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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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.

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

England Final Cricket World Cup Squad Announced | New Balance CWC 2019 Kit Unveiled

Hosts England have announced their final 15 member squad for the World Cup on home soil later this summer. Eoin Morgan’s side will kick off matters against South Africa on May 30, and will be wearing a New Balance strip that appears to be a throwback to the country’s 1992 kit, with plenty of blue and far lesser red in the uniform.

What are the changes to England’s final World Cup squad?

From the original one named in April, there are three changes. Out go Alex Hales (drugs ban), Joe Denly and David Willey, and in come James Vince, Liam Dawson and Jofra Archer.

England WC Squad 2019

The Willey exclusion is perhaps harsh on the left armer, admitted as much by chief selector Ed Smith, but somebody had to make way for Jofra Archer given his exploits against Pakistan and Ireland, and the 29 year-old Willey was the man.

However given Chris Woakes and Mark Wood’s injury records, Willey might well find himself in the squad later in the tournament. The squad appears to have most bases covered, and the bowling, which was considered a slight weak point, has been given a major boost in the form of Archer, who can easily hit speeds of 145+ and boasts of fantastic variations.

Dawson’s inclusion was owing to a niggle to Adil Rashid, which saw the specialist spinner being chosen by England, rather than Denly, who is primarily a batsman who can chip in with a few overs.

Here are a few pictures of England’s new World Cup kit made by New Balance. NB are a popular name in the football world, and are supplying kits to both England and South Africa at CWC 2019.

The winners of the last two CWC’s- India (2011) and Australia (2015), won it on home soil. England are certainly among the favourites for the 2019 edition and will be keen to improve on their Champions Trophy performance, where they breezed through the tournament before falling to eventual winners Pakistan on a tricky semi-final pitch in Cardiff.

New England World Cup Kit 2019

New Balance England World Cup Shirt 2019

Pakistan Final CWC 2019 15 Man Squad & New AJ Fordham Cricket World Cup Jersey

Reigning Champions Trophy holders Pakistan have revealed their final 15 member squad for the World Cup. The Men in Green have also unveiled their new WC shirt, made by England based company AJ Fordham.

Pakistan Final World Cup Squad 2019

What are the differences between Pakistan’s first squad and the final CWC squad?

Three new players are in the final squad- Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Asif Ali, with Junaid Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Abid Ali making way.

Why has Wahab Riaz been recalled to the Pakistan squad for the 2019 World Cup?

Wahab’s last ODI for Pakistan came in June 2017 against India. He went for 87 runs in his 8.4 overs and it appeared that his international career was over when national coach Micky Arthur publicly criticised him.

However the struggles of Pakistan’s bowlers in English conditions- they conceded over 300 in every game, has made the selectors feel the need for an out and out pacer, and Wahab, who can easily hit 145+, fits that bill. It’s a controversial selection no doubt, and Junaid Khan and even Usman Shinwari could count themselves unlucky. Junaid even took to Twitter to voice his displeasure, releasing a photo of his mouth taped and saying “Sach Karwa hai” (Truth is bitter).

Junaid Khan Sach Karwa Hai Tweet

Amir’s selection, despite his recent struggles, is perhaps more understandable. His CT final spell has almost earned him legendary status in Pakistan and the selectors will be hoping that he can come back into form, with the World Cup also being held in the same country as the Champions Trophy.

Amir didn’t play the England ODI’s because of chickenpox, but it appears staying away from the carnage has elevated him up Pakistan’s bowling hierarchy.

Shadab Khan was a major doubt after contracting hepatitis, but has apparently recovered in time for the World Cup.

Pakistan don’t have a reserve wicket keeper

The squad announced has only one specialist keeper- skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed. While Inzamam Ul Haq has stated that Mohammad Rizwan and Abid Ali will both be in England on standby, the latter’s omission from the squad means that Pakistan will be hoping that their keeper doesn’t break down.

Pakistan’s new Cricket World Cup kit- photos

New Pakistan World Cup 2019 Shirt

Back of Pakistan WC Kit 2019

Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings Final 12 May Match Report-2019

Mumbai Indians continued their domination of Chennai Super Kings in this year’s IPL as they edged a nail-biting final to be crowned winners of the 2019 edition of the tournament. MI’s victory also meant the continuation of their winning streak in odd-numbered years this decade- they had previously won the tournament in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

MI included Mitchell McClenaghan in place of Jayant Yadav, while Chennai went in with an unchanged XI. Continue reading “Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings Final 12 May Match Report-2019”