New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson was a happy man after Afghanistan were beaten by seven wickets on Saturday at Cricket World Cup 2019.
Hashmatullah Shahidi’s 59 made him the top scorer for the Asian nation as they registered 172 all out, a total that was overhauled with 17.5 overs to spare courtesy of Black Caps skipper Williamson’s 79 not out at at Taunton.
Williamson spoke to the media after the contest and cut a contented figure:
The pressure on Monday will entirely be on the Proteas, however, with Faf du Plessis and his men yet to open their account after suffering three losses on the bounce. Windies, on the other hand, will be desperate to bounce back after sustaining a 15-run loss to Australia in their most recent outing.
PROTEAS GETTING THAT SINKING FEELING
Choking under the pressure in the business end of World Cups has been all too common for South Africa previously, but the Proteas now find themselves in real danger of making a hash of their entire campaign.
They came to England without the added pressure that comes with being one of the favourites for the title, but they now face a different kind of threat after a series of misfortunes and losses along the way. All that can wrong, has gone wrong for Du Plessis and his men who have become the first South African team in history to lose three World Cup matches on the trot.
On the face of it, things are not as bad as they seem for the Proteas with two of their losses coming against tournament favourites England and India. However, it is the shock defeat against Bangladesh that has thrown serious question marks over their credentials.
The hamstring injury to pacer Lungi Ngidi was a big setback and veteran Dale Steyn’s unfortunate tournament exit has only compounded the woes for South Africa. The suspect timing of reports pertaining to AB de Villiers’ offer to come out of retirement for the tournament has not helped matters for the team, either.
It is these adversities that the Proteas must respond do for the rest of their campaign with the prospect of them having to win all their six remaining games to qualify for the semi-finals staring at their face.
England ❌— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) June 5, 2019
South Africa lose three Men's World Cup games in a row for the first time. pic.twitter.com/Mo9pMZvzVq
WINDIES REELING FROM AUSSIE SETBACK
In contrast to South Africa, Windies’ World Cup campaign had started with a bang with Jason Holder and his men thrashing Pakistan comprehensively by 10 wickets to make a huge statement.
That win, coupled with their recent ODI displays, had seen many pundits and former players pegging the Caribbean side as the dark horses for the World Cup. However, the manner in which they went down to defending champions Australia in a 15-run defeat has exposed some holes.
Windies had the five-time champions on the ropes at several points of that clash, but squandered every opportunity to seal the win through some rash decisions. While they have every right to feel aggrieved about some of the umpiring decisions in the loss, Holder’s men need to show that they can mix tact to go with their explosive batting firepower.
With the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Shimron Hetmyer, Windies can take any bowling attack apart on their day as they showed by scoring 421 against New Zealand in the warm-ups. However, they will need to ensure that days such as the defeat to the Aussies are few and far in between if they are to make a fist of it at the World Cup.
PROTEAS DOMINATE HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
While recent results have been dismal for them, South Africa do enjoy a formidable head-to-head record against the Caribbean side. The Proteas have been victorious in 44 of the 61 ODIs played between the two sides with Windies winning only 15 of them.
The last ODI meeting between the two sides, however, came all the way back in 2016 when West Indies beat South Africa at Barbados by 100 runs in a tri-nations series league match.
The record is more balanced when it comes to World Cup with both sides winning two matches apiece in four previous clashes.
West Indies: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder (c), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Beuran Hendricks.
England skipper Eoin Morgan has downplayed concerns over the hip injury sustained by Jos Buttler during his side’s 106-run win over Bangladesh in a 2019 ICC World Cup clash on Saturday.
Buttler smashed a 44-ball 66 at Cardiff in England’s mammoth total of 386-6 but did not come out to field at all during Bangladesh’s chase. Morgan is confident that the wicketkeeper batsman will be fit in time for England’s next clash against Windies on Friday but has insisted that he will not be rushed back prematurely.
“There’s no serious concern at that moment,” the England skipper said about Buttler’s injury status after the win.
“He’s going to be monitored over the next 48 hours, but at the moment it’s more precautionary than a situation where he is not able to do his job. I’m quite confident that it’s not a serious injury.”
Although England have an array of stars in their batting unit, Buttler has been one of the more consistent and reliable performers of late. Prior to his 33-ball fifty against Bangladesh on Saturday, the right-handed batsman had registered the fastest World Cup ton by an Englishman (75 balls) in his side’s loss to Pakistan at Trent Bridge.
Morgan is wary of rushing back the 28-year-old from injury even as only a specialist batsman for the Windies game.
“Would we play Buttler as a specialist batsman? It depends on the risk of him making his injury worse in the field,” Morgan said.
“If he is a risk going into the next game, it might not be worth it. In theory the best place to be would be with the gloves on. The worry would be that the high catch went up and he with the gloves would have to take the responsibility to take the catch, and make his hip worse.
“There are five days between now and the next game. We’ll use every day as much as we can to get try to get him back on the park.”
Following their big win over Bangladesh at Cardiff, hosts England have moved into second spot in the table behind New Zealand. Morgan’s men have so far clinched two victories and tasted one defeat in their three matches in the tournament.