Tuesday 23 January 2018 / 05:11 PM

Will's World Cup diary – Day 20, 21 & 22

‘Big Show’ powers Aussies towards second spot

A record-breaking maiden ODI century by Glenn Maxwell inspired Australia to a high-quality 64-run win over gallant Sri Lanka at the SCG, virtually sealing second spot in Pool A and avoiding a quarter-final showdown with South Africa. After both openers fell cheaply, Steve Smith (72) and Michael Clarke (68) steadied the ship with a 134-run stand, before ‘The Big Show’ produced an extraordinary 51-ball century – the fastest ever by an Australian. Shane Watson’s 67 off 41 balls at No.6 was timely for player and team, while Brad Haddin chipped in with 25 off 9 as the hosts reached a mammoth 9/376. James Faulkner was run out after facing just one ball, but the performances of Clarke and Watson were hugely encouraging as the Aussies’ campaign begins to pick up momentum.

Sri Lanka’s chase was impressive but was hampered by Dinesh Chandimal retiring hurt, and they were ultimately bowled out in the 47th over. Faulkner delivered with the ball, taking 3/48 off 9, while Mitchell Starc’s 2/29 off 8.2 overs finished off the innings. Shane Watson (1/71 off 7), Xavier Doherty (0/60 off 7) and Mitchell Johnson (2/62 off 9) copped the treatment from Sri Lanka’s batsmen as question marks hover over aspects of the tournament favourites’ attack.

Sri Lanka can still do damage

The looming South Africa-Sri Lanka showdown promises to be the pick of the quarter-finals if the latter’s performance against Australia is any gauge. Sri Lanka made a fine fist of a massive run chase, with Dilshan (62 off 60) smashing Mitchell Johnson for six fours in one over, Sangakarra (104 off 107) notching his third successive century and Chandimal (52 not out off 24) in ominous form before his injury departure took the wind out of the innings. They represent formidable likely opponents for the Proteas.

Vettori stars as Kiwis cruise against plucky Afghanistan

There was a collective groan at Napier’s McLean Park and around New Zealand when Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bat – the fans were gagging for a full 50 overs of explosive batting from their heroes and the Black Caps were desperate for time in the middle. As it transpired, the minnows put up a decent fight, reaching 186 all out in the 48th over as Shenwari (54) and Zadran (56) dug in. The mercurial Daniel Vettori stole the show with the ridiculous figures of 4/18 off 10, while Trent Boult claimed 3/34 and Corey Anderson picked up 2/38.

Brendon McCullum showed no signs of altering his mindset, blasting 42 off 19 balls before chopping on. Martin Guptill (57) and Ross Taylor (24 not out) built up a little much-needed confidence despite not looking overly convincing, while the similarly out-of-touch Grant Elliott was run out for 19 as the Kiwis eased to a six-wicket win with 14 overs to spare.

Boilover keeps Pakistan alive

Pakistan produced one of the shocks of the tournament to date – and a desperately-needed one for their spluttering campaign – by subduing powerhouses South Africa by 20 runs. Limping to 222 all out in the 47th over, Pakistan was on course to be run down easily as Hashim Amla (38) and Faf du Plessis eased into their work, the Proteas 1/67 in the 10th. But an incredible collapse left the overwhelming favourites on the canvas, reeling at 6/102. AB de Villiers (77 off 58) almost pulled off a remarkable rescue mission, but the Proteas were skittled for 202 in the 34th as Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz all picked up three wickets. Barring a pair of Ireland boilovers against India and Pakistan, South Africa will take second spot in Pool B – but their inconsistency is a major source of concern ahead of the knockout stages.

Thriller puts Ireland in quarters mix

Already involved in two of the best games of the World Cup to date against West Indies and UAE, Ireland’s thrilling campaign rolled on with a 5-run win over fellow quarter-final hopefuls Zimbabwe in Hobart. Ed Joyce’s 112 off 103 balls and Andy Balbirnie’s 97 off 79 set up Ireland’s 8/331, but similarly outstanding knocks of 121 off 91 by Brendan Taylor and 96 off 83 by Sean Williams had Zimbabwe on course for a momentous victory. Their last four wickets fell for 26 runs, however, all out for 326 with three balls of their innings left. Assuming they can’t topple India, Ireland’s pool stage-closing encounter with Pakistan is a virtual playoff for a quarter-final berth.  

Nervy India get the job done

It was far from convincing, but India remained unbeaten in an ultimately comfortable four-wicket defeat of the erratic West Indies at the WACA. The Windies were skittled for 182 in the 45th over, with No.9 Jason Holder (57) the only batsman to make more than 26. India lost regular wickets and were a tad nervous at 6/134, but captain MS Dhoni (45 not out) saw his team home with 11 overs to spare.

Stud of the day

Glenn Maxwell shapes as potentiallytheplayer of the World Cup, hitting form at the right time and producing a match-winning knock in the crucial victory over Sri Lanka. His 102 off 53 included four sixes and 10 fours, typically producing some of the most inventive strokes you could ever hope to see. A freak.

Fun facts

  • Brendon McCullum has scored 229 runs in the first 10 overs at this World Cup off just 108 balls.
  • Kumar Sangakarra is the only player in World Cup history to score three centuries in a row.
  • Pakistan keeper Sarfraz Ahmed notched six dismissals against South Africa, an ODI record and just the second time it has been achieved in World Cups.

Looking ahead

Sudden-death action comes early as England and Bangladesh face off at the Adelaide Oval today, with the winner almost assured of fourth spot in Pool A. India and Ireland meet in Hamilton on Tuesday, while Sri Lanka wrap up their pool campaign against Scotland in Hobart on Wednesday. 

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