Minnows light up the Cup
The associate nations justified their inclusion in the World Cup once again with a pair of midweek thrillers. The Ireland-UAE clash at the Gabba and Afghanistan-Scotland in Dunedin both went down the final over, while 36 wickets fell and 978 runs were scored in a pair of ODI classics.
Sri Lanka back on track
After being walloped by the Black Caps in the tournament-opener, Sri Lanka are warming up nicely and can still make a dent in the knockout stages. Their 92-run win over Bangladesh at the MCG was comprehensive, with Tillakaratne Dilshan smashing 22 fours in his dazzling 161 off 146 balls, while the great Kumar Sangakkara cracked 105 off just 76 deliveries. Defending their 1/332, Sri Lanka’s bowler then did the job, skittling Bangladesh for 240 in 47 overs. There were five separate wicket-tackers, Lasith Malinga finishing with impressive figures of 3/35 off nine. Intriguing showdowns with England and Australia over the next two Sundays will determine Sri Lanka’s Pool A position.
Afghans create history against gallant Scots
Afghanistan produced one of the great back-from-the-dead World Cup performances to edge Scotland by one wicket with three balls remaining in a sensational clash at University Oval. They had Scotland reeling at 8/144 in the 37th over, but some superb lower-order hitting carried the Scots through to 210 all out as the made it through to 50 overs.
Seemingly deflated by their inability to take advantage of their strong position, Afghanistan’s batting order capitulated. Seven of their top nine batsmen departed for single-figure scores, with opener Javed Ahmadi (51) and Samiullah Shenwari (96) the only players to offer any resistance. After crumbling to 8/132, Shenwari’s 60-run stand with No.10 Hamid Hassan kept Afghanistan in the hunt, but when Shenwari’s magnificent innings ended they still needed 20 runs off 19 balls with only one wicket in hand. The watchful Hassan (15 off 39) and No.11 Shapoor Zadran (12 off 10) superbly saw Afghanistan through to their first-ever World Cup win over the shattered Scots.
Nervy Ireland remain unbeaten
Heavily favoured to wipe the floor with UAE after their first-up boilover against the West Indies, Ireland needed the batting heroics of Kevin O’Brien and Gary Wilson to get them home at the Gabba. UAE racked up 9/278 in their 50 overs, including a wonderful 106 off 83 from No.6 Shaiman Anwar.
Ireland was on the ropes at 4/97 in the 26th over, still needing 182 off 148 balls. But Wilson (80 off 69) and Kevin O’Brien (50 off 25) – the century-making hero of Ireland’s 2011 World Cup upset of England – steered them into a handy position. After both were dismissed by Mohammed Naveed, it was left to tailenders Alex Cusack and George Dockrell to nudge Ireland to a two-wicket victory with just four balls to spare.
Stud of the day
There were some magnificent individual displays over the last two exhilarating days of action, but it’s hard to go past Afghanistan hero Shenwari. His 96 off 147 balls held the innings together while it was all crumbling around him, smacking seven fours and five sixes to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Brilliant stuff.
- Afghanistan’s triumph was just the fifth one-wicket win in World Cup history.
- For just the second time in World Cup history, the ninth wicket (over both innings) added more than 100 runs.
- Sangakarra became the second keeper after Adam Gilchrist to notch 50 dismissals.
In arguably the most important Pool B clash remaining, South Africa and West Indies face off at the SCG with second spot in the group potentially on the line. It’s a tremendous appetiser for Saturday’s trans-Tasman blockbuster in Auckland, while India also takes on UAE in Perth tomorrow. The Sri Lanka-England encounter in Wellington on Sunday will be a doozey, and the Pakistan-Zimbabwe clash at the Gabba will have a massive bearing on the quarter-finals picture.