The 2019 World Cup is fast approaching the business end and the top four teams – Australia, New Zealand, England and India – have started to pull away from the rest of the pack.
Barring a stunning turn of events, these four teams should make it to the semi-finals. But in cricket, anything is possible so we won’t jump the gun.
As action unfolds on the pitch, we take a look at moves and plays that have worked or flopped so far. Here is the latest in the series.
Pacers were expected to leave their mark as soon as it became clear that some pitches in England were going to have a little bit in them for the faster bowlers, owing to the inclement weather this time around.
It therefore hasn’t come as a surprise that the top eight bowlers so far are all fast bowlers and five of the top six out-and-out quicks. Mitchell Starc leads the way with 15 scalps from six games, proving that quality pace can work on any surface.
With hardly any swing on offer, the likes of Jofra Archer, Pat Cummins and Mark Wood have blasted their way into the wickets column. And it might remain so until the end of the tournament unless curators produce a few ‘green mambas’.
Leg spinners and wrist spinners in general were seen as must-haves in the middle overs in England to be effective. However, the results so far don’t reflect that notion. South African veteran Imran Tahir is the only ‘wristie’ among the top wicket-takers with eight wickets from six games.
India leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has six wickets from three games but he has gone for more than six an over. Adam Zampa of Australia has been spanked for over seven an over and England’s Adil Rashid has gone for more than six while picking up five from five matches. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, in fact, finished with the second worst bowling figures in history – 0-110 from nine overs against England.
Maybe as the pitches get more tired, wrist spinners will be among the wickets and also keep the economy rate down; six of the seven top pacers have an economy of well under five an over.
Sri Lanka have struggled to make a World Cup impact with poor form and bad weather frustrating them.
The 1996 world champions have picked up four points from five matches and need a strong finish to make the semi-finals.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the Lions ahead of their clash with England at Headingley.
Sri Lanka will hope Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Pradeep can make in-roads into England’s much-vaunted batting unit. Malinga, the only bowler to take two World Cup hat-tricks, may be 35 now but he showed in the win over Afghanistan that his action can still deliver the toe-crushing yorkers on which he built his reputation. Pradeep also has an unconventional action but he has enjoyed success in British conditions, including a four-wicket haul against Afghanistan at Cardiff.
Tournament so far
Sri Lanka were thrashed by New Zealand in an embarrassing opener at Cardiff, losing by 10 wickets after being bowled out for 136. The game lasted only 45.3 overs. The Lions bounced back in the next game against Afghanistan, winning a rain-affected game by 34 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. Bristol wash-outs followed against Bangladesh and Pakistan before Australia beat them comfortably by 87 runs at The Oval.
Adapting to the conditions has so far proved a challenge beyond Sri Lanka’s batsmen. Dimuth Karunaratne was stranded against New Zealand as the captain became only the second player in World Cup history to carry his bat through a completed innings. Sri Lanka got home against Afghanistan, but there was another batting collapse with 141 for one becoming 210 all out. Karunaratne’s 97 against Australia is their top score.
Karunaratne has emerged on the ODI scene late in his career after impressing in the Test arena. The 31-year-old was a controversial choice to take over the captaincy from Angelo Mathews just prior to the World Cup. But Karunaratne has been one of the few shining lights for Sri Lanka, following up his unbeaten 52 against New Zealand with scores of 30 and 97 in his next two innings.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Defending champions Australia rode on David Warner’s century to beat a resilient Bangladesh side and climb to the top of the 2019 Cricket World Cup table. Tasked to chase a mammoth total of 382, Mashrafe Mortaza’s side could manage just 333, despite putting on an inspiring show.
This defeat complicates the qualification scenario for Bangladesh but Mortaza was happy with his team’s performance, calling it their ‘best ODI side ever’.
“I think we conceded 40-50 runs more, otherwise it could have been different. Mushfiqur (Rahim), Shakib (Al Hasan), Tamim (Iqbal) batted very well. (Mahmudullah) Riyad was very good towards the end.
“That’s the best ODI side we ever had. To be honest, we were positive from the first ball. After Soumya got out, Tamim and Shakib kept going but 381 was too much to get,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Warner equaled Adam Gilchrist’s tally of 16 ODI hundreds, leaving him just two short of Mark Waugh and 13 short of Ricky Ponting. The southpaw was glad to achieve the feat but maintained that the two points mattered more.
“It’s a great achievement [equalling Adam Gilchrist’s hundred tally], but it’s more about two points and moving forward,” he said.
“You have to respect the new ball. You have to adapt to the conditions. It (the wicket) was a tad slow. But it was a grind for the bowlers, wasn’t easy to get wickets.”
Aussie skipper Aaron Finch explained his team selection after numerous changes in the playing XI were forced over the past 2-3 games due to an injury to Marcus Stoinis.
The all-rounder returned to the team after sitting out against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“A couple of changes were forced, when you lose your all-rounder. So just toying with ideas but also relying on the surface. If it’s a dry wicket, we might have two spinners,” he explained.
“Our fielding was very sloppy, early on it was a bit slippery but no excuses. We are not thinking about the semi-finals as of now.”