Cricket World Cup 2019: Pakistan start favourites against Sri Lanka but rain-threat looms large

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With both teams overturning a defeat in their opener to contrasting wins in their second game, subcontinent teams Pakistan and Sri Lanka prepare to build a winning momentum as they take the field at Bristol on Friday.

The Lankans enter the tie after a rather underwhelming win over Afghanistan in a rain-hit game, while Pakistan barge in with an upset over England.

We take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the first match of the third round of the 2019 World Cup.

Pakistan’s batsmen hold the edge

Although both teams won their respective games in the second round, the manner in which Pakistan comprehensively outplayed tournament favourites England was impressive.

The batsmen looked in good shape with the likes of Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafiz and captain Sarfaraz Khan scoring 50s.

Azam, in particular, could be crucial against the Lankans who have been his favourite opponents. The talented batsman has an average of 58.33 against them with two centuries in the last eight games decorating his impeccable record.

Should the rains leave this fixture untouched, we could be in for a big score given how the Bristol surface has favoured the batsmen. The warm-up game involving West Indies and New Zealand at this venue saw 751 runs being scored in one day.

With their batsmen on top of their game and the bowling duo of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz looking in good touch, the 1992 champions are favourites for this game.

Patchy middle-order could spell Sri Lanka’s doom

The Lankans did get their first win of the tournament after they were able to ward off the threat posed by a determined Afghanistan. But that win could only do little to convince that they are among the formidable teams to watch out for in the World Cup.

Barring openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera, none of the players were unable to register a score over 30 runs against the tournament minnows.

Their patchy middle-order was exposed in both the games they have played so far in the World Cup. Against New Zealand, Sri Lanka collapsed from 46/1 to 60/6, losing five wickets in a span of just 14 runs and six overs.

On a batting surface, you would want your middle-order to step up and perform. It’s a matter of now more than ever for the Sri Lanka batsmen as they take the field against Pakistan.

Winning the toss could be crucial

Heavy rains have been predicted at Bristol on Friday and the possibility of the 100 overs being played is low. The forecast has been described as cloudy with high chances of intermittent showers.

With the possibility of the D/L rule likely to play a role in determining the result, winning the toss could play a key role.

It’s worth noting that the team batting first has won only seven of the last 17 games held at the venue with none of those victories coming in 2019.

Both teams will be locking horns against stronger opposition in the future and two points in this game could be crucial.

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Chris Gayle and Andre Russell were both passed fit for the West Indies, who opted to bowl first in their World Cup clash against Australia at Trent Bridge.

Gayle (lower back) and Russell (knee) were injury doubts after struggling in the win over Pakistan last week, but they were both included in the Windies XI, with Evin Lewis replacing Darren Bravo in the only alteration to their line-up.

Australia, as expected, named an unchanged XI from the side that beat Afghanistan by seven wickets in their tournament opener, meaning Usman Khawaja retained his spot ahead of Shaun Marsh.

Who will prevail on Thursday? Catch the live updates below.

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Cricket World Cup 2019: Virat Kohli says batsmen 'clueless' against Jasprit Bumrah

Nick Purewal 6/06/2019
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Jasprit Bumrah was on fire against the Proteas.

Virat Kohli believes seamer Jasprit Bumrah has India’s World Cup rivals “clueless” when it comes to playing him.

Bumrah terrorised South Africa in Southampton as the Proteas slipped to a third straight World Cup defeat, with India prevailing by six wickets.

India skipper Kohli hailed Bumrah for arriving in England knowing he is ready to dominate the World Cup, and admitted the Ahmedabad-born paceman has the game’s top batsmen bamboozled.

“He can nick you off on any wicket and he has that belief,” said Kohli. “He’s just going to bowl consistently and can still get you out.

“When you see batsmen clueless against him, and he’s actually rushing people. “To get guys out like that, just rushing them a bit, it’s a great thing and it’s a testament to his hard work.

“He understands that this is his time and he’s making the most of it. He’s going to be a massive factor for us here.”

Rohit Sharma racked up an unbeaten 122 as India coasted to their target, gearing up to face Australia at The Oval on Sunday with a comfortable victory. India launched their World Cup campaign in fine style, restricting South Africa to 227 for nine, with Bumrah to the fore and Yuzvendra Chahal bagging four for 51.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar grabbed a pair of wickets himself and Kuldeep Yadav also claimed a wicket as India fired a warning shot to opponents looking to hit big that they will take some subduing with the ball.

Kohli revealed Bumrah is even striking fear into his team-mates in the nets, but insisted India are relishing such a tough examination in training.

“Facing Jasprit, you have to play good cricketing shots against him and back your technique against him,” said Kohli. “If you’re hesitant, he’s all over you.
“If he senses you’re not enjoying the short ball, he makes sure you get it.

“He will bounce people, york people with the new ball. If you’re not on top of your game, it can be trouble. If you play well against him in the nets, you walk out with more confidence.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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