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)

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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

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

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”