s after a dramatic final hour that saw both teams tied in both regular time and the Super Over, forcing the officials to declare Trevor Bayliss’ men winners on the boundary countback rule.

It was the third successive time that the host of the World Cup had lifted the title, following victories for India in 2011 and Australia in 2015.

The final was a tight, attritional affair, but the end was truly dramatic, and probably catapulted it to No.1 on the list for best ODI’s ever. Certainly the best World Cup final ever, and with it being telecast on Free-To-Air in the United Kingdom, would’ve potentially inspired thousands of young kids to take up the game. Here are our talking points from this epic fixture.

The Guptill “overthrow” that took a deflection off Ben Stokes’ bat

Perhaps the biggest talking point of them all! With 9 to win in 3 balls, Canterbury born Stokes hit Trent Boult to deep midwicket and set off. While the former was returning for the second, Martin Guptill’s throw from the deep inadvertently took a deflection off Stokes’ bat, and went past keeper Tom Latham to the boundary.

Umpire Kumar Dharmasena signalled six runs (2 for Stokes and 4 for the overthrow). As cruel as it was for Black Caps fans to stomach the decision in real time, it was made worse after the legendary Simon Taufel said that his umpiring mates had made a mistake- it should’ve been five runs instead of six, and that Adil Rashid should’ve been on strike for the penultimate delivery instead of Stokes. In another universe, this could so easily have been a maiden NZ World Cup win.

Trent Boult steps on the rope

James Neesham had produced a fine 49th over under pressure, and it would’ve been a match winning one but for Boult’s lapse in judgement on the boundary. Stokes went for the big hit, and Boult claimed a catch on the boundary, but failed to notice the rope behind him, and stepped on it before he could potentially throw the ball to Guptill for a relay catch.

Mitch Santner ducks under Jofra Archer’s bouncer in the final ball of the New Zealand innings

Perhaps not as noticed as the two errors above, but it did cost New Zealand. On the final ball of the Black Caps innings, Santner simply ducked under an Archer bouncer instead of attempting to hit it, and wasn’t even able to run a bye. In a game when there were two “ties”, an extra run might’ve seen NZ being crowned World champions.

Will the boundaries rule be canned by the ICC?

In their wildest dreams, the ICC would not have expected this final to end the way it did. Deciding the winner on the boundaries rule doesn’t feel like the appropriate way to decide a World Cup champion- some would argue that NZ should’ve won it because they bowled England out in regular time and lost only 8 wickets in theirs. Should the trophy have been shared between the two teams? Or should there have been another version of “sudden death” to decide the winner after the Super Over tie? The debate will continue for ages.

Should Kane Williamson have asked Lockie Ferguson to bowl the Super Over?

Trent Boult has been Williamson’s go-to man in the last four overs, but the left armer was slightly wayward today, bowling a bunch of full tosses and length deliveries instead of nailing his yorkers, and finishing with 0-67 in his 10 overs. On the evidence of how things panned out in regular time, Ferguson, with his ability to bowl both fast and slower bouncers as well as yorkers, might’ve been a better choice.

Jason Roy and Jos Buttler hold their nerve

Roy and Buttler were the only two batsmen to strike at close to a run a ball on a pitch where their team mates struggled. But they will be immortalised in English cricket history for their roles in that final ball run out of Martin Guptill. Roy, who had misfielded earlier in the Super Over, showed great awareness and speed to throw the ball to Buttler, who held his nerve and cleverly positioned himself in front of the stumps to run out the diving Guptill.

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Talking Points from England vs Australia Cricket World Cup 2019 Semi-Final 2

England comfortably saw off defending champions Australia in Birmingham to book their spot in the final at Lord’s against New Zealand. Here are our talking points from the second CWC 2019 semi-final.

The Cricket World Cup will have a new winner

Sunday’s final will be between New Zealand and England- two nations who have never won the Cricket World Cup before. We’re therefore guaranteed a new winner- the first such champion since Sri Lanka’s victory back in 1996. Given Australia’s domination of the event over the last two decades, this will come as a whiff of fresh air.

Australia lose a CWC semi-final for the first time in their history

Australia had competed in seven CWC semi-finals before this, and had advanced from all. Today though was a bridge too far for them- with injuries to Khawaja and Shaun Marsh and Stoinis & Starc not exactly 100%, they were no match for England’s power game at the Bear Pit.

Archer and Woakes do the damage at the top; Steve Smith wages a lone battle

David Warner seemed pumped up for this occasion at the anthem and started the game with a beautiful drive for four. However Jofra Archer trapped Finch LBW in the first ball of his spell and Warner followed soon after being forced to fend a rising Chris Woakes delivery to Jonny Bairstow at slip. Finch and Warner had done the bulk of Australia’s scoring in this tournament, and like with India, the Australian middle order couldn’t quite salvage the situation. Steve Smith waged a lone battle and had some support from Alex Carey but Australia could only muster 220 odd on a very good batting wicket.

Jos Buttler’s “nutmeg” run out of Steve Smith

Smith, as mentioned before, stood between England and a quick Australian capitulation, and had taken the visitors past 200 in the company of Mitch Starc. Just as it seemed he would take them to 250, he was dismissed by a brilliant run out from Jos Buttler, with the ball literally “nutmegging” Smith en route to the stumps. Instead of the 240-250 they had hoped for, Australia were dismissed for only 223. Continue reading “Talking Points from England vs Australia Cricket World Cup 2019 Semi-Final 2”

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Fan Analysis & Talking Points from India vs New Zealand- the 2DI World Cup Semi final!

New Zealand advanced to their second successive World Cup final with a stunning eighteen run win over favourites India at Old Trafford. Here are our talking points from this thrilling ODI (or should that read 2DI?) clash at Manchester.

CT 2017 encore for India

Going into this tournament, if there was one ever-present worry in the minds of Indian fans, it was about their middle order, and whether they could handle a pressure situation. India’s top 3 had scored nearly 70% of their runs in this tournament coming into this semi-final but had a collective failure today in Manchester. It was, in some ways, deja vu for the fans who had seen their 2017 CT final defeat to Pakistan. India’s middle order didn’t stand up that evening, and didn’t do so today either.

Martin Guptill’s run out of MS Dhoni

Dhoni is not the methodical finisher he was a decade ago, but still remains a force to be reckoned with. He took the game to the final 2 overs, and swatted Lockie Ferguson for a six over deep cover to bring the equation to 25 off 11. The very next ball, he attempted a second but was run out by a fantastic direct hit from Martin Guptill in the deep. If the ball had bounced before hitting the stumps, or had needed the assistance of the fielder, Dhoni, so good between the wickets, would’ve comfortably made his ground. It was a matter of inches at the end, and with that one throw, Guptill made up for the miserable World Cup he’s had with the bat. If New Zealand go on to win the World Cup for the first time in their history, that Guptill run out will be the stuff of legends, and talked about till the end of eternity.

