Weekly World Cup Analysis By DoJMA: Week 1

The ICC Cricket World Cup has been underway for a week now, and we here at DOJMA aren’t going to leave you hanging! Every week, we’ll update you with news on the matches that’ve happened, with information on some of the best performances, best cricketers, and most stunning encounters, and the intriguing match-ups that await us. The first week of this World-Cup has seen some one-sided encounters, and just as many absolute thrillers…


So, how’s everyone performed so far?

 With most teams having played just one or two matches and having won one of them, the points table isn’t too surprising yet. New Zealand are the only team to have won two games, having demolished Sri Lanka and held back Bangladesh, and therefore lead the table, followed by the West Indies, Australia, England, and India. Perhaps the only surprise is South Africa, who certainly weren’t expected to lose all of their first three matches. They find themselves in ninth place, only ahead of Afghanistan.


Best match this week?

 It’s a tie between the England-Pakistan match and the Bangladesh-New Zealand match. No one gave Pakistan a chance to beat the tournament favorites and the top-ranked ODI team, especially on the back of their 7-wicket shellacking at the hands of the West Indies, and their 11-match losing streak. But at the same ground where they were bounced into submission by the men from the Caribbean, Pakistan put up a spirited all-round performance to stun England. England tried replicating West Indies’ short-ball tactics, but Pakistan were prepared, and openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq gave their team a strong and blazing start. After their dismissals, Babar Azam and veteran Mohammed Hafeez anchored the innings well, until Azam departed in the 33rd over for a well-made 63. With captain Sarfaraz Ahmed for company, “The Professor” Hafeez cut loose, showcasing some stunning shots as he and the lower order pushed Pakistan to 348/8.


It was a total that England were expected to chase, but some disciplined bowling from Pakistan’s bowlers saw England reduced to 118/4 in the 22nd over, with their chase looking shaky. Hafeez contributed here, too, taking the wicket of English captain Eoin Morgan. That’s when Joe Root and wicket-keeper Jos Buttler combined for a century partnership, revitalizing England’s hopes. Both managed to make centuries– with Root making the first century of this World Cup– but were dismissed shortly after the landmarks. England’s lower order had too much to do, and eventually needed 26 off the last over, which they couldn’t accrue. Pakistan’s bowlers, though expensive, came through with crucial wickets at the right moments. In contrast with Pakistan’s team performance, England were left ruing their individual perfomances, as Root, Buttler, Moeen Ali and Mark Wood perfomed with the bat or ball, but others proved quite ineffective.


Bangladesh’s story was quite different. Unlike Pakistan, they won their opening match, surprising many with their defeat of South Africa. However, their opponents, New Zealand, were coming off of a 10-wicket win against Sri Lanka, and with a seaming track at their disposal, were expected to beat Bangladesh, too, despite the far greater challenge they posed compared to Sri Lanka. Bangladesh were made to bat first, and did manage a strong start, until Soumya Sarkar was dismissed in the 9th over for 25. After Tamim Iqbal departed shortly after, veterans Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored half centuries against South Africa, attempted another recovery, but it was cut short as Rahim was dismissed for 19. Shakib carried on to score another brilliant half-century, but his dismissal saw Bangladesh collapse, losing their last six wickets for 65 runs. Mohammad Saifuddin made a quickfire 29, while Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain’s slow innings bogged the team down. Matt Henry and Trent Boult took four and two wickets respectively, while Lockie Ferguson and Mitchell Santner contributed too with economical spells and a wicket each.


In reply, Martin Guptill and Colin Munro got the Black Caps off to a very good start, but Shakib had both openers back in the dressing room by the end of 10th over. Captain Kane Williamson and veteran Ross Taylor took over from there with a 105-run partnership that put New Zealand on course for an easy win, but Mehidy Hasan dismissed both Williamson and Tom Latham in one over to give Bangladesh another chance, which they used very well. Williamson had been going quite slowly, and with two quick wickets, even Taylor, who had been scoring freely till then, slowed down, until his dismissal in the 39th over for 82. That was the wicket Bangladesh needed, and they tested the lower order with probing lines, eventually leaving New Zealand at 218-7. However, Santner saved the day with a quick fire 17*, combining with the remaining batsmen to scrape to a 2-wicket win. As a result, New Zealand lead the points table, but Bangladesh have sent a message out to all other teams that they are not to be taken lightly.


This week’s top performers?

 Bangladesh’s star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan scored two excellent half centuries against South Africa and New Zealand, not to mention taking crucial wickets. In fact, his wicket of Aiden Markram in Bangladesh’s opening match saw him become the fastest all-rounder in ODIs to get 5,000 runs and 250 wickets– a brilliant achievement, for sure.


