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Vijayhardik reviews this week’s World Cup matches that had quite a few surprises. An exclusive report for Different Truths.
The current edition of the ICC World Cup has constantly defied expectation. It is the underlying theme of the tournament so far.
Quite a few predictions were made before the World Cup got underway. While some of them were holding good initially, there were quite a few which were way off the mark. One of the more prominent predictions before the tournament began was that it was going to be a bowlers’ nightmare after seeing England’s ODI record at home. But this World Cup in the recent days has been witness to many keen contests between bat and ball.
The title contenders India, Australia, New Zealand and England were sitting pretty in the top four, on course for sealing a semi-final spot.
Apart from the dismal show of South Africa, the World Cup was ambling along at a sedate pace. Nothing out of the ordinary. The title contenders India, Australia, New Zealand and England were sitting pretty in the top four, on course for sealing a semi-final spot.
A new lease of life was injected throwing the World Cup wide open after a few unexpected results and performances. It began with the match against West Indies and Bangladesh. Though Bangladesh had earlier beaten South Africa in the tournament, it was viewed as an aberration. In the contest between West Indies was still the more fancied side among the teams to secure a victory.
On one the smaller grounds in England at Taunton, the hard-hitting batting line up of the West Indies against the slow bowling attack of Bangladesh, it was a foregone conclusion for many that the result would be a Windies victory. For a while, it did seem so.
The flamboyant and big-hitting Windies batsmen were going hard at the Bangladesh bowlers.
The flamboyant and big-hitting Windies batsmen were going hard at the Bangladesh bowlers. With their score around 240 at the beginning of the 40th over and seven wickets in hand, it seemed they would amass a score in excess of 350 making it a difficult chase for Bangladesh. But the medium pace of Saifuddin and the cutters of Mustafizur managed to bring down the West Indies total to 321 which was a much better proposition than something in excess of 350.
With enough runs on board and their quicks who had caught the eye of experts and fans alike with their fast bowling, Bangladesh had their work cut out. However, the West Indies bowlers lacked the intent shown in their previous matches and the Bangladesh openers Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar took advantage of it and gave their team a quick start.
While Sarkar got out, Tamim continued with Shakib al Hasan for the company to build their run chase. Once they got together, it did not look like West Indies was going to get a wicket the way both were batting. But a bit of luck saw Tamim run out of his luck and in the next over Mushifiqur Rahim was caught down the leg side by the keeper.
Bangladesh from there on ran away with the game courtesy of a second consecutive hundred from Shakib al Hasan and a blinder of an innings from Liton Das taking Bangladesh over the line with 7 wickets and almost as many overs to spare.
Two wickets in two overs created a chance for West Indies to come back into the game. Surprisingly, West Indies let Bangladesh off the hook. Their body language portrayed their disbelief and it reflected in the bowling as it became more erratic after the two quick wickets. Bangladesh from there on ran away with the game courtesy of a second consecutive hundred from Shakib al Hasan and a blinder of an innings from Liton Das taking Bangladesh over the line with 7 wickets and almost as many overs to spare.
A few days later, Australia, however, followed the template of scoring in excess of 350 and batting the opposition out of the game and follow it up with a bowling performance that saw them through victory perfectly against Bangladesh. While Australia stuck to their guns in the match against them with a big Warner century, Bangladesh too did not fold over. They gave Australia a scare for a while during their chase and managed to score 333/8 in response to Australia’s 381/5. It is exciting times for Bangladesh cricket!
The surprise of the tournament which threw the championship wide open was the game between Sri Lanka and the hosts England.
The surprise of the tournament which threw the championship wide open was the game between Sri Lanka and the hosts England. England was in top four holding on to the fourth position while Sri Lanka after weather played spoilsport was more or less trying to remain relevant in the competition.
With England’s ODI track record at home over the last couple of years and their performance in the World Cup, England were outright favourites to win the match. After Sri Lanka decided to bat first, the decision proved to be disastrous. Sri Lanka had lost two wickets with 3 runs on the board. Scorecard read 3/2.
After that disastrous start to their innings, Sri Lanka began rebuilding their innings. Good contributions from the middle order batsmen helped the scoreboard ticking
After that disastrous start to their innings, Sri Lanka began rebuilding their innings. Good contributions from the middle order batsmen helped the scoreboard ticking while Angelo Mathews was holding up one end playing the role of an anchor. Sri Lanka looked like reaching a score of respectability when they lost their 6th wicket on the score of 190.
Now it was all up to Mathews to take Sri Lanka to a decent total. He took charge of the innings in the final few overs scoring a brilliant unbeaten 85 in the process and Sri Lanka scraped through to 232/9 in their 50 overs.
It was game over for Sri Lanka. With their track record England would make light of this run chase. I bet many people would have switched off televisions sets and online streaming applications after the Lankan innings. But the result came as a welcome surprise to many Sri Lankan cricket fans over the world.
