Kane Williamson insists he is not obsessing about Australian danger man David Warner ahead their showdown at Lord’s.
New Zealand’s captain suffered his first defeat at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup as the Black Caps found themselves on the wrong side of a six wicket loss to Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
And he’ll be looking to bounce straight back against Australia in what promises to be a day/night thriller at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
With 500 runs to his name, no batsmen has eclipsed the runs made by Warner in recent weeks, with Williamson fifth in the standings with 414 from just five innings.
Warner’s danger with bat in hand is therefore clear for all to see – but the New Zealand captain knows better than most just how threatening he can be.
The two were in the same dugout for Sunrisers Hyderabad in this year’s Indian Premier League, though Williamson knows focusing on just one Australian batsman is not the way to go.
“Day-in, day-out, he’s one of the top players for a reason,” he said. “He’s able to adjust to conditions and continued to improve his game.
“Warner has been instrumental on the Australian side, he’s adapted his game and been able to help put his side in a position of strength.
“We know he’s a very good player but we want to worry about us and what we want to achieve with the ball in hand, with the bat, and always importantly for us, it’s how we operate with our attitude in the field.”
Williamson knows a win at Lord’s would guarantee New Zealand’s place in the final four – Australia have already banked their slot – with a game to play, their final group fixture a date with England at Chester-le-Street.
And he’s expecting a red-hot atmosphere in addition to red-hot temperatures, with forecasters predicting 30 degrees and rising in London.
“Usually you come to Lord’s and there’s a quiet murmur when you play England but it might be a little bit different when you have Kiwis and Australians filling out the seats,” he added.
“It will be a really good atmosphere and I know for a fact that both teams are just looking forward to getting into the cricket.
“Australia have been playing really good cricket but when you come to a World Cup, anybody can beat anybody. We’ve seen that on different occasions already in this tournament.
“It’s going to be a great occasion. It always is when you have the opportunity to play Australia, but obviously here at this ground it’s an extra exciting prospect.”
South Africa have something to smile about at last in the 2019 ICC World Cup with the Proteas registering a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Durham.
It was only the second win of the campaign for Faf du Plessis and his men and it delivered a hammer blow to Sri Lanka’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
South Africa’s victory was forged on the back of a strong bowling display that saw them bowl out the Lankans for just 203 runs. In response, the Proteas chased down the target with more than 12 overs to spare after unbeaten half-centuries from Hashim Amla (80) and du Plessis (96).
The duo forged South Africa’s highest partnership of the tournament (175 runs) in a controlled display of batting to clinch a resounding win.
With only a paltry total to defend, Sri Lanka were given a small opening with Lasith Malinga castling Quinton de Kock with a toe-crushing yorker. That was as good as it got with the ball for Sri Lanka with Amla and du Plessis chasing down the target with considerable ease.
Earlier, Sri Lanka got off to a horror start with the bat with Kagiso Rabada dismissing Dimuth Karunaratne off the very first delivery of the match.
Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando raised hopes with a 67-run stand for the second wicket but it was all downhill thereafter for the islanders. A three-wicket burst by pacer Dwaine Pretorius broke Sri Lanka’s top-order before Chris Morris removed the dangerous Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis.
When Andile Phehlukwayo dismissed Thisara Perera for 21, Sri Lanka had slid to 184-8 and there was no recovering from that.
Friday’s win is only the second in the tournament for South Africa with their other victory coming against Afghanistan.
Amla’s form arrives too late for South Africa
One of the many reasons for South Africa’s dismal 2019 World Cup campaign had been the form of Hashim Amla with the veteran struggling for runs at the top of the batting order.
Bar one half-century against the Kiwis, Amla had been a shadow of his former self in the games leading up to Friday’s clash with many fans even urging him to retire. For perhaps the first time in the tournament, the right-hander looked on top of his game from the very first ball with his class finally showing through.
However, that commanding display from Amla has come too late for both South Africa and the veteran with the side having already dropped out of the running for the semi-final.
The Proteas all-rounder was dropped from the playing XI after the tournament opener and did not feature at all until Friday’s clash against the Sri Lankans.
Pretorius wasted no time in creating an impact with his three-wicket haul coming at just the right time for South Africa. Perera and Fernando were threatening to go on the rampage after a solid stand before Pretorius was introduced into the attack and mayhem ensued.
The all-rounder induced mistakes from both Perera and Fernando before dismissing the highly capable Kusal Mendis as well to derail Sri Lanka’s innings massively.
His wickets set the tone for the rest of the game and Sri Lanka never recovered from those blows.
Faf du Plessis cracks South Africa’s highest score
The unbeaten innings of 96 from the South Africa skipper is now the highest score by any South African batsman at the 2019 World Cup.
The previous highest score had been a 68 by Quionton de Kock against Afghanistan. The lack of a big innings by any Proteas batsman explains why they have struggled so badly in the tournament.
If it’s Rashid Khan’s day then Pakistan are in trouble.
That’s the warning sounded by Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib as his side aim to put the skids under the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup’s form team at Headingley.
Rashid, ranked third in the ICC ODI bowling rankings, hasn’t yet set the showpiece alight and was visibly frustrated with his team’s efforts in the field in their defeat to Bangladesh.
But Gulbadin reminded the world of the threat posed by the 20-year-old, whose tally of 125 ODI wickets since the 2015 World Cup is bettered only by England’s Adil Rashid.
“Pakistan are a strong team and played spin very well in this last two games,” said Gulbadin.
“But Rashid is a different spinner, he’s very different to other leg-spinners, it’s very difficult to pick him.
“In this World Cup, I don’t think he’s been at his best but he’s given everything in terms of effort. On his day, it’s very difficult for any team to deal with him.
“Rashid is trying to give 100 per cent and trying his best, this is a World Cup, everyone just wants to give their best performances.
“If it is a Rashid day, it’s very difficult for anyone.”
Pakistan have shown their prowess against the turning ball in successive victories over South Africa and New Zealand that have propelled them to within a point of the semi-final spots.
Particularly impressive was the manner in which Haris Sohail and Babar Azam negotiated sharp spin on a used pitch at Edgbaston, paving the way for a six-wicket success over the Black Caps.
Rashid’s spin twin Mujeeb Ur Rahman has been Afghanistan’s standout performer and shackled India’s vaunted top order, dismissing Rohit Sharma and conceding just 26 runs from his ten overs.
Gulbadin revealed the 18-year-old was left out of the team to face South Africa and New Zealand due to concerns over the fluency of his bowling action but is delighted by his recent displays.
“We were worried about Mujeeb’s action in the first couple of games,” he explained.
“He was missing something. He went away with our coach and video analyst to work on it and he has his form and rhythm back now.
“If you look at his last few games, he’s bowled really well. I think he had lost some of his momentum and his bowling grip.
“In the last few games he did a really good job for the team. We hope he will give us 100 per cent against Pakistan.”