Final league stage matches: Bad weather the bugbear

After going through a rigorous league stage, four abandoned matches and some edge-of-the-seat thrillers, India, Australia, England and New Zealand made it to the last four. This edition surpassed the previous highest number of washed-out matches in a World Cup — two in 1992 and 2003 — and the weather played an increasingly important role as the tournament wore on.

India’s captain Virat Kohli interviews team-mate Rohit Sharma after the win against Sri Lanka. Rohit scored a record fifth hundred in the World Cup.   -  AP

A run fest for India

Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking fifth hundred — he crossed Kumar Sangakkara’s four centuries in a World Cup — coupled with K. L. Rahul’s first ODI century since his debut ton against Zimbabwe in 2016, catapulted India to a crushing seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Headingley in Leeds.

Needing 265, Rohit and Rahul put on 189 for the opening wicket to make light work of the chase. The duo shed its cloak of caution and batted with freedom to put the Sri Lankan bowlers, Lasith Malinga in particular, under the pump. The veteran seamer went for 82 in his 10 overs for the lone wicket of Rahul, but the damage had been done by then.

Rahul struck 11 fours and a six during his knock and was bettered only by Rohit, whose 14 fours and two sixes were dotted with glorious cover-drives, whips through mid-wicket, and a one-handed lofted shot over mid-on.

Earlier, Angelo Mathews hit a fighting hundred and his 124-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne kept Sri Lanka in the game after it was four down inside 12 overs. However, Jasprit Bumrah’s three for 37 ensured the Lankan scoring rate never got out of hand.

After going through a rigorous league stage, four abandoned matches and some edge-of-the-seat thrillers, India, Australia, England and New Zealand made it to the last four. This edition surpassed the previous highest number of washed-out matches in a World Cup — two in 1992 and 2003 — and the weather played an increasingly important role as the tournament wore on.

The scores: Sri Lanka 264 for seven in 50 overs (Angelo Mathews 113, Lahiru Thirimanne 53, Jasprit Bumrah three for 37) lost to India 265 for three in 43.3 overs (Lokesh Rahul 111, Rohit Sharma 103). Man-of-the-match: Rohit Sharma.

Australia trips

South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis looks like a boxer as he celebrates his century against Australia. The bat had dropped out of his hand.   -  AP

In its last league match, Australia lost narrowly by 10 runs to South Africa at Old Trafford.

David Warner’s third hundred of the World Cup went in vain as Australia succumbed to its second loss in the group stage. Aaron Finch and Co. were in the driver’s seat at one point when Warner and Alex Carey (85) were taking the South African bowlers to the cleaners. But the duo’s dismissal put the brakes on the scoring rate. Kagiso Rabada was the pick of the South African bowlers, returning figures of three for 56.

Earlier, Faf du Plessis made 100 and Rassie van der Dussen struck his career-best 95 to help South Africa to 325 for six. Mitchell Starc equalled Australian legend Glenn McGrath’s World Cup tournament record of 26 wickets, set in the 2007 edition in the Caribbean, with a return of two for 59.

The scores: South Africa 325 for six in 50 overs (Faf du Plessis 100, Rassie van der Dussen 95) beat Australia 315 in 50 overs (David Warner 122, Alex Carey 85, Kagiso Rabada three for 56). Man-of-the-match: Faf du Plessis.

Afridi spells success

We are well aware of the exploits of one Shahid Afridi. This is the new Afridi, Shaheen Shah! The left-arm paceman from Pakistan picked up half a dozen Bangladesh wickets.   -  AP

 

Shaheen Afridi took a record six-wicket haul as Pakistan thrashed Bangladesh by 94 runs to end its World Cup 2019 campaign on a winning note.

Afridi, who became the youngest ever bowler at 19 years and 90 days to claim a five-wicket haul in the World Cup, ran through Bangladesh’s line-up which folded for 221 with Shakib Al Hasan once again registering a top score of 64.

Earlier, Pakistan, buoyed by Imam-ul-Haq’s sixth ODI ton, posted a challenging 315 on the board. He was ably supported by Babar Azam and Imad Wasim.

For Bangladesh, Mustafizur Rahman was the pick of the bowlers, grabbing five wickets for 75. However, it mattered little in the end.

