In one of the most closely fought group stages in World Cup history, as we enter the homestretch, everything is still up for grabs with Pakistan still an unlikely outsider for the fourth semi-final spot. England became the third team after Australia and India to qualify for the knockouts for the first time in 27 years on Wednesday with a 119-run win over New Zealand, who are also effectively heading to the playoffs despite a third straight loss. While it was initially thought to be crystal clear who the fourth semi-finalist would be, a range of upsets overturned the whole qualification scenario of World Cup 2019, paving the way for many teams to give it a fight to the very end.
It’s been an interesting week, with England pummelled by their press, before rebounding with a crushing win over the previously undefeated Indians. Australia flexed their muscles, dominating New Zealand, who have come crashing back down to earth with consecutive losses. Granted, if a few things went their way, they should have beaten Pakistan, but Australia exposed the gap between the Black caps and the top three sides.
As for the rest, only Pakistan were left with a real chance until England went berserk against the Black Caps.
The fifth week of the tournament started with India demolishing the West Indies by 125 runs at Old Trafford with Mohammed Shami taking four wickets as they bowled the West Indies out for only 143 which also knocked the West Indies out of the World Cup. The following day saw the match between South Africa and Sri Lanka stop play when bees swarmed the Riverside Ground pitch as Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla led the run chase with a partnership of 175 runs as they led South Africa to a nine wicket victory over Sri Lanka. On 2nd July 2019, during the India vs Bangladesh match, Bangladeshi cricketer Shakib Al Hasan made history as the first cricketer to score 500 runs and take 10 wickets in a single World Cup.
India secured a semi-final berth with one game to go, when they defeated Bangladesh. England and New Zealand met in the final round, with the winner guaranteed a semi-final position; England won and became the third team to qualify for the semi-finals. However, New Zealand are almost assured of taking the last semi-final place ahead of Pakistan, due to their far superior net run rate. To overtake New Zealand, Pakistan need to win their final round match against Bangladesh by over 300 runs
GAME 34: West Indies vs India, India won by 125 runs
GAME 35: Sri Lanka vs South Africa, South Africa won by 9 wkts
GAME 36: Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Pakistan won by 3 wkts
GAME 37: New Zealand vs Australia, Australia won by 86 runs
GAME 38: England vs India, England won by 31 runs
GAME 39: Sri Lanka vs West Indies, Sri Lanka won by 23 runs
GAME 40: Bangladesh vs India, India won by 28 runs
GAME 41: England vs New Zealand, England won by 119 runs
🇦🇫 Afghanistan – The first team to go home – Afghanistan have yet to win a single match, although they did push India to within 12 runs
🇿🇦 South Africa – The Proteas will not be progressing any further in this Cricket World Cup after a dreadful campaign which saw them become the second team to be eliminated
🌴 West Indies – West Indies started brilliantly by crushing Pakistan in their opening match, but haven’t hit those heights since and will be going home
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka – England’s win over India saw Sri Lanka knocked out of the tournament
🇧🇩 Bangladesh – As a result of their loss to India, Bangladesh were knocked out of the Cricket World cup
🇦🇺 Australia – Australia’s victory over England saw them become the first team to make the semi-finals
🇮🇳 India – India made it to the semi-final with victory over Bangladesh
🏴England – England’s spot in the last four looked in serious danger, but after commanding wins over India and New Zealand Eoin Morgan’s men have made sure their tournament will continue
🇳🇿 The Black Caps – are effectively assured of a semi-final place, but must wait for Pakistan’s match against Bangladesh on Friday to be mathematically sure
🇵🇰 Pakistan – Pakistan are not out of the Cricket World Cup but they might as well be. In order to go through, they will need to smash the world record ODI win against Bangladesh on Friday.
HIGHLIGHT OF WEEK 5
An octogenarian fan stole the limelight with her sheer enthusiasm during India’s World Cup match against Bangladesh on Tuesday. Charulatha Patel, 87, attracted all the cameras as she enthusiastically blew her trumpet, cheering for Kohli and his men from the stands. Wearing a tricolour scarf and with a bright yellow vuvuzela and the national flag in hand, Charulatha was spotted celebrating every moment of India’s win.
Team India’s skipper Virat Kohli went personally to thank her after the 28-run win against which sealed their semi-final berth. Not only Kohli, his deputy and player-of-the-match Rohit Sharma also personally thanked the aged lady and showed his gratitude after India’s win.
As we wrap up Week 5, unexpected outcomes are playing into defending champs Australia’s hands with run-rates dropping and pace bowlers dominating. Hyped by many as the tournament where totals of 400 would become par, scoring rates have dropped from those in the 2015 edition.
Just 41 per cent of games have featured a score above 300, while the run-rate has dropped from 5.65 an over in the tournament four years ago to 5.61. While such a slight drop is not significant, the fact runs have not increased by as much as expected is a surprise.
The average run-rate in ODIs in England since the 2015 World Cup was higher at 5.89, while globally for teams in the tournament it was 5.90.
One theory is that front-line bowlers are available for the competition, as opposed to often being rested in bilateral series. Others argue the pressure on batsmen at World Cups is significantly higher, while England’s early summer rains have also impacted on pitches. Regardless, it’s helped Australia’s title defence as they built their game around being adaptable.
Another facet in Australia’s favour is the lack of reliance on a spinner. While most teams planned around playing with two spinners in most matches, no tweaker is on track to finish in the top 10 wicket takers for the first time in a World Cup since 1975.
India’s legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal has taken 11 wickets in seven matches to be ranked 13th of all bowlers, but is still the leading turner in the competition.
The Aussies have two frontline spinners touring in Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa, but have seldom played both together with the exception of in Asia. There is, however, a suggestion spinners could make a bigger impact in the finals, as well as in Australia’s last group match against South Africa at Old Trafford.
The knockout stage will see two semi-finals, with the winners of each progressing to the final at Lord’s. On 25th April 2018, it was reported that Old Trafford and Edgbaston would host the two semi-finals just as they did back in 1999, with all of the knockout games having a reserve day. Australia qualified for the semi-finals after beating England at Lord’s, India qualified after defeating Bangladesh at Edgbaston and England qualified after beating New Zealand at Riverside. The second placed side after the group stages meet England in semi-final 2 while the group winner meets either New Zealand or Pakistan.
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Leagues up in the Lobby, Go get ’em champs!