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[Cricket] World Cup 2019 Group Stage In Review

This is it! 45 matches and 38 days later the marathon that is the Cricket World Cup group stage has finally drawn to a close. Two-time winners India are sitting pretty at the top of the table having lost just once and will now face fourth-placed New Zealand in the first semi-final at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Two days later, defending champions Australia will meet hosts England at Edgbaston after the arch-rivals finished second and third respectively.

England and West Indies were the only team to hit more than 50 sixes during the league stage of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. England took the most number of catches in the tournament while India dropped only four catches in the tournament – the least among all the teams.

Pacers dominated the league stage as the difference in average and strike rate can been seen easily between fast-bowlers and spinners. Interestingly, all the top-eight highest-wicket takers in the tournament so far are the pacers with Mitchell Starc leading the chart with 26 wickets. Indian bowlers aced the bowling chart during the league stage of this World Cup as their bowlers’ strike-rate of 33.3 is the best among all the teams. Moreover, the top-four teams in this chart are all playing in the semi-finals. Indian bowlers’ once again topped the chart in the bowling Powerplay in terms of economy rate while West Indies bowlers took the most number of wickets in bowling Powerplay during the league stage.

India’s top-three scored the most runs in the tournament, scored most fifty-plus scores in the tournament and had the highest average and strike rate among all the teams during the league stage. They are playing against New Zealand whose top-order’s average of 41.05 is the fourth lowest among all the teams.

While England have been riding their own rollercoaster, the rest of the World Cup has seen immovable bails, a skirmish in a curry house, plenty of rain and a pop princess.

But who have been the winners and losers? Here via the BBC we take a look…

Best match
In a World Cup not blessed with tight finishes, New Zealand and West Indies served up a barely believable thriller on 22nd June – one that was still undecided when Carlos Brathwaite sent the ball into the Old Trafford night.

Chasing 292, the Windies were all but beaten at 245-9, only for Brathwaite to begin a furious assault in the company of last man Oshane Thomas.

A century to his name and with six needed to win, Brathwaite bet the house. Launching the bowling of Jimmy Neesham towards long-on, the ball, and the match, hung up in the air. Six or out? Win or lose?

Trent Boult, tip-toeing round the boundary, clung on. Brathwaite sunk to his knees. New Zealand had won an incredible game.

Best player
Shakib Al Hasan finished the tournament with two centuries and five fifties from his eight innings. Nods must go to Mitchell Starc, leading wicket-taker four years ago and on course for the same again, and Rohit Sharma, with his five centuries.

But for all-round excellence, Starc is pipped by Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan, who almost single-handedly kept an unlikely semi-final bid alive to their penultimate game.

Shakib’s total of 606 runs is bettered only by India’s Rohit and Australia’s David Warner, and he has also added 11 wickets with his left-arm spin.

A megastar in Bangladesh, but far from a household name elsewhere, he would stroll into any other team.

Best innings
Do you prefer a classical concerto or heavy metal? There is no right or wrong answer; they both have their place.

If it’s the former, then stylish, composed centuries made by Babar Azam and Kane Williamson at Edgbaston are for you. Babar kept Pakistan’s World Cup alive with victory over New Zealand on 26 June, seven days after Black Caps skipper Williamson got his team home in a nipper against South Africa.

At the opposite end of the batting scale, Eoin Morgan’s 17 sixes on a riotous afternoon at Old Trafford was part of an England total of 25 maximums against Afghanistan on 18 June. Both are one-day international records.

In a World Cup where batting has been more difficult than anticipated, Morgan’s superb ball-striking had fielders straining their necks and spectators ducking for cover.

Best shot
Players such as Williamson prove that one-day cricket does not always have to be crash, bang or wallop. There is room for piano players alongside the piano movers.

In his hundred against South Africa, Williamson’s New Zealand needed 12 to win from seven balls.

At that point, the temptation would have been to swing for the fences. Not for Williamson, who showed the touch of a surgeon to play the most delicate open-faced run to third man for four. It was breathtaking not only for its brilliance, but for having the thought and nerve to play it in the first place.

Sure, the swept six in the next over made the match safe, but plenty can swipe the balls into the stands. Williamson is an artist.

Best catch
Ben Stokes has only taken two catches since his fine opening-day effort so there are plenty of contenders for this one.

Steve Smith and Martin Guptill have taken fine reaction grabs, Chris Woakes has been having a contest all of his own with an array of diving efforts on the boundary, while West Indies’ Sheldon Cottrell’s throw-up-and-catch, over-the-boundary-and-back show against England was probably the most difficult of the lot.

But it is not all about difficulty. It’s about the moment, and Ben Stokes provided one of the moments of this or any World Cup.

In the very first game on 30 May, with the hosts wanting to start with a bang, Stokes’ spectacular backwards tumble to hold South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo on the leg-side boundary was absolutely wonderful and bettered only by the celebrations of the disbelieving fans behind him.

