Pakistan were hoping to get back to winning ways in the 50-over format but their opening 2019 World Cup warm-up clash against Afghanistan ended in more heartbreak as the Afghans emerged victorious by three wickets in Bristol on Friday.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s team entered the tournament on the back of a horrendous run – 10 ODI defeats in a row that included a 4-0 sweep by England. Afghanistan were seen as a dangerous yet manageable opposition but that wasn’t the case as the spirited Afghans chased down Pakistan’s total of 262 all out in 47.5 overs with three wickets and two balls in hand.
Pakistan batted first and posted a below part total which was powered by a fine 112 off 108 balls from star batsman Babar Azam and veteran Shoaib Malik scoring 44 off 59. However, the slow scoring rate of the entire line-up apart from Babar meant Pakistan never threatened to breach the 300-run mark. What’s more, they failed to bat out the 50 overs.
In the crazy world of Pakistan cricket:— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) May 24, 2019
10 ODI losses in a row
19 losses out of 23 matches in all formats
Warm-up loss to Afghanistan
Lack of match-practice for several players
Fitness concerns over some players
But they could still go on and win the World Cup#CWC19
For Afghanistan, spinners Rashid Khan (2-27) and Mohammad Nabi (3-46) did the bulk of the damage at the top while veteran fast bowlers Dawlat Zadran (2-37) and Hamid Hasan (1-31) provided good support to give their team’s already potent bowling some serious edge going into the main tournament.
In reply, Afghanistan were off the blocks in a flash as Hazratullah Zazai blasted 49 off 28. After 10 overs, Afghanistan were 78-0 and on their way to victory. But left-arm spinner Imad Wasim (2-29 from 10 overs) and young quick Mohammad Hasnain (1-34 from six) gave them a semblance of control.
As the chase went down to the wire, experienced left-arm quick Wahab Riaz returned to shock Afghanistan with sizzling pace and reverse swinging yorkers to take two wickets in 48th over as the Afghans needed 14 from 12 balls.
But a poor penultimate over by leggie Shadab Khan took the pressure off and Afghanistan emerged victorious. Hashmatullah Shahidi steered the chase with an unbeaten 74.
For Pakistan, not only did Mohammad Amir yet again go wicketless, fellow left-armer Shaheen Afridi had another poor outing – going for 51 runs from six overs. In the ODI series against England, Shaheen went for more than 80 runs in three successive matches and his latest effort will only add to Sarfraz’s woes.
Pakistan 262 in 47.5 overs
Babar Azam: 112 (108)
Mohammad Nabi: 3-46
Afghanistan 263-7 in 49.4 overs
Hashmatullah Shahidi: 74*
Wahab Riaz: 3-46
The 2019 Cricket World Cup kicks off on May 30 in England and will feature the best talents the sport has to offer competing on its grandest stage.
So many great cricketers will be on show and each with their unique set of skills, some which stand out more than others.
Here, we highlight the strengths of a variety of players and uses the blended mix to mould our perfect cricketer. Enjoy!
ANATOMY OF THE PERFECT CRICKETER
Intelligence – MS Dhoni
He’s masterminded India’s success across all formats with his tactical nous and innovation giving his side an edge. His choices were as bold and unorthodox as they were effective and the same rings true of his batting.
MS DHONI In 50 Overs WORLD CUP. 💙— DHONIsm™ ❤️ (@DHONIism) May 24, 2019
( 2007, 2011, 2015 )
Runs - 507*
Average - 42.2
Strike Rate - 91.1
6's - 10
4's - 38
50's - 3
High score - 91* pic.twitter.com/btihe2B2RH
Power – Andre Russell
With a staggering 54 sixes in 13 innings during IPL 2019, the West Indies batsman staked his claim as the best power-hitter in the game. The consistency with which he bludgeons deliveries into the stands is frightening. He’s got it down to a science.
Go up close in the nets with West Indies star Andre Russell ahead of the World Cup warm-up match against Australia tonight pic.twitter.com/YvJcpSZSA0— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) May 22, 2019
Pace – Kagiso Rabada
The South African quick is the real deal. Not only is he capable of clocking some of the fastest balls in world cricket, but he regularly bowls in the 140-150kph range with supreme discipline. The youngster could get even quicker.
Innovation – Jos Buttler
The England batsman boasts great technique but it’s his penchant for the audacious that’s made him a T20 superstar and a dangerous customer in ODIs. Whether it’s a ramp shot for six, going inside-out over covers or a heave downfield, Buttler uses the crease expertly and is a nightmare to bowl to.
Timing – Rohit Sharma
The Indian opener has natural talent coming out of his ears. He may not boast the consistency of a run-machine like Virat Kohli, but he can caress a ball into the fence with flawless timing. Be it an elegant drive through the covers or a nonchalant flick off his pads – his impeccable stroke-play is poetry in motion.
Happy birthday, Hitman 🎂— BCCI (@BCCI) April 30, 2019
As our champion @ImRo45 turns 32 today, we pull out his epic knock of 264, the highest individual ODI score ever. #HappyBirthdayRohit
Full video - https://t.co/upXYoN02fe pic.twitter.com/9tb1ykHq2u
Technique – Babar Azam
At just 24, his average of 51.67 in ODIs has cemented his spot in the Pakistan side. With a technique that’s as close to textbook as they come, the No3 batsman is rarely caught playing a loose shot and his best innings have the makings of a comprehensive batting tutorial.
