Whitewash in Christchurch, washout in Brisbane
Saturday’s World Cup action kicked off with unfancied West Indies’ 150-run upset of Pakistan at Hagley Oval. Meanwhile, Australia and Bangladesh were left to twiddle their thumbs all day as a south-east Queensland deluge prevented any play at the Gabba.
Underdone Aussies set for huge Kiwi test
Australia will head into their showdown with New Zealand at Eden Park with just one match – against England two weeks earlier – under their belts. The Black Caps have already had three outings. Incredibly, this will be the neighbouring countries’ first ODI encounter since 2011, while at this stage it shapes as a riveting final rehearsal.
Windies back in the mix
Upset by Ireland five days earlier, West Indies put their campaign back on track with a punishing defeat of Pakistan. The Windies put 6/310 on the board, despite Danesh Ramdin top-scoring with a modest 51 – six of their batsmen scored 38 or more. Andre Russell hit a stunning 42 off just 13, including four sixes. Jerome Taylor then decimated Pakistan’s top order with two wickets in the first over and another in the third, finishing with figures of 3/15. Russell (3/33) and Sulieman Benn (2/39) chipped in to rout Pakistan for 160 in the 39th over. A quarter-final berth is now the Windies’ for the taking, while a victory over South Africa on Friday could see them finish second in Pool B.
Pak your bags
Pakistan were awful in every department, failing to capitalise on a strong start that had the Windies on the ropes at 2/28 with multiple dropped chances in the field. Staring down a target of 311, they sunk to an unprecedented 4/1 – yep, that’s four wickets down for just one run. The match was a foregone conclusion at that stage, despite an 80-run rearguard stand from Sohaib Maqsood (50) and Umar Akmal (59). Tough assignments against Zimbabwe and Ireland will determine whether Pakistan will be hanging around past mid-March.
Tough day for Bravo
Although it was a great day for his side, Darren Bravo had a tough time of it in Christchurch. Hit in the head by a Younis Khan return while on 30, Bravo was forced to retire hurt on 49 after suffering a lower-grade hamstring tear. He was then banned for two matches by ICC match referee David Boon for an “audible obscenity whilst batting”.
India stake their claim
After a dismal summer in Australia pre-tournament, World Cup holders India have scored two crushing wins over the two other main contenders in their pool, following up their 76-run win over Pakistan with a 130-run drubbing of highly-fancied South Africa. A sparkling century by Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane’s superb 79 off 60 balls propelled India to 7/307, while the bowling of Ravi Ashwin (3/41), Mohammed Shami (2/30) and Mohit Sharma (2/31), and a pair of brilliant run outs, saw South Africa skittled for 177 in the 41st over. MS Dhoni’s side is in this World Cup up to their eyeballs – and neither Australia nor fellow Pool A powerhouses New Zealand will be looking forward to semi-final showdown with the defending champs.
Proteas on their heels
Scratchy against Zimbabwe, South Africa were obliterated by India despite going into the MCG heavyweight clash as warm favourites. Faf du Plessis’ 55 was the only score over 30 in a disastrous 177 all out; their encounter with West Indies on Friday shapes as tournament-defining for the Proteas, who have now slipped behind New Zealand to the third line of betting.
Afghanistan courageous, Sri Lanka on the brink
World Cup debutants Afghanistan have certainly turned heads with their performances to date, backing up a solid showing against Bangladesh with a display against Sri Lanka in Dunedin that at various stages looked like developing into one of the great boilovers. All out for 232 in the final over after a late collapse, Afghanistan had both Sri Lanka openers out for golden ducks, while they were struggling at 4/51 before Mahela Jayawardene (100) and Angelo Matthews (44) rescued the heavy favourites with a 126-run stand. But when both superstars departed in the space of six balls, Afghanistan were back in the frame. A brilliant 47 off 26 balls from Thisara Perera steered a relieved Sri Lanka to a four-wicket win with just 10 balls to spare.
Crowd catch stunner
Another Kiwi fan is the mix for a big slice of a potential $1 million prize pool after snaring a one-handed catch in the stands at Dunedin’s University Oval. Quite remarkably, the catch – from Afghanistan’s Asghar Stanikzai’s sole six – was the third in 88 tournament sixes to that point to be gloved one-handed by a crowd member.
Stud of the day
Opener Shikhar Dhawan’s 137 off 146 balls – including 16 boundaries and two sixes – was a match-winner for India. After a dismal run of form in the Tri-Series, Dhawan now has 200 runs in two World Cup outings, while he has posted 60 or more in nine of 20 ODIs in the past 12 months. He shapes as a key figure in India’s defence of the trophy.
- West Indies’ 150-run winning margin was their biggest ever against Pakistan.
- Pakistan’s loss of their first four wickets with just one run on the board eclipsed Canada’s 4/4 against Zimbabwe in 2006 as the lowest score to be four wickets down in an ODI.
- Mahela Jayawardene equalled the great Sanath Jayasuria’s Sri Lankan World Cup record of nine 50-plus scores.
Embattled England take on Scotland in Christchurch on Monday – and given the respective sides’ performances to date, the result may not be a foregone conclusion. The West Indies-Zimbabwe clash in Canberra on Tuesday is also vital, as is the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh encounter at the MCG on Thursday.