Guptill Dhoni Run out World Cup 2019 Semi-final

Why didn’t India sent Dhoni in earlier?

Bizarrely enough, with the score at 5/3, India didn’t sent MS Dhoni in, and the veteran only strode to the middle at No.7 when they were five down. His power hitting abilities may have reduced with time, but Dhoni remains a fine defensive player, and could’ve easily performed the role Karthik and Pandya (unfamiliar to them mind you) were asked to. It would’ve allowed India the luxury of another power hitter at the death, and with 42 to win in 4, you’d probably have backed the Men in Blue.

Matt Henry the unsung hero

He’s received flak for his poor death bowling (see the West Indies game) but Matt Henry turned up today when his side needed him the most. He first snapped up Rohit Sharma, the tournament’s leading run scorer with five hundreds, with an absolute gem of a delivery that set the pace for the Black Caps, and also got rid of KL Rahul.

Henry’s death bowling is not his strongest suit, but with India needing 42 in 4 overs with Jadeja and Dhoni well set, he produced a tremendous final over with back of the length cutters that went for just five. It forced Jadeja to target Trent Boult in the final over Continue reading “Fan Analysis & Talking Points from India vs New Zealand- the 2DI World Cup Semi final!”

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Fan Analysis & Talking Points from Australia vs South Africa & India vs Sri Lanka

The group stage of the World Cup came to a conclusion earlier today, with India taking on Sri Lanka at Headingley in the day fixture and Australia squaring off against South Africa in the D/N clash at Old Trafford. Let’s take a look at our talking points from the day’s action.

South Africa’s batting finally clicks, and sends Australia to Birmingham for their semi-finak

South Africa vs Australia as a World Cup clash brings back memories of that great game between the two sides back in the 1999 edition of the tournament.

The Proteas have been one of this tournament’s biggest disappointments, but with nothing to lose, they turned the tables on Australia at Old Trafford with a fantastic batting display. For the first time in this tournament, they got off to a flying start with the bat after winning the toss. With Hashim Amla out injured, Aiden Markram was asked to open the batting with Quinton de Kock, and the flurry of fours at the beginning of the South African innings forced opposition skipper Aaron Finch to turn to spinner Nathan Lyon as early as the 6th over of the game.

Markram and De Kock both departed before the 20th over, but the foundation had been set, and it allowed Rassie van der Dussen, traditionally a bit of a slow starter, time to get himself in. He was 5 (25) before going on to smash 95 in 97. Faf du Plessis scored the Proteas’ first century of the tournament, and South Africa were able to set Australia an imposing 326 to win, which proved to be 10 too many for Justin Langer’s men at the end.

How South Africa would’ve loved the tournament to begin today instead of the 40 odd days before that it did!

And in sending Australia to Edgbaston, a ground known to favour England historically, they might have sounded the death knell for their great opponents’ hopes of defending their crown. Edgbaston was also the venue for that SA-Aus 1999 semi-final that began Australia’s dominance over the 50 over format.

CWC table after group stages of World Cup-2019

Rohit Sharma writes himself into the history books

With a hundred against Sri Lanka, Sharma not only took India to the top of the table, but also broke the record for most centuries in a single World Cup. In the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, Sharma has taken on added responsibility and handled it with aplomb.

He’s also not too far away from Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most runs (673) at a single World Cup. And the way he’s been going, few would bet against him achieving that record as well!

South Africa’s fielding sees them stave off a spirited Australian comeback

There were three great pieces of South African fielding today at Old Trafford- first the run out effected by De Kock to dismiss Marcus Stoinis (one which even MS Dhoni would’ve been proud of), the second a leaping catch, again by De Kock, to dismiss Glenn Maxwell, and the third a stunner from Chris Morris to take out David Warner just as Carey and he were beginning to take the game away from the Proteas.

They had a few lapses in the field- most notably in the form of missed run outs, but this was a far superior effort in terms of catching, and it helped them end their tournament on a high.

Alex Carey the unsung hero for Australia at CWC 2019

With a first class average of 29, few would’ve expected Alex Carey to have the impact he’s had on this tournament. The wicket keeper nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat here, and may be promoted to No.5 in their semi-final against England, given the stunning form he’s been in.

A few alarm bells for Australia?

Australia still remain formidable opponents, as evinced by their never say die attitude during the chase that saw them score nearly 200 in their last 25 overs despite having effectively lost half their side.

However they appear to be in a bit of disarray- Shaun Marsh has already been sent home injured, Usman Khawaja’s tournament looks over after a hamstring issue, Marcus Stoinis had a side strain and even Mitch Starc needed the physio to attend to his knee. At this rate, Marsh Jr and Peter Handscomb may need to make their first appearance of the tournament in the cauldron of a World Cup a semi-final against the hosts at the “Bear Pit”

Not quite panic stations for Australia yet, but England will fancy their chances to advance to the final. Even Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis said he expected the hosts to meet India in the decider at Lord’s in a week’s time, when quizzed about it by Mark Nicholas at the post-match presentation.

The semi-finals will be India vs New Zealand and England vs Australia- same as the first WC warm-up fixtures for these four sides played on May 25.

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Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Bangladesh Cricket World Cup

India bounced back from their loss to England as they beat Bangladesh by 28 runs at Edgbaston to seal their spot in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Here are our talking points from this fixture between the two Asian rivals in Birmingham.

Tamim Iqbal drops Rohit Sharma early in his innings

This was an effective must-win game for Bangladesh following England’s victory over India a couple of days ago. Tigers skipper Mashrafe Mortaza would’ve preferred to bat first, but his opposite number Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to take first guard.

Bangladesh needed to be at their best in the field to keep India to a moderate score. Unfortunately, with Rohit just on 9, Tamim Iqbal dropped a straightforward chance in the deep off Mustafizur Rahman. Rohit, who has a fantastic record against Bangladesh, went on to score a century that would form the cornerstone of India’s imposing 314.

This was the fourth time in the tournament that Sharma was given a life while still in single digits, and on every occasion, he’s made the opposition pay, with three centuries and a half century to his tally instead of four single digit scores.

India through to semis; Bangladesh officially knocked out

The result made India the second team to qualify for the semi-finals after Australia and ended Bangladesh’s slim hopes of making it to the last four. If Australia lose to South Africa in their final game of the tournament, India can finish top with a victory over Sri Lanka.

