Another eventful week of the Cricket World Cup comes to an end, with upsets and injuries taking centre stage.
An Afghanistan fan cheering their victory over Pakistan
The World Cup is half-way through and the table is beginning to take shape.
India remain the most dominant team, with South Africa and New Zealand looking likely to qualify second and third. However, all the other teams are fighting for the final qualification spot.
England are all but eliminated
Jos Buttler’s team suffered their heaviest ever ODI World Cup defeat to South Africa, by 229 runs. The Proteas piled on almost 400 with a commanding ton from Heinrich Klaasen; Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dozen and Marco Jansen all chipped in with half-centuries as well.
Ben Stokes distraught after losing his wicket
England then collapsed to 100-8 before a 70 run partnership between Gus Atkinson (35 off 21) and Mark Wood (43 off 17) pushed England to a slightly less embarrassing total. On what was evidently a good wicket, this performance by England highlights more problems within the team and the emergence of Reece Topley’s injury, arguably England’s most promising bowler so far, could mark the end of the tournament for England.
They certainly cannot afford to lose any more fixtures if they want to keep their chances of qualification in their own hands.
Kohli carries India to the top
Daryl Mitchell’s 130 could not continue New Zealand’s unbeaten record, as the experienced hands of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma helped guide India to the top of the table.
Daryl Mitchell raising his bat after scoring his first World Cup century
New Zealand stuttered to 273 with the pick of the innings from Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra (75). On the bowling front, Mohammed Shami starred in his first 2023 World Cup match, taking 5-54 from his ten overs. India then cruised to victory with Kohli falling five runs short of his second 2023 World Cup century. The Indian batting lineup all chipped in, looking to take down the seamers in particular.
India are now the last remaining unbeaten side at their home tournament and look certain to qualify for the semi-finals later this week. However, an injury to crucial all-rounder Hardik Pandya against Bangladesh could trouble them for the rest of the tournament. Already they have had to shuffle around their line-up to accommodate five front-line seamers to compensate for Pandya’s overs, by dropping Shardul Thakur for Shami.
Virat Kohli needs only two centuries to overtake Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries
Australia back in the running for the semis
Having propped up the table just a few days ago, Australia have leapt up it to fourth place with two convincing wins over struggling, Sri Lanka and qualification rivals, Pakistan.
Australia managed to contain Sri Lanka to 209 all out, with an Adam Zampa 4-fer. Glenn Maxwell also bowled very tidily, going at under 4 runs per over. He has been a standout star so far at the World Cup for Australia, with an economy of only 4.4 throughout. Australia’s chase then saw maiden World Cup 50s for Mitch Marsh and Josh Inglis, before Maxwell (31 off 21) and Marcus Stoinis (20 off 10) finished the chase in style.
Adam Zampa celebrating one of his many wickets against Pakistan
Against Pakistan, openers Marsh and David Warner set the tone brilliantly, with a 259 opening stand from 34 overs. Warner made 163 and Marsh 121, before Australia collapsed to an underwhelming 367/9; Stoinis the only other batter to pass 13. The pitch seemed to play well with a Pakistan opening partnership of 134. Australia fought back well with continual wickets throughout the innings and another Zampa 4-fer.
The Australian middle order can look a little stagnant at times with Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Inglis. However, with Travis Head due to return towards the end of the group stage, it should improve.
The Netherlands produce a huge upset
Rivalling Ireland’s victory over England in 2011 and India’s 1983 World Cup victory, the Netherlands’ dismantlement of the in-form South Africans will go down in history. Scott Edwards strummed a beautiful 78 to push the Dutch to 245/8. Roelof van der Merwe and Aryan Dutt also helped with some crucial runs down the order.
Logan van Beek wheeling away in ecstasy after sealing victory over South Africa
Continual wickets throughout kept South Africa 40 runs short, despite a Keshav Maharaj cameo. Logan van Beek took three crucial wickets, with braces for Bas de Leede, van der Merwe and Paul van Meekeren.
This victory was Holland’s first since 2007 and yet again shows why more teams must be allowed into this competition. Could they turn over any other favourites?
Afghanistan – the giant killers
Merely days after embarrassing England, Afghanistan have taken the scalp of another titan. The spin quartet of Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and player of the match, Noor Ahmad contained Pakistan to a total to 282; Ahmad took career best figures of 3-49.
Noor Ahmad, who starred in the U19 World Cup last year, helped Afghanistan to victory
Afghanistan got off to the perfect start. The in-form Rahmanullah Gurbaz and the prospering Ibrahim Zadran put on 130, before Gurbaz fell for 65. Zadran was dismissed for 87 but Rahmat Shah (77) and, skipper, Hashmatullah Shahidi (48) carried them home with an over to spare.
This was not only their first victory over Pakistan but it was also their highest successful chase in ODIs. Before the tournament, Afghanistan’s main issue was their ability to bat time. These two monumental victories have proven that the batting unit does have the ability. The question now is: can they connect these performances to challenge for the semi-finals?
This was Afghanistan’s third ODI World Cup victory ever