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.

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 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 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.

Wiaan Mulder called up to Proteas squad for 2019 Sri Lanka Tests

South Africa have called up all rounder Wiaan Mulder to their squad for the two test series against Sri Lanka at home later this month. The 20 year old is the only addition to the squad that convincingly beat Pakistan 3-0 at home.

Against Pakistan, South Africa fielded a 4 man attack in the form of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier and Keshav Maharaj in the opener at Centurion. Olivier, who only got into the XI because of Vernon Philander’s injury, effectively made himself undroppable with a 11fer at SuperSport Park. When Philander returned, they chose to go with an all pace attack in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, with Maharaj having to make way.

In the third test at the Wanderers, the Proteas were without skipper Faf du Plessis, which allowed Zubayr Hamza to make his debut. The Cobras batsman gave a decent account of himself on debut, and it could well be a shoot out between him and Theunis de Bruyn as to whom makes way when the captain comes back. Continue reading “Wiaan Mulder called up to Proteas squad for 2019 Sri Lanka Tests”

Australia’s Test Squad against Sri Lanka 2019- Will Pucovski Receives Maiden Test Call Up

Here is the 13 man roster announced by Australia’s selectors to do duty for the national team feature in the two test matches against Sri Lanka beginning January 24.

Stung by the poor performances of several players in the recent 2-1 loss to India (their first ever loss at home in the test format to the nation), the selectors have wielded the axe, with the likes of Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, his brother Mitchell, and Peter Handscomb all shown the door.

There is a maiden call up to the national squad for talented youngster Will Pucovski. The 20 year old has always been regarded as one for the future, despite his limited first class experience, but recently took a break from the game owing to mental health issues.

Joining Pucowski in the national squad are the Queensland pair of Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw. The bowling united has however remained unchanged, with Peter Siddle also retaining his spot in the squad.

The first of the two test matches will be played at Brisbane (Jan 24-28), with the other to be played in the Australian capital city of Canberra (Feb 1-5). Neither venue hosted a test during India’s tour Down Under. Continue reading “Australia’s Test Squad against Sri Lanka 2019- Will Pucovski Receives Maiden Test Call Up”

Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka Third Asia Cup Match Report-2018

Afghanistan defeated Sri Lanka by 91 runs in the Group B match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Monday and with that, they knocked out five-time champions out of the Asia Cup. Continue reading “Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka Third Asia Cup Match Report-2018”

Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup Third Match Preview-2018

Sri Lanka after suffering a humiliating loss by 137 runs in their opening fixture of the Asia cup against Bangladesh will be looking to bounce back strongly against Afghanistan and keep their Super four hopes alive in the third match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on September 17.

Both teams have faced each other twice in the ODIS, with the Lankans get the better of Afghanistan by winning 2-0.

However in the ICC World Cup 2015 at Dunedin, where the two teams faced each other, the Islanders were set a target of 232 runs by Afghans and chased it down comfortably with 4 wickets to spare.

The Lankan fielding in the first match was left a lot to be desired as they spilled 2 catches.

The only bright spot for them was the return of their ace bowler Lasith Malinga who on his come back game claimed 4 wickets.

Afghanistan will be brimming with confidence after their 2-1 ODI series win against the host Ireland.

Their batting in the one dayers has not been up to the mark as they have failed on an regular basis.

They would be banking on the experience of Mohammad Shahzbad and the leading run getter and wicket taker in the ODI’s Mohammad Nabi to come good.

Their skipper Asghar Afghan has pulled his team out from an precarious positions in the past.

Their spin twins, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rehman will be their main threat as they are likely to create an impact on slow tracks in the UAE.