The last two semi-final spots are now between England, New Zealand and Pakistan. A victory for England today will ensure their progress into the semis, and almost certainly New Zealand’s as well (superior NRR for the Black Caps compared to Pakistan)

CWC table after India vs Bangladesh-2019

Bangladesh need a specialist 140+ quick in their ranks

Bangladesh’s pacers, bar Mustafizur Rahman, weren’t quite at the races today. Mashrafe and Rubel’s struggles with the ball meant they had to depend on part timer Soumya Sarkar for five overs. A quality 140+ quick- in the Bumrah, Rabada, Boult or Starc mould would make Bangladesh a far more threatening side. Bumrah essentially ended their chase with two fine yorkers that took out Nos 10 and 11- the Tigers lacked such quality in their ranks. Continue reading “Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Bangladesh Cricket World Cup”

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Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs India Cricket World Cup 2019

England wrested back fourth spot from Pakistan after a fine all-round display saw them beat India by 31 runs at Edgbaston. Here are our talking points from this fixture.

India suffer their first defeat of CWC 2019

India’s loss today at Edgbaston was their first of the tournament- it also means that every team at CWC 2019 has suffered at least one defeat.

England’s victory also paves the way for Australia to finish first- the defending champions will top the table if they beat South Africa in their final game.

India, for the first time in this tournament, also wore a special away kit today- will they wear it again if they meet England in the last four?

CWC 2019 Table after England vs INdia

Jason Roy’s return a timely one for England

We had noted that England’s defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia came with Jason Roy missing. The Durban born opener was back in action today, and it also ensured a return to form for his partner Jonny Bairstow. The duo put on 160 runs in 22 overs, and that fine opening stand allowed England the luxury of a few quiet overs in the middle before they unleashed a final overs blitzkrieg.

India will feel Shikhar Dhawan’s absence as they go further in the tournament

Shikhar Dhawan is an absolutely fantastic player, more so in ICC tournaments, and today was more evidence that India will sorely miss him in the latter stages of the tournament. His replacement, KL Rahul, made a nine ball duck in India’s chase of 338.

With Dhawan missing, India also opted to give young Rishabh Pant, another southpaw, a go in the middle order. Pant was decent in his 29 ball 32, and may have just done enough to earn another crack at the position. Continue reading “Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs India Cricket World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs West Indies CWC 2019

India maintained their unbeaten start to the tournament as they comfortably saw off West Indies at Old Trafford. Chasing 269, the Windies, who had scored 286 at this very venue against New Zealand a few days ago, were only able to muster 143 in response. Here are our talking points from the fixture.

West Indies officially eliminated

The West Indies have been officially eliminated from the World Cup following this defeat- the third team after Afghanistan and South Africa. The men from the Carribbean had their chances- most notably against Australia and New Zealand, losing from winning positions in both fixtures, and will be left ruing what could’ve been.

The Windies though have been too inconsistent, and today was another prime example. It feels like a side of some very good individuals, but not really a team, and their position in the points table reflects that. They’re very good in the 20 over format, but the longer the game, the more their weaknesses come to the fore, which explains their relative lack of success in both the ODI and test formats in comparison to T20’s.

Shai Hope misses a golden opportunity to stump MS Dhoni

While Dhoni was just getting started, he advanced down the track to Fabian Allen and was beaten in the air. Wicket keeper Shai Hope had two bites at the cherry to get the Indian star stumped, but squandered both, and Dhoni survived. MSD’s late assault was perhaps the difference between West Indies chasing 240-250 and the 269 they eventually had to.

Oshane Thomas and Carlos Braithwaite expensive for the West Indies

The duo of Thomas and Braithwaite went for 96 runs in the 10 overs between them. The Windies had kept a check on the scoring through the middle overs, not allowing India to get away (the remaining 40 went for just 172, less than 4.5 an over). Sheldon Cottrell did his bit in the death overs, but Thomas and Braithwaite did not, and both were taken to the cleaners by Hardik Pandya and Dhoni. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs West Indies CWC 2019”

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Fan Analysis & Talking Points- Pakistan vs New Zealand World Cup 2019

Pakistan kept their semi-final hopes alive and handed New Zealand their first defeat of CWC 2019 earlier this evening at Edgbaston. Here are our talking points from this fixture in Birmingham between the Black Caps and the Men in Green.

Eerie parallels to 1992 for Pakistan’s campaign

Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup campaign has been eerily similar to their 1992 title winning one. On both occasions, they were thrashed in the first game by the West Indies, won the second one, had the third rained out, lost both the fourth and fifth fixtures, and won the sixth and the seventh.

New Zealand were unbeaten at the 1992 World Cup when they lost to Pakistan in the group stages in the seventh game of the tournament, just as it happened today. Both World Cups followed the same round-robin format.

In 1992, Pakistan qualified for the last four at the expense of hosts Australia. Will they produce a repeat this time around, and make it to the semis at England’s expense?

Pakistan 1992

Tom Latham drops Babar Azam

Babar Azam is easily Pakistan’s best batsman, and as an opposition player, one would want to snaffle ANY chance given by him. With the pitch turning square, Mitch Santner got an edge off Babar’s bat, only for wicket-keeper Tom Latham to spill a relatively straight forward chance. If Babar had been dismissed, it would’ve exposed Pakistan’s fragile lower middle order with plenty still to chase.

Babar eventually made an unbeaten century- the first by a Pakistani middle-order batsman at a World Cup since 1987.

Black Caps err in not picking Ish Sodhi

New Zealand opted to field the same XI for the sixth consecutive time in this World Cup, matching South Africa’s record from 1999. In hindsight, they should’ve picked Ish Sodhi on this pitch, which at times felt more like Nagpur than Edgbaston, with balls turning square. Both Babar Azam and Haris Sohail were visibly uncomfortable against spin- even against Kane Williamson, and a quality leggie like Sodhi might’ve easily run through them. Continue reading “Fan Analysis & Talking Points- Pakistan vs New Zealand World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Australia vs England Group Stages World Cup 2019

England crashed to their second straight defeat at the World Cup as Australia beat Trevor Bayliss’ men by 64 runs at Lord’s. Here are our talking points from the game.

England’s semi-final spot in serious jeopardy

Earlier in the tournament, England appeared to be cantering towards a semi-final spot, but the twin losses to Australia and Sri Lanka have put the cat among the pigeons. They are on 8 points from 7 games, and have India and New Zealand to play in their final two clashes. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could all potentially leapfrog the hosts.

England will be watching tomorrow’s Pakistan-New Zealand game with great interest. A Black Caps win will settle some nerves, but a Pakistan victory will make England’s clash against India a must-win, not an ideal scenario given the form Virat Kohli’s men are currently in.