Best delivery
Mitchell Starc’s bowling has taken more wickets than anybody else in this World Cup. Starc is a death-bowling phenomenon, a loose-limbed force of nature with the ability to crush toes through heat-seeking yorkers.

To make tailenders dance is one thing, but the yorker he produced to demolish the stumps of Stokes at Lord’s on 25 th June was as close to unplayable as it gets.

And here’s the rub. Stokes was well set on 89 and batting beautifully.

Even he was powerless to resist Starc, who will stalk English batsman throughout the coming Ashes series.

Biggest disappointment
Mentions for South Africa, who were as good as out in the first week, and West Indies, who promised much but delivered little.

However, the real let-down has been the performance of Afghanistan, who were tipped to trouble the big boys, but have instead been scuppered by their own chaos.

Pre-tournament wrangling led to a baffling change of captain, coach Phil Simmons tweeted his displeasure and there was the curious incident of a scuffle with a member of the public in a Manchester curry house.

In a 10-team World Cup, they did well to be here at all. Yes, they showed spirit in some games, but to go away winless is a huge disappointment.

Biggest villain
This has been the wettest World Cup on record
Smith and David Warner have been booed in all corners of the country, while back-to-back hundreds have earned Jonny Bairstow forgiveness after his “people were waiting for us to fail” comments.

However, the biggest baddie in this World Cup has been the British weather, which caused four abandonments in the space of a week.

That more rained-off games than at any previous tournament – and Pakistan can rightly feel that the loss of the chance to play Sri Lanka cost them a shot at the semi-finals.

Spare a thought too for Bristol, the ground where two of the games were completely wiped out.

Biggest mystery
Bangladesh’s Mohammad Saifuddin watches as the ball hits the wicket but the bails stay stubbornly in place
Empty seats have been a recurring theme and have certainly been a puzzle, especially when we were told that so many games were sold out.

However, they are out-flummoxed by the gravity defying case of the immovable zing bails, which at one point seemed to be staging a sit-in protest and refusing to fall from their grooves.

On at least six occasions, the ball thwacked into the stumps only for the bails to remain unmoved.

So common was the problem that the International Cricket Council was forced to defend the troublesome bails which, latterly, have been much better behaved.

Biggest surprise
Rihanna at Chester-le-Street
Who will Rihanna be supporting in the semi-finals now West Indies are out?
The World Cup has been devoid of genuine shocks, with England’s freeze against Sri Lanka certainly the most unexpected result.

The biggest surprise, though, came off the field, when pop royalty Rihanna turned up in Durham on 1 July to watch West Indies play Sri Lanka.

From Barbados, Rihanna went to a school that produced plenty of cricketers and was even taught by Windies assistant coach Roddy Estwick.

The connection was there, but was anyone genuinely expecting one of the most famous people on the planet to turn up in Chester-le-Street?

Best moment
Charulata Patel meets Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli has reportedly arranged for tickets for Charulata to watch the semi-finals and final
It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be Virat Kohli. The weight of a billion people on your shoulders, rarely able to go out in public without attracting attention.

And most things that Kohli does are a moment. Giving himself out against Pakistan, complaining about the boundary against England, fielding like a malfunctioning jack-in-the-box.

There was, though, one moment that was just lovely.

In the maelstrom of a World Cup, Kohli was able to take time out to meet 87-year-old India fan Charulata Patel after the game against Bangladesh at Edgbaston on 2 July.

The resulting images were nothing less than heart-warming.

THE STANDOUT PERFORMERS

Rohit Sharma
The leading run-scorer at this tournament, despite playing one fewer innings than his nearest rival, after amassing a staggering 647 runs from eight knocks. Became the first player to ever hit five centuries at a single World Cup and looks set to obliterate Sachin Tendulkar’s record for the most runs scored at a single tournament.

  

David Warner
David Warner led from front for defending champions Australia. Met by jeers and boos at every ground following the ball-tampering scandal but refused to allow the haters to effect his form, which has seen him smash over 600 runs and three tons. The David Warner-Aaron Finch opening partnership has fired more often than not and been one of the key reasons for Australia’s success to date.

Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson helped New Zealand scrape through to the semi-finals (Picture: Getty) The rock in a fragile Kiwi team, Williamson currently lies sixth in the batting charts, with back-to-back centuries against South Africa and West Indies crucial to securing a semi-final spot. Averages over 96 from his seven innings and remains one of the best all-format players on the planet.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli oozes class but is still searching for his first century of the 2019 World Cup. Enjoyed a run of five consecutive fifties as India quickly stamped their authority on the competition, and captained his team to top-spot. Is still awaiting his first century of the 2019 World Cup but that is more a result of a lack of opportunities rather than a lack of form.

Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan produced with bat and ball while cementing his status as the best all-rounder in the world with a breathtaking tournament, scoring over 600 runs at an average of 87 and chipping in with 11 wickets. Joined Tendulkar in becoming one of only two players to score seven or more half-centuries at a World Cup. Bangladesh’s best-ever player.

