While the 2019 World Cup is well and truly under way with most teams having already played twice, India open their campaign against South Africa in Southampton on Wednesday.
India spent their downtime before the opening clash out and about in the UK, including a game of paintball. They have been judicious with their training schedule as most players featured in the recently concluded IPL. However, they will have to hit the ground running against a South African side that has already played two tough games, even though they lost both.
WILL INDIA GO WITH JADEJA?
India entered the World Cup without any clarity over the vexing No4 batting position. But after the final warm-up match against Bangladesh, they seem to have zeroed in on KL Rahul in the middle order after their top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli.
MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya form the lower middle order while pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are certainties. Two spots should be taken by wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who terrorised South Africa during the ODI series in their backyard last year.
Kedar Jadhav has also been declared fully fit and should walk into the playing XI. That leaves no place for Ravindra Jadeja and Kohli will have to decide whether to drop one of the wrist-spinners for the southpaw. Kuldeep was horribly out of form in the recent IPL but looked good in India’s warm up win over Bangladesh and it will be a straight toss up between him and Jadeja for the playing XI spot.
However, with Wednesday expected to be cloudy, India could also go in with one less spin option and play all-rounder Vijay Shankar who fits anywhere in the order and can bowl a few seam-up overs.
PROTEAS DEALT STEYN BLOW
It has gone from bad to worse for South Africa. They first suffered a chastening defeat in the tournament opener against England which included a hit to the head to Hashim Amla by Jofra Archer.
That forced the opening batsman to sit out the next game against Bangladesh, which turned out to be an even bigger disappointment as the Proteas succumbed to a 21-run defeat and also saw pacer Lungi Ngidi suffer a hamstring injury.
Amla returned to training ahead of the India match but the bigger news was the return of pace ace Dale Steyn in the nets. The veteran quick has been on the sidelines for more than two weeks after picking up a shoulder injury in the IPL.
However, Steyn’s return to the nets turned out to be a false dawn as the fast bowler was ruled out of the World Cup with a shoulder injury.
Left-arm pacer Beuran Hendricks has been named as Steyn’s replacement but he only due to arrive in Southampton on match day. The India game might have come a little too soon for Hendricks and that should see Chris Morris get another go.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (c), David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kasigo Rabada, Dwaine Pretorious, Imran Tahir.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav/Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal
England suffered a first setback in their pursuit of World Cup glory after a 14-run defeat to Pakistan at Trent Bridge but Joe Root has stressed the importance of remaining calm.
Sparkling centuries from Root and Jos Buttler were scant consolation for the tournament hosts and favourites as Pakistan turned the form book on its head, snapping a run of 11 consecutive one-day international losses.
However, defeat in the round-robin stage is not a disaster by any means and Root believes England will regroup ahead of Saturday’s trip to Cardiff to tackle Bangladesh.
The Yorkshireman said: “The most important thing now for us as a group is not to panic. We know what works for us as a formula, and as a team, but other sides are allowed to play well and we’ve got to make sure we learn quickly and bounce back at Cardiff.
“The temptation is to get a little bit tense, but one of our great strengths as a side is sticking to the way we go about things and be as smart as possible.
“And the beauty of this format is that I do believe the best four teams over the tournament will qualify for the semi-finals and we’ve got to make sure we play some good cricket in our remaining games.
“One thing this side doesn’t do very often is to make the same mistake twice and I’m sure the guys will make sure it’s a very different performance against Bangladesh.”
Pakistan posted 348-8 which, if overhauled, would have set a new tournament record for the highest successful chase.
Root (107) and Buttler (103) came together at 118 for four and though their 130-run stand raised hopes of an unlikely victory, England were ultimately left to rue an uncharacteristically derisory effort in the field.
Mohammad Hafeez was dropped on 14 by Jason Roy before going on to amass 84 while there were mis-fields and overthrows from a side that delivered a masterclass in fielding when they defeated South Africa in the curtain-raiser last week.
England captain Eoin Morgan said: “I don’t think it was that bad a day.
“It was just a really bad day in the field. It hasn’t happened a lot with us but there were mistakes that we don’t normally make. And that’s disappointing.
“We’ve gone from probably one of our best performances in the field at the Oval to, not extremely bad, but it’s cost us probably 15-20 runs in the field which is a lot in the one-day game.
“Our performances with bat and ball throughout the tournament will ebb and flow. Today it wasn’t that bad.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Pakistan had picked left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz for the 2019 World Cup after struggling to find any consistency in their bowling last season.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s team were spiraling out of control, having been embarrassed at the Asia Cup last year and slipping to an ODI series whitewash in the UAE to Australia.
In a desperate hunt for a bowler who could given them some pace and control, the Pakistan management went for the tried and tested left-arm option of Riaz. This despite him not having played an ODI in two years – his last match being in the 2017 Champions Trophy – and also brushed aside by coach Mickey Arthur as a ‘has been’.
But just when the team seemed down and out after their embarrassing defeat to West Indies in the World Cop opener, Riaz sparked life into the team with a brilliant display of death bowling along with Mohammad Amir as Pakistan defeated tournament favourites England by 14 runs in Nottingham on Monday.
Riaz picked up three crucial wickets and even though he went for 82 runs, it was the timing of those wickets that proved critical in a high-scoring game as Sarfraz’s team defended their score of 348-8.
Here we take a closer look at Wahab’s display.
Wahab Riaz removes Bairstow with a back of a length delivery. Immediately after Wasim Akram is done describing the importance of it in his television analysis. Riaz's birthday gift to the great man. #TheOneTrueBhai— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) June 3, 2019
Wahab kicked things off by getting a faint edge of the dangerous Jonny Bairstow with one that kicked off the pitch. But his best was saved for the last when Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali were batting and England needed 38 from 18. Wahab first deceived Moeen with a slower bounce before hurrying Woakes with a quick short ball to take two wickets in two balls and effectively end the game. The pace, intensity and a hint of reverse swing was enough to energise Pakistan.
Wahab varied his pace brilliantly – especially at the death – and used his round-the-wicket bowling to right handers to great effect. His three wickets came at just the prefect time for Pakistan.
You wouldn’t have guessed that here was a player who had been out of the ODI team for two years and had been ‘discarded’ by the coach last year.
Wahab’s economy rate was high and with just a few run less to play with, it would have cost Pakistan the match. He is in the team because of his experience and Wahab needs to make sure that he remains the pace spearhead while maintaining a check on the scoring rate.
Wahab would have received nine but for his high economy. Even so, it was a remarkable effort from the left-arm fast bowler whose ODI career seemed done and dusted.