CWC Table After Australia vs England June 25

Jason Roy injury hurting England

England’s tournament has taken a turn for the worse since Jason Roy’s injury. He didn’t feature in the losses against Sri Lanka and Australia. Alex Hales and Roy were key figures for the English in their ODI resurgence, but with one banned and the other injured, their opening pair looks vulnerable. James Vince rarely seems to be able to cross 30, and that pressure appears to be transferring to the middle order.

Another England loss while chasing

Eoin Morgan won the toss and opted to field first. And as it’s so turned out, all three of England’s losses in this tournament- Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Australia, have come while chasing. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Australia vs England Group Stages World Cup 2019”

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Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Afghanistan- Cricket World Cup 2019

After comfortable wins over South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, India got their first major scare of the tournament as Afghanistan came mighty close to upsetting them at the Rose Bowl. Here are our talking points from the game- a second straight last over thriller after the game between New Zealand and the Proteas.

India’s middle order struggles

If there was ever a concern for India leading into this World Cup, it was their middle order. Against the likes of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, some one from the top order always made a century, which made things easy for the other batters. For the first time in this tournament, their openers struggled. While Virat Kohli was again fantastic (only player to strike at over a run a ball), he was out for 67, with India at 135 in the 31st over. The Men in Blue only managed 90 odd runs in the last twenty, as MS Dhoni and Kedhar Jadhav plodded along in the middle overs. Dhoni made only 28 from 52 balls before being stumped, and both batsmen were criticised by legendary Indian star Sachin Tendulkar for “not possessing intent”

Afghanistan weren’t able to make India pay, but a better team would, and India’s competitors would’ve seen a definite chink in their armoury.

Mohammad Shami claims the first hat trick of CWC 2019

Mohammad Shami has been a vastly improved bowler over the last 18 months, but had to sit out India’s first four games, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar preferred for team balance. With Kumar out due to a hamstring injury, Shami got his chance against Afghanistan, and created World Cup history with his last over hat trick. It came under pressure, with Nabi threatening to take Afghanistan home, but Shami kept his cool and ensured India’s unbeaten run at the World Cup continued.

CWC Hat tricks List

India’s bowlers are among the best in the world

India have always had good batsmen, but the emergence of a strong bowling unit has been one of the reasons for them becoming a world class outfit. Continue reading “Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Afghanistan- Cricket World Cup 2019”

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Can South Africa qualify for the World Cup semifinals? A look at the Proteas chances

Can the Proteas still qualify for the Cricket World Cup semifinals? Despite their dreadful start to the tournament, South Africa, as it stands, are still in with a chance. Ahead of today’s clash against Pakistan at Lord’s, we take a look at the best (and most likely route!) for the Proteas to make it to the last four of the tournament.

Table after June 22 Games

World Cup Standings after 22 June 2019 Games

Games left for Proteas & major competitors

Proteas (3 points from 6 games)– Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia

England (8 points from 6 games)- Australia, India, New Zealand

Sri Lanka (6 points from 6 games)– South Africa, West Indies, India

Bangladesh (5 points from 6 games)– Afghanistan, India, Pakistan

West Indies (3 points from 6 games)– India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan

Pakistan (3 points from 5 games)– South Africa, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Bangladesh

How can South Africa still qualify for the CWC semis?

The Proteas must win all three of their games, which will take them to 9 points.

They need England to lose all three of their remaining games- England haven’t won against Australia, India and NZ in group play at the World Cup since 1992. England will then finish on 8.

They also need Sri Lanka to win only one of their three games. Given that SL should beat the Windies, that means India have to beat Sri Lanka.

If the Windies beat Sri Lanka, they (WI) need to lose to India. Given the Indian game is before the SL one, the Windies might be out of the tournament by then, which is why we think Sri Lanka would beat the Men in Maroon.

They also need Bangladesh to win only one game. If Bangladesh win two, it could come to net run rate (and they could improve theirs against Afghanistan), which means the Proteas would want India and Pakistan to beat Bangladesh.

In an ideal world, for the Proteas, Pakistan would lose to New Zealand but beat Bangladesh. If the Proteas beat Pakistan, but the latter win their remaining three, it could come to net run rate- Pakistan have a terrible current NRR (-1.933), but they do have a game in hand against Afghanistan.

In such a scenario, the Proteas will finish on 9 points, and all their challengers below them (England 8, Sri Lanka 8, Bangladesh and Pakistan 7 each)

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs Sri Lanka World Cup 2019

Sri Lanka, led by veteran Lasith Malinga, produced a stunning comeback with the ball as England failed to chase down 233 at Headingley. Trevor Bayliss’ men have now lost twice in the tournament and with Australia, India and New Zealand as their remaining opponents, could suddenly find it tough to qualify for the semis. Here are our talking points from the game.

Sri Lanka victory keeps the tournament alive

An England win here would’ve all but decided the identity of the semi-finalists, with India also expected to see off Afghanistan tomorrow.

Instead Sri Lanka’s victory has kept the tournament alive for the likes of Bangladesh, West Indies and even South Africa. England now have eight points from six games and may need to win one, if not two of their remaining three games against Australia, England and NZ to qualify for the last four- not so straightforward given the form the trio have been in.

CWC table after England vs Sri Lanka-2019

The Root review that kept Sri Lanka in the game

Yesterday, South Africa failed to notice a clear nick from Kane Williamson at a crucial period during the Kiwi chase.. Today Joe Root edged a delivery going down leg from Malinga to the keeper. The umpire didn’t give it out, but Sri Lanka went for the review, and got their man. Root was as important to the English cause as Williamson was to New Zealand’s yesterday, and his dismissal gave Sri Lanka renewed belief.

Malinga and Matthews pull it off for Sri Lanka

The two veterans played major roles in this stunning victory. Matthews was slow with the bat, but his 85 gave the Lankans something to bowl at, and Malinga was simply superb with the ball, picking up the wickets of Bairstow, Vince, Root and Buttler to keep the visitors’ hopes alive. He would’ve even had Stokes and a deserved 5fer at the end, but for Kusal Mendis spilling a chance in the deep.

Do England crumble under scoreboard pressure?

Both of England’s losses in this tournament- previously against Pakistan and here against Sri Lanka, came while chasing. They do bat deep, but such factors can be rendered irrelevant in the face of scoreboard pressure, as it did today. They also lost to Australia in the warm-ups while chasing.

This was very winnable for England, but their lower order- Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer in particular, threw their wickets away when all they needed was to stay with Ben Stokes.