New Zealand’s pacer Matt Henry wasn’t even a certain starter for the World Cup, but he made the most of his inclusion ahead of the experienced Tim Southee with 7 wickets in his two matches. His 3-29 against Sri Lanka saw him claim the Man of the Match award, and while that award went to Ross Taylor in the match against Bangladesh, Henry’s 4-47 in that match was certainly an importnat contribution.


English batsman Joe Root was expected to score heavily for England in this World Cup, and he’s started well, with a classy half-century against South Africa and an equally stylish century against Pakistan, the first century of this World Cup. Though he scored the century in a losing cause, Root’s form will certainly bolster the tournament favorites.


This week’s underperformers?

 Former Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews is yet to score a run in this World Cup, having made scores of zero against both New Zealand and Afghanistan. Sri Lanka don’t have the strongest squad and are from favorites to make the playoffs, so if they want to make good progress, they will need runs from their star batsman.


While Bangladesh have started their World Cup well, with a win against South Africa and a narrow loss against New Zealand, their opener Tamim Iqbal hasn’t come good yet, with 40 runs in two matches. What’s worse is his scoring rate– if not for his opening partner Soumya Sarkar, Bangladesh would’ve had quite slow starts in both matches. However, the experienced batsman still has time to turn his form around, particularly as most of his teammates are performing well.


South African veteran batsman Hashim Amla hadn’t scored many runs leading into the World Cup, and his shallow returns have continued to hurt South Africa. While he sat out South Africa’s second match, against Bangladesh, with an injury, he scored a combined 19 runs against England and India, and South Africa have found it hard to come back from poor starts in their three matches so far. For South African fans, and, in fact, cricket fans around the world, it’s sad to see an aging modern-day legend perform poorly, and they’ll hope he returns to his best soon enough.


Best performances this week?

 What exactly is an “all-round” performance? English all-rounder Ben Stokes probably laid down the definition in the tournament’s opening match, where, against South Africa, he scored a match-winning 89, claimed 2 wickets while conceding 12 runs, and took a breath-taking catch (one that you may have seen doing the rounds on social media this week) to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo. His performance showed everyone once again why he’s among the world’s best all-rounders.


Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Pradeep was exceptional in Sri Lanka’s match against Afghanistan, helping the island nation defend a paltry score of 187 with his 4 wickets, conceding just 31 runs. With every ball he looked like taking a wicket, and Afghanistan eventually succumbed to his prowess with the ball as he combined with veteran pacer Lasith “Slinga” Malinga to bowl out Afghanistan for 154.


The reason that Sri Lanka only had 187 to defend, however, is Afghan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi. Sri Lanka were cruising towards a big score at 144-1 in the 22nd over when Nabi took 3 wickets in an over to break the back of the Sri Lankan line-up and trigger a stunning batting collapse, with the other Afghan bowlers chipping in. From 144-1, Sri Lanka lost their last 9 wickets for just 57 runs and ended up all out for 201, with Nabi ending with great figures of 4 wickets for 30 runs. The match was rain-affected, and so the score that Afghanistan had to overcome was set to 187.


India may have started their World Cup campaign later than other teams, but star batsman Rohit Sharma ensured they weren’t left behind in their opening match against South Africa. In a tricky chase of 228, Rohit survived some fiery bowling early on from pacer Kagiso Rabada with a little bit of luck, and then made use of his chances to make a well composed century, batting all the way through the innings to finish on 122 not out.


What should I look forward to next week?

 Indian fans, you’ll have to wait just a little longer for the India-Pakistan match, which is on June 16th! Till then, you can watch India take on the formidable Aussies on the 9th, followed by New Zealand on the 13th. Aside from that, England, fresh from a loss against Pakistan, will take on a strong Bangladesh team on the 8th. The Windies’ next match, on the 10th, will be against South Africa, who need to beat the men from the Caribbean if they wish to make the playoffs!


DoJMA Predicts…

 This week’s matches include New Zealand vs. Afghanistan on the 8th and Australia vs. Pakistan on the 12th, games that the Oceanian countries should win easily. Sri Lanka are likely to lose their next two encounters, as they play Pakistan on the 7th and Bangladesh on the 11th. England’s match with Bangladesh on the 8th and South Africa’s potential last-stand against the West Indies on the 10th are matches that could go either way, but England and the West Indies are favorites to win those matches. India’s matches against Austalia and New Zealand are almost perfectly evenly matched, but India probably have a slight edge over the Aussies, while in their Kiwi encounter on the 13th, their opponents have the advantage.


Having said all of that, this is cricket– what finally happens is anyone’s guess!