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.
Ravi Jadeja makes a compelling case for a starting spot.
He is competing with Kuldeep Yadav for the spinner’s spot, but given the latter’s recent struggles, Ravi Jadeja made a strong case for his owninclusion by scoring a valuable 54 (50) here- India’s top scorer in the innings. If Kuldeep’s bowling doesn’t improve, Jadeja may leapfrog him into the starting XI.
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor instrumental in Black Caps victory
Taylor has been in fantastic touch since his eye surgery (only Kohli has more runs than him in this period), and he again showed his class by guiding New Zealand to victory after they had lost Colin Munro and Martin Guptill cheaply. Skipper Kane Williamson, perhaps hindered by his lack of practice in the IPL, started slowly, but got into his groove as the game progressed. For New Zealand to progress to the semis, a lot will depend on this duo.
The pair of Williamson and Guptill added 114 runs for the third wicket and scored 67 & 71 respectively.
Don’t write Australia off
They may have been the worst performing ODI team after CWC 2015, but Australia have come into their own in the last six months, and look a stronger side with the returning Steve Smith, who scored a century here. Their death bowling was also impressive, with Kane Richardson and Marcus Stoinis strangulating the England tail.
India’s reserves fail to impress
The No.4 position is still up for grabs, and although Vijay Shankar is the frontrunner, KL Rahul had a brilliant opportunity to make a case for himself here in the former’s absence. He however chopped a Boult delivery onto his stumps.
Another who didn’t impress was Dinesh Karthik, who made just 4, and also dropped a tough chance off Kuldeep’s bowling. Would Rishabh Pant have been a better choice? Only time will tell, but currently it appears that the selectors erred in not backing Pant.