The scores: Pakistan 315 for nine in 50 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 100, Babar Azam 96, Mustafizur Rahman five for 75) beat Bangladesh 221 in 44.1 overs (Shakib Al Hasan 64, Shaheen Afridi six for 35). Player of the match: Shaheen Shah Afridi.

West Indies rides on Hope

Shai Hope’s runs at the top of the order helped as West Indies put up a 300-plus score and quelled a fighting Afghanistan.   -  Reuters

 

Ikram Ali Khil and Rahmat Shah ran the West Indies close but Jason Holder and Co. rode on Shai Hope’s 77 and a seven-wicket haul between Carlos Brathwaite and Kemar Roach to register a 23-run win at Headingley in Leeds.

Earlier, a late flourish from captain Holder and Nicholas Pooran powered the West Indies to 311. Hope’s 92-ball knock, including two sixes and six fours, was the fulcrum of the Caribbean batting.

In response, Ali Khil and Rahmat struck fifties to lead Afghanistan’s riposte but Roach and Brathwaite broke the back of the chase with a spell that consigned Afghanistan to its ninth defeat in this World Cup.

The scores: West Indies 311 for six in 50 overs (Shai Hope 77, Nicholas Pooran 58, Evin Lewis 58, Jason Holder 45) in 50 overs beat Afghanistan 288 in 50 overs (Ikram 86, Rahmat 62, Brathwaite four for 63, Kemar Roach three for 37). Player of the match: Shai Hope.

England’s commanding show

Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have given England flying starts.   -  Reuters

 

It was another dominant performance from England, after having defeated India in its previous outing. Jonny Bairstow scored his second century in a row, typically muscling balls around the ground, to lay the foundation for a 119-run win.

Positioned at 194 for one in the 31st over, England seemed set for a mammoth 50-over total but it added only 111 runs in the final 119 deliveries, for the loss of eight more wickets.

New Zealand’s innings could not gather any momentum as wickets kept falling from the outset. Before Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor could repair the early damage and keep their side in the hunt, they were run out. Williamson was unlucky to be stranded outside the crease at the non-striker’s end as the ball brushed Mark Woods’ fingers on its way to the stumps after a drive from Taylor. Taylor gifted his wicket away soon after, trying to take a risky second after a tuck down to fine leg off Liam Plunkett.

Tom Latham struck a half-century but found little support. Wood ended up with three wickets and five other bowlers took one each as New Zealand folded for 186. It was its third defeat in a row.

The scores: England 305 for eight in 50 overs (Jonny Bairstow 106, Jason Roy 60, Eoin Morgan 42) beat New Zealand 186 in 45 overs (Tom Latham 57, Mark Wood three for 34). Player of the Match: Jonny Bairstow.

Going down with guns blazing!

Rohit Sharma cracked his fourth century of this World Cup, the hapless opponents this time being Bangladesh.   -  Getty Images

 

Bangladesh bowed out of the race for a semifinal spot following a 28-run defeat against India. At the halfway point, the contest was anybody’s; India’s progress had been checked after a commanding start to its innings and eventually restricted to 314 for nine.

Rohit Sharma scored his fourth century in this World Cup and played pretty strokes in a serene innings; the highlight of it was a seemingly effortless, picturesque straight drive off Mustafizur Rahman that yielded a six. But after he departed, in the 30th over, India gathered only 134 runs off 124 deliveries, losing eight wickets. Bangladesh has shown to be an expert in constructing big totals, but this time, it couldn’t recover from the blows by Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah. While Bumrah cleaned up the tail, Pandya removed three potent batsmen before they could explode. Soumya Sarkar fell to a short, wide delivery waiting to be hit, Shakib Al Hasan was undone by a slower delivery, and Liton Das trapped by the short ball. Mohammed Saifuddin took the side close but ran out of partners, Bumrah bowling the No. 10 and No. 11 batsmen with yorkers.

The scores: India 314 for nine in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 104, K. L. Rahul 77, Rishabh Pant 48, Mustafizur Rahman five for 59) beat Bangladesh 286 in 48 overs (Shakib Al Hasan 66, Mohammed Saifuddin 51 not out, Jasprit Bumrah four for 55, Hardik Pandya three for 60). Player of the Match: Rohit Sharma.