A proper choke one has to stay- one the Proteas would’ve been proud of! Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs Sri Lanka World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs New Zealand World Cup 2019

New Zealand took a massive step towards the semi-finals as they beat South Africa in a final over thriller that all but ended the latter’s slim chances of making it to the last four. Here are our talking points from the game at Edgbaston, which was also the venue for that epic SF involving the Proteas two decades ago!

The Williamson dismissal that wasn’t reviewed

In Imran Tahir’s last over, with New Zealand at 173/5 in the 38th over, Kane Williamson was beaten as he attempted to glide the ball. Tahir had half an appeal on his lips, as he always does, but more importantly, Proteas keeper Quinton de Kock did not appeal. Replays showed that Williamson had edged the ball and if South Africa had opted for DRS, they would’ve had the Kiwi skipper out at a crucial period in the game.

The Proteas missed more chances (run-outs and dropped catches among them), but this is the one they’ll rue the most. Faf du Plessis did not enjoy the luck of his his Australian counterpart Aaron Finch, whose last second DRS review got rid of Wahab Riaz at a crucial stage in their game against Pakistan. In fact, Du Plessis wasn’t even aware that Williamson would’ve been out until Pommie Mbangwa told him in the post match presentation!

Kane Williamson Edge off Tahir World Cup 2019

Andile Phehlukwayo chooses the wrong time to have an off day

Over the last couple of seasons, Andile Phehlukwayo has been one of South Africa’s most consistent performers in this format and has rightly established himself as the Proteas No.1 all rounder. Unfortunately the Dolphins star had a bad day at the office- a five ball duck and 1/73 in 8.3 on a day when all his fellow bowlers went for under 5 an over.

Did Du Plessis err by not giving Aiden Markram a bowl?

Andile Phehlukwayo didn’t have a great day with the ball, but despite knowing Colin de Grandhomme’s struggles against spin, Faf du Plessis choose not to go to Aiden Markram for an over or two in the middle. De Grandhomme was cautious against Imran Tahir, and it would’ve been interesting to see him take on Markram with the run rate steadily rising. Perhaps a day when Du Plessis needed JP Duminy in the side- clearly didn’t feel confident enough to ask Markram to roll his arm over despite Phehlukwayo’s struggles. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs New Zealand World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Pakistan World Cup 2019

India continued their dominance over Pakistan in World Cups, beating them for the seventh time in succession as they won comfortably by 89 runs at Old Trafford. Rain was expected to play spoil sport in Manchester, but fortunately didn’t have much of a role to play, with a result guaranteed by the time the heavens really opened up. Here are our five talking points from this game. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Pakistan World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Pakistan vs Australia World Cup 2019

Australia bounced back from their loss to India as they beat Pakistan by 41 runs at Taunton on Wednesday. Here are our talking points from this fixture- effectively the first full World Cup game this week after the South Africa-West Indies and Bangladesh-Sri Lanka clashes were washed out.

Middle order implosion hurts Pakistan

Chasing 308, Pakistan were purring along at 136/2 at the half way mark, with both Imam Ul Haq and Mohammad Hafeez looking well set. Australian skipper Aaron Finch was forced to turn back to Patrick Cummins to stem the flow of runs. However in the space of fifteen deliveries, the innings simply imploded.

Cummins’ first ball of this spell was a short wide one going down leg. Imam went after it, but only succeeded in edging to wicket keeper Alex Carey and Australia had their breakthrough. In the next over, Finch bowled an absolutely terrible full toss- Hafeez could’ve dispatched it anywhere, but he smashed it straight down Mitch Starc’s throat on the deep mid-wicket boundary. Cummins then got Shoaib Malik to edge one to Carey for a second ball duck and Pakistan’s chase had imploded in the space of two and a half overs.

Kane Richardson, perhaps Australia’s worst pacer on the day, then accounted for the dangerous Asif Ali in the 30th over, reducing Pakistan to 160/6.

The last second DRS review that sealed Pakistan’s fate

Despite their middle order wobbles, Pakistan’s lower order- Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz in particular, had mounted a spirited fightback in the company of skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed.

The equation had been reduced to 45 to win off 6 overs- very gettable in this age, but with only three wickets in hand. Finch threw the ball to Starc, and the left armer immediately struck, getting Wahab to edge one to Carey. The umpire didn’t give it out and Finch, perhaps not convinced himself, only opted for DRS with one second left on the clock. As luck would have it, Snicko showed an edge and with Starc taking out Mohammad Amir two deliveries later, Pakistan’s slim hopes were extinguished.

Australia lucky to come out on the winning side

Pakistan, like the West Indies before them, would be wondering how they let this one slip. All it needed was some smart cricket. Like it had happened in the Windies game, Cummins and Starc gave Australia crucial breakthroughs just when the opposition thought they were gaining control of the game.

CWC table after Australia vs Pakistan-2019

Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Pakistan vs Australia World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Australia World Cup 2019

India continued their excellent start to the World Cup as they beat defending champions Australia by 36 runs at the Oval. It was the first time since 1999 that the Aussies had lost a World Cup game while chasing. Here are our talking points from the game.

A bad day at the office for David Warner

When Warner edged the first ball of Jasprit Bumrah’s spell onto his stumps, the bails (not for the first time in this tournament!) failed to be dislodged. At that time, Australia could be forgiven for thinking that it was their day- Warner, after all, was expected to play a prominent role in the chase. However it was a stroke of luck that actually worked out in India’s favour.

The 32 year old Warner made a painfully slow 56 in 84 balls- effectively taking up 14 of Australia’s 50 overs in a tough run chase. It was his slowest ever ODI fifty and the slowest one by an Australian opener since Mark Waugh in 1999. Given how the 50 over game has progressed in the last two decades, those are pretty damning numbers. Even worse, Warner ran out partner Aaron Finch, who looked in excellent nick, leading the latter to take out his frustration on the furniture in the dressing room- not the type of outburst we see often from the Victorian.

Scoreboard pressure tells on Australia

Australia had clinched a famous victory in Mohali only three months ago- chasing a mammoth 359 to inflict a stunning defeat on India. However they failed to pace their innings at the Oval, perhaps taking a little too long to press on the accelerator.

India had hit 116 runs in their last 10 overs and Australia sought to replicate their plan. At the end of the 40th over, they were actually marginally ahead of India, but scoreboard pressure often tells when you’re chasing, and that’s what precisely happened with the Aussies as they fell 36 runs short.

Australia's starting line up vs India-2019

Rohit Sharma & Shikhar Dhawan set up strong platform for India victory

This was India’s first victory over Australia in a league World Cup clash since 1987, and was largely down to the excellent work done by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The duo, knowing that Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins were the key bowlers for Australia, saw them off and targetted the weaker bowlers.