Chasing 233 to win, England did not have the best of starts. Malinga knocked out both their openers Bairstow and Vince inside the powerplay. Now it was up to the English batsmen to showcase their technique and temperament on a slow and bouncy pitch to take their team. While Joe Root put up a fight with a handy half-century worth 57, he got out at an inopportune moment.
Sri Lankan spinner Dhananjaya de Silva ran through England’s lower order before the quicks came into the attack to complete the formalities and handing Sri Lanka an improbable win.
It left the match hanging in balance. With the power hitters left to take the chase to its conclusion, it was a tricky situation. With Stokes at the helm of affairs, the innings was progressing well until Moeen Ali decided to hole out at long-on. After he threw his wicket away, Sri Lankan spinner Dhananjaya de Silva ran through England’s lower order before the quicks came into the attack to complete the formalities and handing Sri Lanka an improbable win.
The World Cup was not satisfied with that. It wanted to keep the hearts of the fans racing. So, it dished out a couple of nail-biting thrillers. New Zealand and India, the two teams which remained unbeaten in the tournament were facing off against Afghanistan and West Indies respectively.
India was facing Afghanistan after a victory in the must-win match against Pakistan.
India was facing Afghanistan after a victory in the must-win match against Pakistan. Afghanistan having lost all its previous matches was playing for pride. India was supposed to win this match without much sweat. Complacency or not, the match turned out to be a thriller that had everyone on the edge of their seat.
After superlative batting performances in previous matches, everyone was expecting an encore from India. But Afghanistan did not agree with it. They pulled out a spectacular bowling performance and were aided a little bit by the slow scoring by Jadhav and Dhoni during the middle overs to restrict the mighty Indian batting line up to a below par 224/8.
While India picked up a few wickets, Afghanistan too was playing well. They were going steady at 106/2 in 28 overs before Bumrah came in changed the complexion of the match with a double wicket maiden.
It was up to India to live up to the tag of title contender and show the world they could win a game under any conditions. While India picked up a few wickets, Afghanistan too were playing well. They were going steady at 106/2 in 28 overs before Bumrah came in changed the complexion of the match with a double wicket maiden.
His two brought the game back on even keel. It was now a game of cat and mouse between experience and inspiration. Will the experience of the Indian team hold it good stead and swing the match in India’s favour or would an inspired Afghan unit script history?
With 16 required off the last over with 3 wickets remaining Mohammed Shami with a hat-trick delivered India to victory by a narrow margin of 11 runs.
Ultimately, experience won in the end as India held their nerve and kept chipping away at the wickets and kept building pressure on Afghanistan. With 16 required off the last over with 3 wickets remaining Mohammed Shami with a hat-trick delivered India to victory by a narrow margin of 11 runs.
The other match of the day between New Zealand and West Indies did not want to miss out on the fun and gave the match between India and Afghanistan a run for its money and beat it by a mile.
New Zealand coming into the match after a great game of cricket against South Africa where Kane Williamson took them over the line in the last over were taking on a fatigued West Indies.
It was a match where the fortunes of the teams swung like a pendulum. West Indies had New Zealand on the mat at 7/2 after both the openers departed without scoring.
It was a match where the fortunes of the teams swung like a pendulum. West Indies had New Zealand on the mat at 7/2 after both the openers departed without scoring. Then came out Kane and Ross into the middle and Williamson started where he left off against South Africa and scored another magnificent century. New Zealand riding on his 148 posted a total of 291/8 in the allotted overs.
After a similar start to the West Indies innings, Gayle and Hetmyer took the reins of the innings. Biffing the ball out of the park, West Indies had raced to 142/2 in just 22 overs. West Indies seemed to have overcome the Bangladesh debacle and were on course for victory.
But there was a twist in the tale. New Zealand bowlers found their vigour and ran through the Windies batting line up leaving them tottering at 165/7 in 28 overs. It was curtains for them. If people had decided the outcome by then, yet another surprise was as Carlos Brathwaite brought his batting pyrotechnics as he scored an improbable century bringing West Indies in touch with a victory.
New Zealand needed one wicket. West Indies needed 6 runs. Seven balls were remaining. It was quite nerve-wracking.
New Zealand needed one wicket. West Indies needed 6 runs. Seven balls were remaining. It was quite nerve-wracking. And then Brathwaite holed out to long-on ending the West Indian hopes of victory and the match. Alas, his breath-taking innings went in vain.
With England’s loss against Australia yesterday evening, the permutations and combinations for the final semi-final slot have shot up big time. Now it is a three-way race between Asian teams Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to gobble up the final semi-final spot provided England loses the rest of it matches.
This week of cricket has brought the World Cup alive!
Photos sourced by the author from the Internet