A last gasp effort fails

Sri Lanka’s Avishka Fernando is a hard-hitting right-hand batsman and he scored his first ODI hundred in the group match against the West Indies.   -  AP

The West Indies fell to yet another defeat in what has turned out to be a deflating World Cup campaign after a promising start. At one point struggling at 145 for five in the 29th over, chasing 339, its margin of defeat could have been much higher. Eventually, Nicholas Pooran (118) got the side close with his first ODI hundred, and an improbable victory may even have been clinched had Fabian Allen not been run out in the 45th over, with 57 runs still required. But Fabian Allen’s enterprising cameo was cut short — he sacrificed his wicket in a mix-up with Pooran — and the task proved too difficult for the rest.

That run out, a key moment in the contest, was West Indies’ third of the innings. Shimron Hetmyer and Carlos Brathwaite were the other two batsmen to be dismissed that way. Brathwaite’s dismissal was unfortunate; at the non-striker’s end, he was out of his crease when the batsman Pooran’s hit brushed the bowler’s hand on its way to the stumps. But what if the side had avoided the avoidable ones?

A dropped catch in the 18th over of Sri Lanka’s innings marked West Indies’ carelessness, too. Pooran, at deep square leg, made a mess of a straightforward chance after the attacking Kusal Perera had played a reckless pull-stroke. However, in this circumstance, the miss wasn’t too costly, as Perera fell in the next over. Avishka Fernando’s 104 was the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s innings. It was the first century of his fledgling ODI career. The total was Sri Lanka’s highest in this World Cup and its third highest in all World Cups.

The scores: Sri Lanka 338 for six in 50 overs (Avishka Fernando 104, Kusal Perera 64, Lahiru Thirimanne 45 not out) beat West Indies 315 for nine in 50 overs (Nicholas Pooran 118, Fabian Allen 51, Lasith Malinga three for 55). Player of the Match: Avishka Fernando.

A slow start stymies India

Jonny Bairstow’s century at the top of the order gave England enough runs to play with against India.   -  Reuters

 

It was a run-fest between two cricketing powerhouses, but England played as a determined unit, aggressive with bat and ball on a pitch that had pace and bounce, and duly collected a hard-fought 31-run victory. The tone was set by opener Jonny Bairstow, whose bellicose 111 was littered with big hits — 10 fours and six sixes. Opening partner Jason Roy, Joe Root and Ben Stokes provided useful support as England accumulated a formidable total.

India, chasing 338, was slow off the blocks, and couldn’t accelerate sufficiently in the end to make up for it. Rohit Sharma scored his third century of the World Cup, and Virat Kohli scored a half-century. Their second-wicket partnership of 138 looked promising, but Kohli fell tamely at a crucial juncture, steering Liam Plunkett straight to the point fielder. Rohit, No. 4 Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya played cameos but departed attempting the big hit. M. S. Dhoni played muscular strokes in his quickfire, unbeaten 42, but it wasn’t enough. Although it wasn’t a good day for the bowlers, Mohammed Shami registered the first five-wicket haul of his career.

The scores: England 337 for seven in 50 overs (Jonny Bairstow 111, Ben Stokes 79, Jason Roy 66, Mohammed Shami five for 69) beat India 306 for five in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 102, Virat Kohli 66, Hardik Pandya 45, M. S. Dhoni 42 not out, Liam Plunkett three for 55). Player of the Match: Jonny Bairstow.

New Zealand starkly exposed

At a time when Australia was struggling to keep the scoreboard ticking and was losing wickets too, wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey stepped in to set things right against Trans-Tasman rival New Zealand.   -  AP

 

When Australia and New Zealand clashed, the contest wasn’t as gladiatorial as it promised to be. The one factor that made the contest one-sided was Mitchell Starc, who heavily dented the opposition batting line-up and paved the way for an 86-run victory at Lord’s for Australia.

Starc used the angles well to create discomfort during New Zealand’s chase of 244. First, he dismissed Kane Williamson caught behind with a delivery that pitched on a good length and went away from the batsman on the diagonal angle. He, then, tempted Tom Latham with a juicy half-volley that was flicked well but caught acrobatically by Steve Smith at short mid-wicket. Starc went on to run through the tail — dismissing Ish Sodhi and Lockie Ferguson with full, fast deliveries that came in with the angle — and claim five wickets. New Zealand was bowled out for 157.

