After close to 3 weeks of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, we have witnessed many ups, downs, challenges as the 10 participants have turned no stones unturned in showcasing their strengths and more importantly the desire to play in the most important tournament of cricket.
The fans, viewers, analysts following the tournament across the globe look ahead for a smooth script of the remaining one month of cricket in this edition. The current week, though having crossed half of its duration, only one out of 4 matches have produced the desired final outcome.
India was scheduled to take on the Kiwis today at Trent Bridge, Nottingham- the same venue producing 2 epic close encounters of the tournament so far; Australia-Windies & England-Pakistan.
A similar outcome was in minds of the majority of experts, statisticians and fans across the globe regarding the only 2 undefeated teams so far – India and New Zealand. Especially, India, who found themselves in solid momentum after back-to-back wins against South Africa & Australia in all departments of the game.
Chasing the target of 227 on the Southampton track, considered to be a belter where England & Pakistan amassed 734 runs last month seemed to be a cakewalk for the Men in Blue. However, the pace trio of the South Africans was successful to expose the middle-order line-up of India.A blistering knock of 122* by Hitman Sharma, helped the Blues overpower the Proteas and thus made the woes greener for the latter in the tournament.
The arch-rivals Pakistan, despite their humiliating opening loss against the underestimated Windies side turned the scenario upside down within a span of 3 days as the Sarfaraz Khan led Green Army overcame the hosts, England in a high scoring thriller at Nottingham.
From 105-all out to a mammoth score of 348-8, the Champions Trophy winners set forward a classic example of a comeback. Though a minor setback achieved against the defending champions Australia might seem the boys having lost the track- a fighting approach by the team, especially Mohammed Amir who was the star performer for his team.
The left-arm-fast-medium not only beat five kangaroos with his pace and length but also bowled economically. His figures 10-2-30-5 depict the amount of destruction, the individual can cause to the opposition. A consistent approach by Pakistani batsmen too prove to be a lethal weapon, which they would be eager to use it hard against the much fancied Indian bowling line-up.
The top-order contributed 282 runs in the score of 348-8 against the hosts England, whereas the middle-order and lower-order added 163 runs (266) against Aussies. Pakistan will be riding high on confidence when they face Virat-led Indian cricket team at Manchester on Sunday. India’s lower order batting unit, not being exposed in their 2 matches so far in the competition will certainly be on the radar as the Champions Trophy winner look ahead to have a repeat telecast of the 2017 finals against their arch-rivals.
India, having lost on the golden moment of having tested their squad’s combination against the Kiwis today owing to wash-out at Nottingham, aims to bounce back harder on Sunday against Pakistan. Virat Kohli having said earlier in the post-match presentation and press conferences that the team is looking ahead to a single match at a time, the hype revolving around the classic rivalry in the ICC tournaments will certainly be a mouth-watering clash.
India has an edge over Pakistan (5-3) in the format, the latter overpowers with 74-56 in ODI.
The individual battles between the duo too are expected to gather the majority of eyeballs:-
1. Mohammed Amir v Virat Kohli
Five priceless scalps of Aussies by the individual in both his spells turned out to be a horrendous experience for the defending champions even though a victory was registered. Amir stands the capability to break the major backbone of any strong side in the competition through his economical and conservative spells.
Virat, on the other hand, who seemed to have shouldered the responsibility for setting up a smooth platform the Indian middle-order to add runs to the kitty against Aussies will have a bigger challenge lying ahead of him as dealing with the IND-PAK rival atmosphere at Manchester will be an added burden for the Indian skipper. No matter what, Sarfaraz Khan will definitely preserve a major quota of the left-arm pacer for the middle overs.
2. Jasprit Bumrah vs Mohammed Hafeez:
The middle-order batting all-rounder for Pakistan, Hafeez – who turned out to be the Player of the Match against England in the last week has the ability to find back the lost track for his team and build a match winning partnerships at any moment.
Surrounded by Babar Azam and Sarfaraz Ahmed in the batting order, he can quickly change the good looking fortunes of the opposition in no time. Bumrah- the wicket-taking machine for India and has earned his place in the team through his consistent breakthroughs will be put to test against Pakistan especially Hafeez on Sunday.
Hafeez – A calm batsman in the middle finding ways to play for long despite the continuous bombardment of pacers and short-pitch deliveries from both the ends would definetly be a big fish for Kohli- which Bum-Bum-Bumrah look to capture partnering with Bhuvi and Pandya.
3. Babar Azam vs Yuzvendra Chahal
The No. 3 spot Pakistani batsmen and the second fastest to reach 2000 runs in ODI cricket is a good player of spin and this is where the leg break and sharp mind of Chahal will come in the picture.
Yuzi has often seen as picking the top-order and middle-order opposition batsmen despite being a spinner which is the USP of the Indian youngster. His 4 wicket spell against Proteas and important wickets of Warner & Maxwell- the destructive batsmen is an ideal option to keep Babar out-of picture on Sunday.