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.
Australian batsmen make it count.
Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis all spent quality time in the middle in Australia’s final warm-up match. Khawaja recovered from a knee strain to top score with 89 and Marsh looked in good nick as he scored a fluent 34. Glenn Maxwell played a more circumspect innings as he scored a run a ball 36. Marcus Stoinis hit Australia’s only six of the innings in his 32 (30).
The Australian batting line up looks settled and in form. In addition, Steve Smith is coming off a well made century against hosts England in the first warm up game. David Warner too is in blistering form- he comfortably ended up as the highest run scorer in IPL despite playing far fewer games than his nearest rival.
Failure to convert starts haunt Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka posted a below par total of 239 against the Aussies. All of their top eight batsmen got into double digits, but no one really kicked on. The lack of intent in the batsmen was also a worrying factor- only one, Dhananjaya de Silva, scored at greater than a run a ball. There are some talented batsmen in the Lankan ranks, and they must take responsibility if they are to pose any kind of threat to other teams in the World Cup.
England batsmen flaunt their aggressive brand of cricket.
Since the 2015 World Cup, England have undergone major changes to the way they approach an ODI. The fiery brand of cricket is now their forte as they thrive on aggression. In the last 4 years, the world has seen five 400+ scores in an ODI and England account for four of those. Their openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow had strike rates of 193 and 177 respectively against Afghanistan in their final warm up game. Going into the World Cup, are England going to tone down and account for crunch situations and play as the situation demands? or are they going to continue playing their fearless brand of cricket and stick to the mantra of attack is the best form of defence.
Australia tick all the right boxes.
Just 10 months ago, few would’ve had Australia as one of their contenders for winning this World Cup. Fast forward to May 2019, Australia seem to be the team to beat at the mega event. Having won four of the last five World Cups, the Australians know how to win tournaments. They also appear to peaking at the right time. The batting order seems to be stronger with the return of Warner and Smith. Their bowling attack is also one of the best in the tournament, with the likes of Cummins, Starc and Coulter-Nile all match winners on their day.
Written by Lakshman Prabhu and edited by The Cricket Blog Staff.