Australia wasn’t as assured when it batted, however. It had lost half its side for 92, before Alex Carey (71, 72b, 11x4) and Usman Khawaja (88, 129b, 5x4) engineered a slow recovery. Trent Boult took a hat-trick in the final over, the first for a Kiwi in World Cups.

The scores: Australia 243 for nine in 50 overs (Usman Khawaja 88, Alex Carey 71, Trent Boult four for 51) beat New Zealand 157 in 43.4 overs (Kane Williamson 40, Mitchell Starc five for 26). Player of the Match: Alex Carey.

An edge-of-the-seat finish

Pakistan’s Imad Wasim is escorted by security officials as some spectators invaded the field to congratulate him after the nail-biting finish against Afghanistan.   -  AFP

 

This was one of those contests where neither team could really be on top, and the momentum perennially shifted from one side to the other. For the second time in a row, Afghanistan came close to causing an upset, but fell agonisingly short.

Pakistan faltered in its chase of 228, and at one point, its prospects looked bleak. When Sarfaraz Ahmed was run out in the 39th over, 72 runs were still needed with four wickets in hand. And soon it got even tougher, as spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan continued in their frugal ways to tighten the grip on the opposition. It took a productive 46th over — Imad Wasim struck three fours as Gulbadin Naib gave away 18 runs — for Pakistan’s hopes to be revived. A wicket fell in the next over, however, and it was touch and go all the way through. Eventually, Pakistan got home with two balls to spare — Imad, who had shone with the ball, too — hitting the winning runs.

Afghanistan’s potent spinners were the chief cause of discomfort for Pakistan. Mujeeb and Mohammad Nabi gave away only 57 runs in their 20 overs combined, besides taking two wickets each.

The Afghanistan innings also had a stop-start progress, with numerous batsmen getting starts. Shaheen Afridi continued his good run, taking four wickets. Wahab Riaz and Imad took two each.

The scores: Afghanistan 227 for nine in 50 overs (Asghar Afghan 42, Najibullah Zadran 42, Shaheen Afridi four for 47) lost to Pakistan 230 for seven in 49.4 overs (Imad Wasim 49 not out, Babar Azam 45). Player of the Match: Imad Wasim.

Waking up late!

Dwaine Pretorius, the not-so-well-known South African pace bowler, came to the party in the match against Sri Lanka.   -  AFP

 

After having misfired for the most part in the World Cup, South Africa finally got it right in what was an inconsequential contest for the side. The bowling was disciplined, and the batting clinical, as it strolled to a nine-wicket victory over lacklustre Sri Lanka in Durham.

The fast bowlers scythed through the Sri Lankan batting line-up, with Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius taking eight wickets together. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis then batted calmly and saw South Africa home without much fuss.

As many as seven Sri Lankan batsmen lost their wickets trying to heave or in attempting an aggressive stroke. It was a disappointing follow-up to a morale-boosting win against England.

Top-order batsmen Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews all got starts but couldn’t kick on. Half of the side had been dismissed by the 28th over, and the tail couldn’t repair the damage. A searing yorker from Lasith Malinga to get rid of Quinton de Kock apart, the Sri Lankans were equally submissive with the ball. Amla and Du Plessis knuckled down to bat responsibly and take South Africa home.

The scores: Sri Lanka 203 in 49.3 overs (Dwaine Pretorius three for 25, Chris Morris three for 46) lost to South Africa 206 for one in 37.2 overs (Faf du Plessis 96 not out, Hashim Amla 80 not out). Player of the Match: Dwaine Pretorius.

Indian bowling sparkles

Indian skipper Virat Kohli in action against the West Indies. He scored 72 and the Caribbeans put up a disappointing show when their turn came to bat.   -  AP

The 125-run win over the West Indies was a reassurance of India’s all-round quality and a welcome assertion that its confidence hadn’t been shaken after having narrowly scraped past Afghanistan. More than the batting, it was the bowling that sizzled; all the frontline bowlers were among the wickets with seamers Mohammed Shami (four for 16) and Jasprit Bumrah (two for nine) causing the most damage to the opposition.