Their opening stand of 127 laid the foundation for India’s 300 plus score and allowed the likes of Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and KL Rahul to hit from the word go. Sharma, who had scored a century in the win against South Africa, followed it up with a half century while Dhawan’s 125 means that he has three World Cup tons- only Sachin Tendulkar has more among Indian players.

The duo broke several records along the way- they became the most prolific opening pair against Australia, surpassing the legendary pair of Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge. Sharma also reached the 2000 run landmark against Australia.

India's line up against Australia-2019

Did Australia miss a trick by not promoting Maxwell or Carey? Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- India vs Australia World Cup 2019”

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Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Australia vs West Indies Cricket World Cup 2019

The West Indies missed out on a golden opportunity to beat Australia as they went down by fifteen runs to Justin Langer’s men at Trent Bridge. Here are our talking points from the game.

West Indies their own worst enemies

You’ve got 38 runs to chase from five overs with four wickets in hand and two reasonably well set batsmen at the crease. Mitch Starc has 2 overs in hand and the other 3 have to come from Nathan Coulter-Nile (who had been poor with the ball), and the fifth bowler, Marcus Stoinis. The idea would’ve been to play out Starc and focus on the other bowlers, but Carlos Braithwaite and Jason Holder, for some bizarre reason, attempted to target Starc in the 46th over. The left arm pacer won the battle comfortably, claiming both their wickets, and with that went West Indies’ hopes of claiming a famous win.

Braithwaite and Holder weren’t the only guilty ones- Andre Russel was equally culpable. Fresh from a stunning season with KKR in the IPL, Dre Russ launched into Adam Zampa as soon as he walked into the middle. At the other end Starc was ready for his eighth over- potentially his last in that spell, with the Windies requiring 79 off 12 overs. In what could only be termed as a severe lapse in judgement, Russell chose to go after Starc, and paid the price with his wicket, handing the initiative back to Australia.

Will the Windies ever get a better opportunity to beat Australia? Perhaps not.

Australia display their WC credentials

It’s the hallmark of a champion side to cross the line even when they’re not at their best, and Australia again displayed that in Nottingham. Staring down the barrel first at 38/4 and then 79/5, they managed to stage an incredible recovery to get to 288.

When the going gets tough, someone from the Australian side always raises their hand to do a job for their team, and on this occasion, it was bowler Nathan-Coulter Nile, who emerged the unlikely hero with a 62 ball 90. It was the highest ever World Cup score by a No.8 batsman.

This fixture at Trent Bridge marked the 5th time that Australia had gone on to win a World Cup game despite losing their first four batsmen with less than 50 on the board.

AUS Fourth Wicket Lowest

Poor umpiring in the West Indies innings

Chris Gayle was dismissed LBW (on umpire’s call) when the previous ball bowled by Mitch Starc was a HUGE no-ball that was not called. Between them, umpires Chris Gaffaney and Ruchira Palliyaguruge had four decisions overturned.

Starc No Ball vs West Indies 2019 Not Called Continue reading “Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Australia vs West Indies Cricket World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs India World Cup 2019

India’s recent dominance over South Africa in ICC events continued as Virat Kohli’s men opened their World Cup campaign with a six wicket win at the Rose Bowl. Here are our talking points from the game.

Proteas fail to win the small moments

When you have only 228 to defend and your bowling ranks are depleted due to injury, you need to take EVERY chance that comes your way. Unfortunately for the Proteas, skipper Faf du Plessis dropped Rohit Sharma in the third over of the game when the Indian opener was just on 1. It wasn’t a straightforward catch, but not an entirely difficult one either. The drop went on to cost 121 runs as Sharma scored a fine century to take India home in a tough chase. There were a few other “what if moments” too- the ball dropping just in front of Amla at slip after Chris Morris had drawn an edge off Rohit, and David Miller dropping an absolute dolly in the 44th over.

Chris Morris delivers an inspired performance

On paper, Chris Morris has all the ingredients to be one of the world’s best all-rounders. Unfortunately for South Africa, that promise hasn’t quite translated into success on the pitch, with Morris guilty of being very inconsistent. Today though was one of his best ever performances in a Proteas jersey- top scoring with 42 (the only one to score at over a run a ball for South Africa), and then producing a fine 10-3-36-1 spell with the ball. Morris wasn’t in the selectors’ WC plans over the last year, but got into the squad as an injury replacement. If this version of Tipo turns up more frequently, he will have no problems holding down a first team spot.

South Africa’s spinners fail to have the same impact as India’s

Having lost both Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi to injury, South Africa opted to go with two spinners at the Rose Bowl in the form of Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi. Both failed to deliver- Tahir finished with 0/58 in his 10, while Shamsi was also wicketless, going for 54 in his 9. In a game where South Africa needed them to strangulate India in the middle overs after Rabada, Morris and Phehlukwayo had put the Men in Blue on the back foot in the opening stages, their performances were disappointing.

By comparison, India’s spinners took five wickets between them and consistently broke partnerships just as they were beginning to look dangerous, robbing the Proteas of much needed momentum. Yuzvendra Chahal for instance, broke both the Faf-Rassie and Miller-Phehlukwayo partnerships, and finished with four wickets.

South Africa Line up vs India-2019 Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- South Africa vs India World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis Pakistan vs England- Cricket World Cup 2019

Perhaps the game of the World Cup so far, as Pakistan defied all pre-match odds to stun England at Trent Bridge. The visitors racked up 348 after being sent in by Eoin Morgan, and England, despite having two centurions in the chase, fell 14 runs short. Here are our talking points from this epic clash in Nottingham.

You never quite know which Pakistan team will turn up

Three days ago, this Pakistan team had been thrashed at this very ground by a West Indies side that had barely managed to qualify for the World Cup themselves. Today they pulled themselves up to halt their record losing streak in ODI’s and stun pre-tournament favourites England. It musn’t be forgotten that just a month ago, they had been beaten 4-0 by England in a bilateral series. For the neutrals, Pakistan remain a hugely entertaining side- a team that can beat the best, but also lose to the worst. After five days of CWC 2019, they now hold the records for both the highest and lowest scores in this tournament.

Did Eoin Morgan err by opting to field first?

Did Morgan make the same mistake as Faf du Plessis did yesterday by sending Pakistan in? There was no scoreboard pressure for the visitors to deal with when they batted, and while England tried their best to keep pace with the required rate, there’s a reason why 300+ scores aren’t chased that often in World Cups, and Trevor Bayliss’ men eventually fell short. Pakistan are not known to be a good chasing team and bowling remains their stronger suit.

