In just three days, we’ve seen a wild range of cricket matches and emotions. India outclassed Pakistan in Manchester, Bangladesh finessed their way to a record run chase against the West Indies and England blew away Afghanistan. In a sell-out match, India scored a high total (but not the highest this week) of 336-5, to which Pakistan could only respond 212-6 in 40 overs. West Indies thought they had an upper hand over Bangladesh, scoring 321-8 in the first innings, but Shakib Al-Hasan and Liton Das had other plans in mind. Finally, Eoin Morgan and co. put up 397-6 vs. Afghanistan, to which Afghanistan heroically scored 247-8. Let’s see which players can call themselves winners or losers and predictions for the next four matches.
India vs. Pakistan
Winner: Rohit Sharma
Century number two in this World Cup for Rohit Sharma and who better to did than against Pakistan? Nearly every shot of Sharma’s was perfect, pulling the short ones, driving the full ones and he even played spin well, despite Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan looking threatening. Unfortunately, one poor shot in which he attempted to scoop Hasan Ali resulted in him being caught out at short fine leg by Wahab Riaz and Sharma had to depart for 140(113).
Winner: Vijay Shankar
Picture this: Your best fast bowler gets injured in the middle of his over and you bring on a part-timer to finish the over and guess what?! He gets the opponent’s opener out first ball.
After Bhuvneshwar Kumar left the field four balls into his third over due to an ankle sprain, Vijay Shankar continued the over. After Pakistani opener Imam Ul-Haq faced four out-swinging deliveries from Kumar, Shankar’s first delivery swung into leg-stump and the umpire had to give him out LBW.
Loser: MS Dhoni
Well, Mohammad Amir is a hard bowler to face, but no one wants to leave the field for just one run off two balls. It was a very short game for MS Dhoni as he didn’t find any catches behind the stumps either while keeping. And if you’re a keeper, the worst way to be dismissed is being caught behind by the wicketkeeper, and that’s exactly what happened to Dhoni after he edged a bouncer from Amir to Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
There’s just something about England which allows Amir to perform well. He’s currently the World Cup’s highest wicket-taker with 13 to his name, adding three of them from against India. First, he managed to make Indian captain Virat Kohli walk after Kohli thought he edged the ball behind. Then his next two wickets were the dangerous Hardik Pandya and Dhoni. Amir is currently Pakistan’s best bowler but he does have a slight issue: the lack of wickets in the first 10 overs when they really matter.
Loser: Hasan Ali
Just like how Amir was forced to sit out of the side for some time until he regained his form, the same is going to have to be done with Hasan Ali. Ever since Australia’s last tour of the United Arab Emirates, Ali has struggled to find wickets and gradually became more expensive. He bowls short balls when unnecessary and hasn’t been able to land a good yorker as of late. This Sunday, against India, Ali became the most expensive bowler in World Cup history (until Rashid Khan bowled against England on Tuesday) with figures of 0-84.
Winner: Imad Wasim
Although it may not feel like it because of the team’s low morale, Wasim had a rather impressive performance, going for only 49 with the ball and scoring 46(39)* with the bat. He scored six boundaries, all fours and put up a 47-run partnership with Khan.
Winners: Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam
Two of Pakistan’s batsmen were able to prove their consistency. Fakhar Zaman scored a half-century, adding on to his previous 114 against India in the Champions Trophy finals in 2017 and Babar Azam pitched in with his 48(57). Together, the duo put up a 104-run partnership, lasting from the fifth to the 25th over, until Azam was bowled by a beauty of a delivery from Kuldeep Yadav and Zaman saw himself caught by Yuzvenda Chahal.
Loser: Shoaib Malik
Pakistan fans needed some hope and their most experienced batsman, Shoaib Malik steps up to the crease. And wow! Pandya has bowled Malik first ball. A full-length delivery removing off-stump, but it was too quick for Malik to get his footwork right and Pakistan has surely lost the match.
Just like Wasim, Pandya used his all-round skills to perform well with both the bat and the ball, scoring 26(19) and taking two wickets, Mohammad Hafeez and Malik back-to-back.
Turns out Pakistan was unable to play spin well as Yadav’s youthfulness was too good for the Pakistani batsmen to handle. When the Zaman-Azam partnership was threatening, Yadav removed both of them in consecutive overs, one being bowled and one being caught.