Babar Azam's ODI record since the start of 2016. Only three players have scored more than his nine centuries in that time period. pic.twitter.com/1rVILnXqaf— ICC (@ICC) May 20, 2019
Concentration – Joe Root
Hardly a physical specimen, it’s his doggedness and concentration that’s held the England batsman in good stead throughout his career. He has a reputation for being dependable and naturally assumes the sheet anchor role.
Footwork – Virat Kohli
The Indian skipper has several strengths and his footwork at the crease is certainly one of them. Much of his trademark cover-drive has to do with how he leans into it with his front foot. He uses his feet expertly against spin and when facing pace, he gets on top of deliveries that generate extra bounce.
Running between wickets – David Warner
Batting for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2019, he ran away with the Orange Cap, top-scoring with 692 runs in just 12 innings. However, 48.8 per cent of that tally came from running between the wickets. His ability to turn ones into twos and twos into threes ensures the scoreboard is continuously ticking over.
Fielding – Faf du Plessis
He’s 34 years old but the South African never misses an opportunity to fling himself around in the field, often spectacularly. Not only does he impress with cat-like agility while boasting one of the safest pair of hands in the business, but his quick thinking has made for some outstanding fielding on the ropes.
Swing – Dale Steyn
Such is his talent that many consider him the greatest bowler South Africa has ever produced, even above the legendary Allan Donald. His phenomenal ability to swing the ball both ways at pace has only been aided by his wealth of experience. One of the most feared fast bowlers of all-time.
Spin – Rashid Khan
Bowling wicket-to-wicket, there’s no place for batsmen to hide. There’s little time to read and adjust either as his deliveries cut through the air and skid off the surface. The lack of flight means his leg-spinners don’t generate too much turn but his googly often leaves batsmen bamboozled.
Leadership – Kane Williamson
With his head on his shoulders and feet on the ground, the New Zealand skipper leads by example. He does things by the book at the crease but isn’t averse to thinking outside the box in the field. With his blend of reliability, work-ethic, mental strength and modesty, he’s a natural leader.
Hand-eye coordination – Steve Smith
With one of the most peculiar stances at the crease, there’s something almost unnatural about the Australian’s style. He seems to face the bowler head-on just prior to delivery but everything that should be wrong about his technique is negated by his supreme hand-eye coordination. With 31 international tons to his name, who can argue?
Accuracy – Jasprit Bumrah
Speaking of the unorthodox, the Indian seamer falls into that category as well. It’s one thing to bowl fast consistently; it’s another to do it accurately and despite his short and stuttered run-up, he blends the two better than anyone. With the perfect line and length in an opening spell and deadly yorkers at the death, the 25-year-old deserves his No1 ICC ODI ranking.
Archer has only played three one-day internationals, and taken the same number of wickets, but has bowled with sufficient pace and verve to cause a major stir ahead of the tournament.
Prior to qualifying for England the Barbados-born quick made waves as a fixture of Twenty20 domestic circuit, catching Kohli’s eye in the Indian Premier League.
Earlier this week Archer named Kohli as one of the wickets he most wanted to take and the respect is clearly mutual.
Speaking at the tournament captain’s launch – an event which saw all 10 skippers lined up side by side on leather sofas in a Stoke Newington warehouse space – Kohli was effusive in his praise of the 24-year-old.
“If Jofra said that it’s a big compliment as he himself is a world-class bowler,” he said.
“I think he’s going to be the X factor because he has all the skill sets and he’s very different from anyone else.”
Kohli is not only the best batsman in the world he also has 64million social media followers on Twitter and Instagram. When he talks, people listen and if England harboured lingering hopes of unleashing Archer as any kind of secret weapon, they are surely over now.
“He’s played all round the world and done well so there’s a good reason why he’s been fast-tracked into playing for England in a tournament like the World Cup,” Kohli continued.
“He can generate a lot of pace which can be intimidating and you don’t really expect that from his run-up. He’s just a great athlete and I’m sure the England team will be delighted to have him and he will be exciting to watch at the World Cup.
“I personally will be watching his bowling because whatever I’ve seen of him he is really impressive.”
As hosts, favourites and world number ones, England received plenty of plaudits at the launch. A local schoolgirl asked each panellist to name the player they most coveted from their rivals and, while several demurred, Pakistan’s Sarfaraz Ahmed chose Jos Buttler and Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne picked Ben Stokes.
Eoin Morgan declared himself happy with his side as it was but admitted he would happily take Ricky Ponting from the Australian coaching staff.
Aaron Finch, who leads Australia’s defence, was first to underline England’s status as most-fancied, declaring them “definite favourites”.
Kohli, meanwhile, noted the growing talk around the possibility of a 500-run innings at the tournament and England’s belief that they can raise their current world record mark of 481.
“They seem to be obsessed with getting to 500 before anyone else,” he said. “They smash it from ball one and for the full 50 overs.”
Morgan spoke for the group when he reflected on how much it would mean to be one of the two leaders left standing by the time the competition concludes at Lord’s on July 14
“It would be extremely cool. Every captain sitting on the couch here would lose their left leg to play in the final,” he said.
“To play a World Cup final at the home of cricket…everyone here would have dreamed about that as a kid.”