The redemption of Wahab Riaz

It’s not often that one uses the word “redemption” for a bowler who goes for over 80 runs, but it was apt for Wahab Riaz. The much maligned pacer (he had been publicly criticised by coach Micky Arthur), swung the game in Pakistan’s favour by getting the wickets of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes in successive balls in the 48th over. Not quite in the same league as Wasim Akram’s legendary deliveries to dismiss Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the 1992 final, but just reward for a pacer who had toiled hard and should’ve got more wickets on the day.

Pakistan Starting Line up vs England-2019

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Five Talking Points & Analysis- South Africa vs Bangladesh CWC 2019 at the Oval

South Africa crashed to their second straight defeat- the first time in their history they’ve begun a World Cup campaign with two losses, as Bangladesh stunned them at the Oval. Here are our talking points from the game.

Rabada’s dropped catch of Mahmudullah

This South Africa squad is a pale shadow of the side that set new standards for fielding in the 90’s. In the first ball of the 47th over, Mahmudullah Riyad tried to hoick Chris Morris over the deep backward square boundary, only for Kagiso Rabada to drop a relatively easy catch. That drop was a big game changing moment- Bangladesh went on to score 54 in their last four overs and Morris, who began bowling at the death with 1/44 in his 8 overs, went for 29 in his last two.

South Africa needed the same number of runs from their last four, but could only manage 30 odds runs as they slumped to a demoralising defeat.

Bangladesh Starting Line Up vs South Africa-2019

Lungi Ngidi breaks down early into his spell

Ngidi has been a key part of South Africa’s bowling lineup but fans who have watched the Proteas over the last couple of seasons would’ve also noticed his tendency to break down frequently. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Analysis- South Africa vs Bangladesh CWC 2019 at the Oval”

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Five Talking Points & Analysis- West Indies vs Pakistan Trent Bridge Cricket World Cup 2019

Pakistan suffered their 11th straight ODI defeat as their World Cup campaign got off to a nightmarish start against the West Indies at Trent Bridge. Here are our talking points from this CWC clash.

Pakistan undone by pace and bounce

Trent Bridge was expected to be a batting paradise, but Pakistan simply struggled to deal with short and back of a length deliveries here, with more than half their side falling victim to it. Spin was considered to be the Windies’ weak link, but captain Jason Holder didn’t have to even bring Ashley Nurse on as his pacers did all the damage upfront. Oshane Thomas was the pick of the lot, claiming the vital wickets of Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz in his 4/27 spell.

Pakistan were dismissed for just 105 in 21.4 overs- their shortest ever innings in World Cup history, and their second lowest total after the 74 against England in that rain-hit clash in Adelaide back in 1992. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Analysis- West Indies vs Pakistan Trent Bridge Cricket World Cup 2019”

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Five Talking Points & Analysis- England vs South Africa- First Game of Cricket World Cup 2019

England kicked off their World Cup campaign with a comfortable 104 run victory over South Africa at the Oval. Here are our talking points from the hosts’ opening day clash against the Proteas.

South Africa undone by Archer pace

Last month Jofra Archer wasn’t even in England’s preliminary World Cup squad. Today he single-handedly broke the back of South Africa’s batting with his searing pace. His first spell saw him nail Hashim Amla with a bouncer that forced the veteran to retire hurt, and then account for both Aiden Markram and Faf du Plessis. To finish things off, he also dismissed the well-set Rassie van der Dussen in his second spell, thus eliminating any slim hopes the Proteas might have entertained of upsetting the hosts.

Archer’s average speed was in the mid 140’s, a good 10km or more than the rest of the bowlers on the day. On a slightly two paced wicket, he made the batsman uncomfortable with his pace, and has effectively confirmed his spot in the XI for the rest of the tournament.

England lineup vs South Africa World Cup 2019

Familiar Proteas middle order implosion

South Africa have been heavily dependent on Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis for their runs in the last eighteen months or so. Du Plessis was dismissed early by Archer, but De Kock marched on, making a fine fifty to take South Africa to 129/2 in the company of Rassie van der Dussen. However once QdK holed out to Root on the fine leg boundary, the Proteas fell apart. The visitors needed JP Duminy and Dwaine Pretorius to keep things ticking, but the former fell to a poor shot and the latter to a needless run-out (there’s always one in Proteas games at key ICC events!). It left too much to do for Andile Phehlukwayo and Van der Dussen, and South Africa eventually slumped to a 104 run defeat.

Ben Stokes stars with a 3D performance Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Analysis- England vs South Africa- First Game of Cricket World Cup 2019”

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Talking Points from India vs Bangladesh & New Zealand vs West Indies- WC Warm-ups

The fifth and final set of World Cup warm-up fixtures saw India take on Bangladesh in Cardiff and West Indies square off against New Zealand in Bristol. For both Bangladesh and West Indies, this was their first warm-up after their earlier clashes had been rained off. Here are our talking points from both fixtures. Continue reading “Talking Points from India vs Bangladesh & New Zealand vs West Indies- WC Warm-ups”

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Five Talking Points from England vs Afghanistan & Australia vs Sri Lanka- World Cup Warm-ups 2019

After a disappointing rain-hit day yesterday, fans thankfully had a full set of warm-up games to watch today- the fourth and the penultimate set of these fixtures. We witnessed hosts England taking on Afghanistan at the Oval in London and five time World Champions Australia squaring off against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl. Co-incidentally, both matches were fairly one sided with England and Australia helping themselves to comfortable victories, and the hosts and the defending champions both appear to be hitting their straps at the right time going into this quadrennial show piece. Here are our five talking points from today’s action.

Afghanistan’s pace attack needs to step up.

Three days ago, Afghanistan stunned Pakistan. Today, they were were blown away by a dominant England side. Put in to bat first, the Afghanistan batsmen never quite got going. Jofra Archer and Joe Root picked up three each as Afghanistan failed to stitch a partnership of any real significance and lost wickets at regular intervals. A couple of terrible run-outs didn’t help matters either as the visitors failed to bat out their full quota of overs, and they were eventually dismissed for just 160.

More telling was the fact that the 9th and 10th wicket stands were the highest of the innings for Afghanistan.

Phil Simmons’ men required quick wickets at the top to give themselves a chance. However, England’s openers put up a 77 run stand in just 7.2 overs to end any slim hopes Afghanistan may have entertained of making this a contest. Their pacers cumulatively went for over 10 an over, and England finished off the chase in a little over 100 deliveries. While they may have world-class spinners in Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, cricket is a team sport, and Afghanistan’s pacers must step up if they are to go far in this tournament. Continue reading “Five Talking Points from England vs Afghanistan & Australia vs Sri Lanka- World Cup Warm-ups 2019”

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Five Talking Points from India vs New Zealand & Australia vs England- World Cup Warm-ups 2019

The second set of World Cup warm-up fixtures saw India square off against New Zealand at the Oval and England take on Australia at the Rose Bowl. Both World Cup favourites fell to defeats, and here are our talking points from both games.

