The last game of Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign started on a disastrous note with the 1996 champions reeling at 55-4 after just over 11 overs against India in Headingley on Saturday.
It was then that Angelo Mathews decided to step up and produce his team’s best batting performance of the tournament. The all-rounder steadied the ship and helped the Lankans post a respectable total of 264-7 in their quota of 50 overs.
Here we take a closer look at his performance.
Balls faced: 128
Sri Lanka endured a rather disappointing World Cup, with their only memorable moment arriving in a thrilling win over hosts England. They would have preferred to have started strong against neighbours India but Jasprit Bumrah had other ideas and he removed the openers early on.
Matthews played the role of a sheet anchor and took his team to safety through a well-paced ton. He thus became only the second Sri Lankan player to score a ton in this World Cup after Avishka Fernando.
The 34-year-old went after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and ensured his team got to a competitive total, as he recorded the highest score by a Sri Lankan player in this World Cup.
Good shot selection is a key ingredient in any innings and Mathews had his spot on. His timing and placement were impeccable as well on a slowing surface.
His used the pull shot judiciously, negating the slow short balls by Indian quicks. The 34-year-old was accumulating runs all around the ground and ensured Sri Lanka avoided a batting collapse.
No major negatives. But he did get out to a softly dismissal. Matthew timed Bumrah’s full length ball well but failed to place it perfectly. The ball found Rohit Sharma at extra-cover and the opening batsman had to barely move an inch to send the Sri Lankan back to the pavilion.
The in-form batsman could have added another 15 runs on the board, had he placed his shot better.
The Lankans had a tournament to forget and hence need to regroup. However, Matthews will find solace in the fact that he played a classy innings.
Former Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik announced his retirement from 50-over cricket on Friday, following Pakistan’s 94-run victory over Bangladesh at Lord’s in the 2019 World Cup.
Malik, 37, brought an end to his 20-year long ODI career and said he will concentrate on prolonging his T20 career.
“I’m retiring from ODI cricket. I had planned this for a few years ago to retire on the last Pakistan World Cup match. I’m sad that I will be leaving a format of cricket I once loved but happy that I’ll have more time to spend with my family. This will also allow me to focus on T20s,” Malik said.
With the weather we had after the opening week in the 2019 World Cup, it was clear that a handful of results were going to have a disproportionate impact on the final four standing and at least one team was going to make it to the semis owing to a major slice of luck.
It’s Australia, India, England and New Zealand in the semi-finals, a line-up that many predicted before the start of the tournament. However, as the matches unfolded over the course of last month, it became difficult to overlook the impact a solitary result has had on the make-up of the final four.
In the third match of the World Cup, the Kiwis faced Sri Lanka on a greentop in Cardiff – conditions that we didn’t see anywhere else. Blackcaps pacers blew Sri Lanka away for 136 inside 30 overs and chased down the runs in 16.1 overs.
That one result took New Zealand’s net run rate to such a level that even three successive and comprehensive defeats in the business end of the tournament – against Pakistan, Australia and England – didn’t cost them as the other contender for the spot – Pakistan – had themselves been dismissed by the Windies for 105 in an even bigger thrashing.
New Zealand have lost their last two games by a combined margin of 205 runs still they are miles ahead of Pakistan in NRR. That shows how terribly Pakistan played in the first game against West Indies. #CWC19— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) July 3, 2019
So the Kiwis didn’t beat a single ‘top’ ranked team – apart from the listless South Africa – and scraped past Bangladesh and West Indies. Yet Pakistan, who beat England, New Zealand and South Africa, didn’t make the cut.
What the format has done is create a scenario where the Kiwis will enter the semi-finals – with five wins from nine games – having suffered three heavy defeats against top teams in crunch games. Hypothetically speaking, if the Blackcaps get to bowl in overcast conditions in the semis and blow the opposition away and then win the final, they will still only have seven wins in the tournament while Australia won seven out of eight in the league phase itself.
And that is the fundamental flaw of the format for this World Cup – the team that was consistent throughout the tournament gets no reward for its efforts while a side like New Zealand that has been average only needs to have two good days at the office to win the World Cup.
As I have mentioned before, an IPL style playoffs would have ensured that such a situation is avoided. The top two teams deserve to be in the final while the lower ranked teams should not hoodwink their way into the title clash, if we are to persist with a 10-team ‘every plays everyone’ format in all future tournaments.
That was my biggest fear at the beginning of the World Cup which has unfortunately materialised – an undeserving team making it to the semis and needing just two good days to win the entire thing. It’s as if the whole of June was one big waste of time.