England pack their bags – but not just yet
Hapless England are officially out of quarter-final contention after sinking to their fourth loss in five World Cup outings, a 15-run loss to outsiders Bangladesh. Chasing 276 for victory, England crumbled to be all out for 260 in the 49th over. Ian Bell (63), Jos Butler (65) and Chris Woakes (42 not out) provided some resistance, but it was an all-too-familiar collapse. Besieged skipper Eoin Morgan was out for a three-ball duck, while their last four wickets fell for just 22 runs after Butler and Woakes had put them in a handy position.
But the torment is not over – there’s still one match to play. On Friday, England takes on Afghanistan – who, like England, only have a win over Scotland to show for their efforts to date – at the SCG, where thousands may turn out just to heckle the Poms. It seems even more incongruous now that a player like Ben Stokes, one of the few English players to enhance their reputation in Australia during the 2013/14 summer, could be left out of this incompetent squad.
Bangladesh triumph reflects power of sport
It undoubtedly ranks as one of Bangladesh’s greatest cricketing moments. Mahmudullah’s superb 103 and a swashbuckling 89 by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim pushed them through to a competitive 7/275 – and it proved too competitive for England. Bangladesh bowling was outstanding, in particular Rubel Hossain, who removed big names Ian Bell and Eion Morgan in the 27th over before finishing off the game by bowling Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the 49th.
The victory has catapulted Bangladesh into the quarter-finals, but the result meant so much more to the nations as a whole. Politicians relaxed a long-running national strike to allow its residents to celebrate, the first such instance since the shutdown began at the start of February and a blockade that started in early-January. It once again proved few things can unite a nation like a sporting triumph.
Dhaka rocking pic.twitter.com/aA1N8btYKD
— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) March 9, 2015
Japan gets in on the act
If there’s one country’s media that loves to savage its sportsmen when they fail, it’s England’s. Likewise, the rest of their traditional rivals – led by Australia, of course – have dined out on the Lions’ spectacular World Cup failure. But an unlikely burn came from a true minnow of the cricketing landscape, with Cricket Japan trolling the humiliated Brits.
— Japan Cricket Assoc. (@CricketJapan) March 9, 2015
Never one to let an opportunity slide by, Kevin Pietersen waded into the hilarious England-bashing sidelight.
Dear @CricketJapan – please can I play you by myself on my way over to Aus tomorrow?
— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) March 9, 2015
India flex muscles but they need a test
Defending champs India continued their unbeaten march through the pool stages, destroying Ireland by eight wickets with 13 overs to spare at Adelaide Oval. Ireland battled to 259 all out after 49 overs, with captain William Porterfield (67) and Niall O’Brien (75) the standouts. Mohammad Shami took 3/41 off nine and Ravi Ashwin pinned Ireland down with 2/38 off 10. India made short work of the total: Rohit Sharma mad 64 and Shikhar Dhawan blasted 100 off 85 balls in an opening stand of 174, before Virat Kohli (44 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (33 not out) finished things off.
But as impressive as they’ve been, their opponents have offered little in their confrontations – particularly fellow Pool B heavyweights Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa. India are gagging for a challenge, one that’s unlikely to come in the form of Zimbabwe on Saturday or looming quarter-final opponents Bangladesh. It’s a less than ideal preparation for being thrown straight into the cauldron with a near-certain semi-final showdown against Australia.
Frantic race for Pool B quarter spots
West Indies, Pakistan and Ireland are locked in a three-way dogfight for the remaining two quarter-final places in Pool B. Pakistan and Ireland are on six points and the West Indies on four, but the Windies have a near-certain victory against UAE in Napier while Ireland and Pakistan face off in Adelaide. The winner of the latter clash will grab third spot (and a quarter-final date with Australia) but the last place will come down to net run-rates. Pakistan’s (-0.194) is the best of the trio, with West Indies next (-0.511) and Ireland well behind (-1.014). So it’s virtually a must-win for Ireland on Sunday, but it could go down to the wire if NRR is required to separate Pakistan and West Indies, who should get a nice boost to their percentages.
Stud of the day
It’s hard to go past Rubel Hossain’s bowling performance against England, particularly holding his nerve to mop up the tail in the penultimate over.
Sri Lanka warms up for its quarter-final showdown with South Africa by taking on Scotland at Bellerive Oval today, while the Proteas meet UAE on Thursday.