After weeks of clear weather, the infamous English weather is back to cause problems at the 2019 World Cup.
Just three games remain to decide the 50-over world champions and all eyes are on the weather. The first semi-final between India and New Zealand is in Manchester on Tuesday with a moderate threat of rain.
The Met Office’s forecast for Manchester on Tuesday is “mostly cloudy and overcast with light rain possible throughout the day”.
If that doesn’t fill you with confidence, the forecast for the second semi-final between England and Australia in Birmingham on Thursday certainly won’t. The forecast is for scattered thunderstorms and rain almost throughout Thursday.
However, there is a provision for reserve days for the knockout matches, which wasn’t there in the group stage.
But if somehow the matches get completely washed out, it means bad news for hosts England.
ICC rules state: “If after the scheduled day and reserve day the semi-final match has still not reached a result, the higher-placed team from the league stage will progress to the final.”
Also “if there is no play possible on either the originally schedule day of the final, nor the reserve day, the World Cup will be shared by the two finalist teams.”
In that case, India and Australia will make it to the semis as the Indians topped the group stage while the Aussies finished second.
The biggest prize in cricket is up for grabs this summer as the top 10 teams battle it out in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.
As fans, it’s not just watching the best players battle it out to look forward to. Fantasy cricket means you have the opportunity to get involved as well.
Dream11 is the official partner of the ICC tournament’s fantasy league. And we are with you every step of the way with our tips and picks to guide you through each round.
The penultimate round features the two semi-final games with India taking on New Zealand and England facing Australia.
Openers to thrive on batting surfaces
Both Old Trafford and Edgbaston have proved to be really good batting surfaces. Australia, England and India boast of an incredibly top-heavy batting line-up. Rohit Sharma is currently in the form of his life, with David Warner, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow not far behind. KL Rahul has seemingly picked the right time to peak and Aaron Finch too looks to be in great form.
One can expect fireworks at the top of the order on Tuesday and Thursday, with at least three of the six players firing to a big score.
You would want to stay clear of the New Zealand openers who have been disappointing this World Cup.
Fresh from cruising to a century in India’s win over Sri Lanka, the leading run-getter of the tournament will be looking to lead the Men in Blue to their third Cricket World Cup final in the 21st century. The Old Trafford hosted Rohit’s sensational ton against Pakistan and could witness yet another master-class from the Indian opener.
The 32-year-old has registered six 50+ scores in eight innings, five of which were converted into tons. Rohit was dismissed for just two runs by Trent Boult when the two teams met in a warm-up game prior to the World Cup. But the momentum is currently in the batsman’s favour as he attempts to reach yet another big score.
With successive tons against India and New Zealand under his belt, English opener Bairstow will be entering the semis in the right frame of mind. He will be wielding the willow on the same ground where he scored 111 against India and Australia conceded 325 against South Africa.
The conditions are in Bairstow’s favour and his late resurgence in the World Cup could propel him to a big total on the big day.
The Aussie openers have been very consistent so far and runs will continue to flow in all likelihood. When it comes to choosing between Warner and Finch in a fantasy team, it’s usually a coin toss. Both players are almost equally likely to reach triple digits.
However, Finch could marginally beat Warner to being the wiser pick in this case, thanks to his ton against the same opposition a few days ago. 507 runs, two centuries, three fifties, more on the way?
Boult’s in-swingers are bound to rattle the Indian batting department, much like they did in the warm-up game in which India were bowled out for just 179 runs. The top order has shown some improvement since but the middle-order remains the biggest flaw in India’s World Cup campaign.
Should Boult break the dam at the top of India’s batting line-up, he could cause a catastrophic middle-order collapse.
The break-out star of the World Cup will make it his responsibility to lead his team to their first World Cup final in 27 years. Archer has picked up 17 wickets so far and has come clutch whenever his team needed him. The 24-year-old has bowled 300 dot-balls in this tournament and has appeared unplayable at times.