K. L. Rahul, Virat Kohli, M. S. Dhoni and Hardik Pandya adapted themselves well against a formidable Windies pace assault on a pitch that had considerable pace and bounce. Kohli laid anchor after the fall of Rohit Sharma in the sixth over, and seemed set to steer India to a crescendo in the business end; in the 39th over, however, he suffered a tame dismissal for 72. It was left to Dhoni and Pandya to provide the finishing touches with their fours and sixes.

Shami rattled the West Indies’ top order early. His in-ducker to get rid of Shai Hope was a visual treat. The others kept chipping away to make it a one-sided contest.

The scores: India 268 for seven in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 72, M. S. Dhoni 56 not out, K. L. Rahul 48, Hardik Pandya 46, Kemar Roach three for 36) beat West Indies 143 in 34.2 overs (Mohammed Shami four for 16). Player of the Match: Virat Kohli.

Babar plays a pivotal role

Babar Azam of Pakistan offers his thanks to the Almighty after his hundred against New Zealand.   -  Reuters

 

Shaheen Afridi, the left-arm seamer, shone with the ball as Pakistan restricted New Zealand to 237 for six. Afridi rocked the top order along with Mohammad Amir as New Zealand found itself struggling at 46 for four in the 13th over. Middle-order batsmen Jimmy Neesham (97 not out, 112b, 5x4, 3x6) and Colin de Grandhomme (64, 71b, 6x4, 1x6) played big roles in a recovery.

But it wasn’t enough, although Pakistan had to wait until the final over to cross the line. Babar Azam was the chief architect of a measured, controlled chase, batting serenely to finish with an unbeaten 101. He had key allies in Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail.

The scores: New Zealand 237 for six in 50 overs (Jimmy Neesham 97 not out, Colin de Grandhomme 64, Kane Williamson 41, Shaheen Afridi three for 28) lost to Pakistan 241 for four in 49.1 overs (Babar Azam 101 not out, Haris Sohail 68). Player of the Match: Babar Azam.

Finch likes England!

Aaron Finch likes the England attack. The Australian skipper cracked a century at Lord’s. Finch had taken a hundred off the Englishmen in the 2015 World Cup, too.   -  AP

 

England perhaps brings the best out of Aaron Finch in World Cup games. The right-hander, who had hammered 135 in Melbourne four years ago, delivered with a 100 off 116 balls to set the platform for the Aussies at Lord’s. The five-time champion ended at 285 for seven and then it was over to left-arm pacemen Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff, who was playing in his second Cup fixture.

England looked like a frail shadow of the side that had posted 481 against the same opponent a year ago. It folded for 221, losing by 64 runs.

Starc and Behrendorff sent back the top four inside 15 overs. James Vince was cleaned up off the second ball of England’s innings by Behrendorff for a duck. Ben Stokes (89 off 115) put up a fight but ran out of partners.

Starc and Behrendorff accounted for nine wickets, while Marcus Stoinis picked one. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon remained wicketless.

The scores: Australia 285 for seven in 50 overs (A. Finch 100, D. Warner 53) beat England 221 in 44.4 overs (B. Stokes 89, J. Bairstow 27, J. Behrendorff five for 44, M. Starc four for 43). Player of the match: Aaron Finch.

A Shakib show

Shakib Al Hasan (right) scored a fifty and then bagged five wickets as Bangladesh subdued Afghanistan.   -  AFP

 

Shakib Al Hasan scored a fifty and claimed a five-for against Afghanistan in Southampton as Bangladesh won by 62 runs.

With a plan to unleash the spinners for early damage, Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib elected to field. Bangladesh had its plans in place. The middle-order worked on partnerships to reach 262 for seven. Mujeeb ur Rahman caused trouble with three crucial wickets, that of Shakib (51), Liton Das (16) and Soumya Sarkar (3) and was the pick of the Afghan bowlers.

Mushfiqur Rahim let his experience speak as he held one end scoring 83 off 87 balls.

Shakib became the second cricketer after India’s Yuvraj Singh to pick up five wickets and score a fifty in the same World Cup match. He also became the third cricketer, after Kapil Dev and Yuvraj, to have a five-for and a century in the same World Cup.

The scores: Bangladesh 262 for seven in 50 overs (M. Rahim 83, Shakib 51, Mujeeb three for 39) beat Afghanistan 200 in 47 overs (S. Shinwari 49, G. Naib 47, Shakib five for 29). Player of the match: Shakib Al Hasan.