Swing and seam remains a potential weakness for Team India

When India toured New Zealand earlier this year, they won the ODI series 4-1, but one game stood out for fans and pundits, and that was in Hamilton, when Trent Boult wrecked the Indian top order in helpful conditions to register New Zealand’s solitary win.

Today’s game at the Oval felt like a throwback to that fixture, with Boult again making use of the overcast conditions to dismiss Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul cheaply.

Given how games in the recent past in England have been, fans were expecting flat decks and scores of 350+, but the four warm-ups so far have given only one score of over 300. Maybe the ICC is doing their best to ensure a better contest between bat and ball?

India have only one game at the Oval, and that’s against defending champions Australia. If the conditions are similar, the likes of Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile could do damage similar to what Boult did. The Men in Blue will need to have a contingency plan for wickets that aid the opposition bowlers. Continue reading “Five Talking Points from India vs New Zealand & Australia vs England- World Cup Warm-ups 2019”

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Five Talking Points from South Africa vs Sri Lanka & Pakistan vs Afghanistan- World Cup Warm-ups

The first set of warm-up fixtures for the Cricket World Cup kicked off earlier today with South Africa squaring off against Sri Lanka in Cardiff and Asian neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan locking horns in Bristol. Interestingly enough, the side winning the toss ended up losing in both fixtures. Here are our talking points from the two games.

A much needed half century for Hashim Amla

Given his sketchy performances over the last year and the burden of personal circumstances (his father hasn’t been keeping well), there were some doubts over whether Hashim Amla should’ve been aboard the plane to England. The veteran however remains a classy player, and his 65 (61) would’ve boosted his confidence ahead of the main tournament.

Faf du Plessis and Andile Phehlukwayo again instrumental in South Africa victory

Both Du Plessis and Phehlukwayo have established themselves as mainstays of the Proteas ODI team over the last couple of years. While not quite in the same league as AB de Villiers, Du Plessis has taken his game to a new level in the last 18 months, and is South Africa’s best batsman in their current XI. He again top scored for his side with a fantastic 88 (69)

Young Phehlukwayo has established himself as South Africa’s premier all-rounder, and punctured Sri Lanka’s chase with 4/36 in his 7 overs, including the key wicket of the in-form Kusal Mendis.

The weaknesses remain weaknesses for South Africa

Chris Morris’ inconsistency with the ball and David Miller’s struggles against sub-continental opposition are well documented, and both again failed to deliver against the Lankans. Miller was the only player not to get into double figures, while Morris, while impressive with the bat, was again wayward with the ball.

CWC Warmups

Pakistan’s power-hitting is very dependent on Asif Ali

Pakistan perhaps have three players in this side who can hit from the ball go- Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali and Imad Wasim. With Ali unavailable and Zaman falling cheaply, Pakistan didn’t quite have the firepower to cross 300. They were 203/4 in the 38th over, and only managed 262 in the end. It’s a major area of concern for Micky Arthur. Babar Azam was magnificent, but cricket is a team game, and Pakistan’s batting, it appears, hasn’t exactly kept pace with the times. Losses to Australia and England were fine, but this defeat to Afghanistan, albeit in a warm-up, will definitely hurt.

Wahab Riaz provides a timely reminder of why he was selected

Wahab Riaz nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for Pakistan with his fantastic 48th over. Displaying both pace and reverse swing, he knocked over both Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran, and nearly had Rashid Khan as well. Wahab’s abilities with the ball are sometimes Wasim-esque, and with his spell here, he might have just walked into the Pakistan XI ahead of their tournament opener against the West Indies.

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Analysing South Africa’s 2019 Cricket World Cup Squad- Proteas strengths & weaknesses

Perhaps with the exception of their inaugural World Cup campaign in 1992, never have South Africa gone into a tournament with such low expectations. The Proteas always used to be among the favourites for this quadrennial extravaganza, but the retirement of AB de Villiers, and their own sketchy performances at recent ICC events (they failed to get out of their group at the last Champions Trophy in England), has lowered expectations among their own fans.

What changes did South Africa make to their original World Cup squad?

There was just one- MSL sensation Anrich Nortje withdrew due to injury and all-rounder Chris Morris, who really didn’t appear to be in the Proteas World Cup plans, has been called up as a replacement. There’s plenty of talent in Morris- he has many qualities of what South Africa want in their all-rounder (pace, the ability to bowl a fine yorker, power hitting at will), but seems to be too inconsistent. Gibson initially wanted youngster Wiaan Mulder in the squad, and backed him for most of the last year before deciding that the event came too soon for him.

What is the Proteas weak-point?

It’s essentially the batting. AB de Villiers’ retirement has robbed them of their finest batsman this decade, and with Hashim Amla’s dip in form, a lot will depend on Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis.

Rassie van der Dussen has never played an ODI outside South Africa, David Miller struggles against spin, and JP Duminy is short on match practice, having been out of action for most of the last 12 months.

Unlike previous Proteas World Cup squads, this one also struggles for batting depth. Steyn, Tahir, Rabada and Ngidi is a delightful bowling lineup on paper, but leaves them with a very long tail. Sacrificing one of Steyn or Ngidi for a second all-rounder might be the way to go, but Dwaine Pretorius may become cannon fodder on flat tracks given his gentle pace, and while Chris Morris has the pace, he doesn’t have the consistency. The fifth bowler problem was a big reason for South Africa’s failed 2015 World Cup campaign, and it could haunt them again this year as they struggle to get their balance right.

What are the Proteas strengths?

The form of Du Plessis and De Kock with the bat, and their bowling. However there are some fitness concerns on the bowling front- Steyn and Ngidi seem to get injured too often and there are concerns whether they can last a full tournament, while Kagiso Rabada has been literally bowled into the ground over the last year. South Africa need all of them to be fit and firing- if they don’t, an early exit beckons.

Who could be the unlikely saviour for South Africa?

His international ODI numbers don’t suggest it, but Aiden Markram is a very talented player. Has also been in top form for his English county just before the World Cup. If he can sort out his issues against spin, he could be the key to solving their batting woes. Markram is also the only Proteas player to have won the World Cup as a captain (U19 in the UAE), and has been tipped to take over the captaincy once Du Plessis retires.

South Africa’s fixtures- Tough to start off with, with England, Bangladesh and India as their first three opponents.

Proteas Fixtures World Cup