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes impressed from the moment he took his stunning catch in the opening match. He delivered with bat, ball and in the field throughout England’s stuttering group campaign. Showed his team-mates how it’s done with a pair of 80s in the defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia. Has also bowled tidily and taken seven wickets. Oh, and that catch in the World Cup opener at The Oval will go down in history.

Alex Carey
Australia Wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey has been a revelation for Australia. He justified his inclusion in the Australian squad with a number of eye-catching and crucial innings, most notably in the victories over West Indies and New Zealand and the recent defeat to South Africa. No player batting six or lower has scored more runs than Carey at a World Cup and a more solid wicketkeeper will be hard to find, as demonstrated by his tournament-high 19 dismissals.

Mitchell Starc
Starc is on the cusp of history. The leading wicket-taker of this World Cup with 26 scalps at an average of less than 17. Used sparingly with the new ball, before tearing through teams’ middle and lower orders with extreme pace and stunning accuracy. Equalled Glenn McGrath’s record for the most wickets taken at a World Cup on Sunday and will inevitably move ahead of his compatriot in the semi-final against England.

Mohammad Amir
Mohammad Amir almost got Pakistan into the final-four. The pacer enjoyed a brilliant start to the tournament – taking ten wickets in Pakistan’s opening three games – and his overall figures read well despite a slight drop-off. Produced a superb spell of 5-30 against Australia in Taunton to help finish the group stage as the joint-third leading wicket-taker.

Jofra Archer
One of the stars of England’s World Cup campaign to date, the Barbados-born star is also joint-third in the bowling charts and will improve on that considerably if England lift the title at Lord’s next Sunday. Capable of bowling upward of 95mph, Archer more than justified his late-call up with 17 wickets, a record by an English player at a single World Cup tournament.

Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah is the top-ranked bowler in the world for a reason. He lived up to reputation with a series of match-defining performances and is one of four players with 17 scalps. Impressed throughout but, rather ominously, appears to be peaking at just the right time, having taken ten wickets in his last four appearances and thwarting England in India’s sole defeat.

YOUNG STARS
The group stage also introduced the world to several vibrant young talents set to dominate cricket for years to come. Here are five players who announced their arrival as potential stars:

Nicholas Pooran (West Indies)


Nicolas Pooran finally showcased the talent he has promised to unleash for so long as the batsman finished as the West Indies’ leading run scorer.

The 23-year-old made a duck on his ODI debut before the World Cup but went on to play each of the team’s nine group games, scoring 367 runs at an average of 52.42.

West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick had seen Pooran’s potential five years ago when he scored 143 in an Under-19 World Cup match against Australia.

“I’ve always believed in Nicholas. I’m not surprised by his talent. What’s surprised me is it’s taken as long as this for him to come through,” Estwick said.

Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan)


Pakistan paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi enjoyed a breakthrough World Cup campaign, prompting Wasim Akram to hail the teenager as a future star.

The teenager recorded Pakistan’s best-ever World Cup bowling figures with a scintillating spell of 6-35 in Friday’s win over Bangladesh at Lord’s.

He became the youngest player to take a five-wicket haul at the World Cup at 19 years and 90 days, finishing the tournament with 16 wickets in five games.

“Definitely, Shaheen is one for the future, a beacon of light for the next generation of fast bowlers,” Wasim told AFP.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan)


Afghanistan may have left the World Cup winless after losing all nine matches, but the minnows could take heart from the rise of teenage off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

Mujeeb took just seven wickets in the tournament, but the 18-year-old tormented batsmen with his crafty use of flight and variation, marking him out as one to watch.

Rashid Khan, his senior by two years, remains Afghanistan’s number one spinner, but Mujeeb is coming up fast, as he proved with a superb spell of 3-39 against Bangladesh in Southampton.

Avishka Fernando (Sri Lanka)


When Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne reflected on a frustrating campaign for the 1996 champions, the promising form of fearless batsman Avishka Fernando put a smile back on his face.

The 21-year-old scored 203 runs in only four matches in the tournament, including 104 against the West Indies and 49 in Sri Lanka’s shock win over England.

“We’ve had a few positives out of this World Cup,” Karunaratne said. “Avishka Fernando is playing really well.

“He showed what he can do, he can produce runs for Sri Lanka. He’s one of the future stars.”

Jofra Archer (England)


Barbados-born Jofra Archer has repaid England’s faith with a dazzling breakthrough in his first major tournament.

Archer only became eligible to play for England earlier this year and was fast-tracked into the team just before the World Cup in a bid to make the most of the paceman’s natural gifts.

The 24-year-old’s combination of speed and accuracy made him unplayable at times.

He taken 17 wickets in England’s run to the semi-finals, including a run of four successive three-wicket hauls, leading many to mark him down as the spearhead of his country’s attack for years to come.

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