Arguably England’s most potent arrow in the quiver, Archer could hold the key against eternal rivals Australia at a ground that has been favourable to England.
While Mitchell Starc is the obvious choice among the Aussie bowlers, Jason Behrendorff could also make a fair case to his claim after a sensational performance against England a few days ago.
The 29-year-old removed openers James Vince and Bairstow to hand his team a solid start. In his last spell, Behrendorff returned to clean the tail and complete a five-wicket haul. The pacer could team up with Starc to knock England out of the competition.
All-rounder James Neesham has been one of the few consistent players for the Kiwis. The Auckland-born has scored 201 runs and claimed 11 wickets so far, placing himself among the upper echelons of all-rounders in this tournament.
The 29-year-old could be handy with the bat in the middle overs. With the ball, Neesham can provide the breakthrough that his team might need half-way through India’s innings.
Ben Stokes has been a warrior for England in desperate times. The batting all-rounder registered 80-plus scores against Sri Lanka and Australia in a losing cause and has been one of their best players when under pressure.
The 28-year-old has scored 401 runs and claimed seven wickets in this tournament, playing a crucial role in England’s deep run. Stokes was a thorn in Australia’s side during their win over England in the group stages and could continue to prick in the semis.
Alex Carey has been an unexpected entry into the league of swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsmen who love to cause havoc in the death overs. The southpaw has slowly helped himself to 329 runs despite playing at the lower end of the batting order.
Expect Carey to play an explosive cameo against England, like he has done in the World Cup so far. Also, the 27-year-old prefers to deal in boundaries and a batting free-hit in this tie could help amplify his impact.
Captain: Trent Boult
Vice-captain: Jonny Bairstow
Australia downed England in the group stages of this World Cup, but Joe Root is confident that both recent and distant history have the tournament hosts ready for revenge in the rematch.
England were downed in convincing fashion by their fiercest rivals at Lord’s last month and looked in serious danger of missing out on the semi-finals at their home tournament.
But back-to-back wins over India and New Zealand turned the tables and have put the No.1 ODI side in world on a collision course with Australia at Edgbaston in the second semi-final on Thursday.
England have lost their last two clashes with Australia including a warm-up game before the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup began, but before that Root and co had the edge with a series win Down Under and a 5-0 whitewash on home soil.
“If you look at the past 11 games against them we have won nine,” he said.
“These guys and this group over the last four years, their experience against Australia have been very positive and they have got a lot of success in the bank.
“I don’t see that as a big worry for this group, we will be drawing on that confidence that over a long period of time now we have been successful against Australia and we should take that into Thursday.”
Add to that the fact that England have found their best form – with Jason Roy back firing fit at the top of the order – and the mood is clearly buoyant.
Root added: “I feel we are in a good place coming into it, I feel like the last two days have almost been like knockout cricket for us.
“We have been playing in a high-pressure environment for a while now and hopefully that will hold us in good stead going into this game.
“It doesn’t matter (who are the favourites). It comes down to who plays their best cricket on the day. If we play in the manner we have the last two games, we will be a very difficult side to play against.
“You can look at form, statistically who is stronger, but it all comes down to who handles the day better, who plays the stronger cricket for the longest period and who will stand up and be victorious at the end of it.”
The left-arm attack of Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff, who took a five-for at Lord’s, have proved England’s undoing in the last two encounters.
But Root is confident lessons have been learned ahead of that encounter.
“They bowled extremely well with the new ball, and those early wickets basically dictated the way the game went,” he added.
“It is about understanding that will be the main threat early on, that ball swinging and if we can combat that and make a good start then we give ourselves a better chance.
“It is something that seems to have been very effective throughout the tournament, that left-arm angle and throughout one day cricket for a while now and they have exploited that nicely.
But we have also seen that we can score quite nicely if they don’t get it right. Trying to be very objective about it, and clear on how you approach it will be very important.
“The guys have faced a lot of left arm stuff over their careers and in build up to last game. There will be a lot talked about it and with that comes pressure for them as well to deliver. It works both ways.”