With the past weekend marking the end of the league stage, we look at the biggest moments from the week, featuring Glenn Maxwell’s brilliance and England’s positive end to the World Cup. We also preview the all-important semi-finals.
England finally put their miseries to bed
England have finally been put out of their miseries and will not have to play another World Cup match for four years.
Having been officially eliminated almost two weeks ago, England traipsed around India for their final few matches. Within this, they actually managed to defeat the Netherlands and Pakistan. These victories took their win total up to a slightly more respectable three and guaranteed them qualification to the 2025 Champions Trophy.
The final two matches saw runs for Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes, while Adil Rashid and David Willey took five wickets each. Many players’ reputations have taken a hit over the World Cup but these four were significantly the best performers. However, it seems that they might not be in England’s future plans; none of those four have been selected in England’s upcoming ODI tour of the West Indies and only Rashid retains his place in the T20 squad.
It has been an extremely poor tournament for England and they will look to rebuild over the next cycle. Although Rob Key was critical of the leadership team, Buttler and Mott seem likely to stay in charge for the foreseeable future.
Maxwell and Marsh go ballistic to fire Australia to the semis
Glenn Maxwell dragged Australia past Afghanistan with a remarkable 201* before Mitch Marsh fired 177* to help chase over 300 against Bangladesh.
Ibrahim Zadran scored a fantastic 129, before Rashid Khan’s explosive 35*, to help Afghanistan to 291-5. Australia then collapsed to 91-7, before Maxwell became the first batter in ODI history to score a double hundred when not opening the batting. Alongside a resolute Pat Cummins, Maxwell dismantled the Afghan bowling attack to end their hopes of a World Cup semi-final.
In their final group game, Bangladesh managed 306/8, including a Towhid Hridoy half-century. Sean Abbott took two wickets on World Cup debut as Adam Zampa took 2-32 to take his tournament’s wicket tally to 22. David Warner got Australia off to a good start, scoring 53, before Marsh blasted Australia to victory.
Having lost their first two matches, Australia have managed to fly through to the semi-finals with seven wins on the bounce. They take on South Africa in the knockout game on Thursday.
New Zealand keep calm, Pakistan fall short
New Zealand’s World Cup turned from smooth sailing to nervous in quick time before their final group stage match against Sri Lanka. As they often do, Pakistan came knocking on the doors of the knockout stage out of nowhere. The Kiwis always had the upper hand given their superior net run rate and some of those big wins early on, combined with a massive win against Sri Lanka, proved crucial at the end. Putting Sri Lanka in to bat in Bengaluru, New Zealand made light work of the first innings.
Trent Boult stepped up to the occasion, picking three wickets for just 37, while Lockie Ferguson, Mitch Santner, and breakthrough World Cup star Rachin Ravindra contributed with two wickets each, to bowl Sri Lanka out for 171. Valuable contributions from openers Devon Conway and Ravindra, and Daryl Mitchell, meant that New Zealand chased down the target in 23.2 overs to further bump up that net run rate and almost certainly rule Pakistan out of contention.
Needing to win their final game by astronomical margins, Pakistan’s disappointment showed in their performance against England. England scored 337 on the back of another Ben Stokes special and strong performances from Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root. The bowlers, led by David Willey’s 3-for, all chipped in, to seal a 93-run win for the 2019 champions.
Can New Zealand stop India juggernaut, SA break knockouts jinx?
Over a month and 45 matches later, the much-anticipated semifinals are here. It would take a very courageous person to predict an India loss in this World Cup.
While India go into the first semi-final against New Zealand as clear favourites, they know better than to take the semifinals lightly, especially when facing the Kiwis. Hardik Pandya could prove to be a huge miss for the hosts especially if one of the five bowlers has a bad day in Mumbai. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s dip in level after a great start to the tournament is a worry for them. India will be keen to bury the ghosts of the 2019 semi-final, while New Zealand will aim to get third time lucky in the ODI World Cup format, after heartbreak in 2015 and 2019.
In the other semifinal, Australia take on South Africa in a clash probably too tough to call. The Aussies are flying high on the back of a seven-match winning run and all their key players having found serious form. South Africa’s batting has been one of the biggest talking points of the tournament and expect them to showcase that fearless brand of cricket if they get a chance to bat first. In what is expected to be a thriller, South Africa would hope that luck finally goes their way in World Cup cricket.