West Indies vs. Bangladesh
Winners: Mohammad Shaifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman
If these two pacers didn’t bowl well in the death overs, it’s likely that the West Indies would’ve given Bangladesh a target too high to reach. The West Indies had easily reached the 300+ mark, but Mohammad Shaifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman picked up three wickets each and limiting them to just 321-8. The duo’s wickets column are as followed:
- Chris Gayle c. behind Mushfiqur Rahim b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 0(13) WI: 6-1 3.2 overs
- Shai Hope c. Liton Das b. Mustafizur Rahman 96(121) WI: 297-7 47 overs
- Shimron Hetmyer c. Tamim Iqbal b. Mustafizur Rahman 50(26) WI: 242-4 39.3 overs
- Andre Russel c. behind Mushfiqur Rahim b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 0(2) WI: 243-5 40 overs
- Jason Holder c. Mahmadullah b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 33(15) WI: 282-6 43.4 overs
- Dwayne Bravo b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 19(15) WI: 321-8 50 overs
Shaifuddin was effective at striking when the batsmen had just arrived at the crease and were the most vulnerable while Rahman did an excellent job taking the wickets of West Indies’ most important run-getters.
Winner: Evin Lewis
Evin Lewis was struggling in this World Cup, struggling to adapt to English conditions, but that changed against Bangladesh. His 70 off 67 was crucial to prevent Bangladesh from obtaining too many early wickets as Lewis and Shai Hope put on a 116-run partnership, which lasted 127 balls.
Well, sure, having hope and optimism is always nice, but I’m referring to the batsman Shai Hope. But let’s be honest. Does the West Indies have any better batsman at the moment? He’s already scored a half-century against Australia and nearly got a century against Bangladesh here before he got caught by Liton Das on 96. His control is a spectacle to see but the greatest marvel is his temperament, going however slow necessary to establish himself and adapt to the bowling.
Winner: Shimron Hetmyer
Although the West Indies had wickets in their hand by the time Shimron Hetmyer had come out to bat, the other batsmen played a bit defensive, requiring a batsman to put his foot on the accelerator. Hetmyer did exactly that. He made 50 in no time, taking up just 33 balls, pushing the Windies to 242-4 by the time he was dismissed in the 40th over.
Winners: Al-Hasan and Das
Nearly every time Bangladesh wins a historical game, it always involves a long-lasting, middle-order partnership. Nearly every time that happens, Al-Hasan is one of the two batsmen. It was such against New Zealand two years ago at Cardiff, against South Africa a few weeks back in London and now vs. the West Indies in Taunton. Al-Hasan scored his second consecutive century of the tournament and Das nearly did so as well, scoring 95 from just 69. The pair lasted 22.3 overs and scored 189 runs in that short period of time!
Losers: Shanon Gabriel and Oshane Thomas
No matter how good West Indian batting can be, it’s always the fast bowling which the opponents are wary of and it’s always the fast bowlers which have won matches for the Windies. Monday was just not one of those days. Opening bowler Oshane Thomas bowled just six overs as he was deemed too expensive by the captain. His six overs went for 52, bowling at an economy of 8.66, although he was able to pick the one wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim. Extras was another big issue for the Men in Maroon as the Windies bowled a total of 26 of them that day, five of them being Thomas’.
Although Shanon Gabriel only bowled one wide instead of the five, he was far more expensive, bowling 8.3 overs for 78 runs, an economy of 9.17. Bangladesh was able to score many runs off of Gabriel, resulting in not just a win, but a very easy and comfortable win.
England vs. Afghanistan
Winner: Eoin Morgan
Many doubted Eoin Morgan would have even played in this match after he suffered back spasms against the West Indies, but Morgan came out to bat and that was the end of the match for Afghanistan. Every single strike was clean from the England captain, hitting seventeen sixes, scoring a total of 148 runs from just 71 deliveries. One hundred and four of those runs were just in sixes and Morgan hit more than 1400 meters of sixes on Tuesday.
Winner: Moeen Ali
There have been questions regarding Moeen Ali’s forms as of late as he failed to get going with the bat in the first few matches and was dropped in the following matches. However, coming into the match against Afghanistan, Ali picked the spinners easily, scoring a four and four sixes, propelling the Birmingham man to 31(9)*. He was fine with the ball as well, like usual, conceding only 35 runs in his seven overs for a good One-Day economy of five.
Loser: Rashid Khan
The world’s number one spinner faced the harsh reality of how cruel international cricket can be. Just two days after Ali became Pakistan’s most expensive World Cup bowler with figures of 0-84 against India, Rashid Khan was hit by England’s batsmen for 110 runs from just nine overs, conceding 11 sixes. This will definitely be a day to forget for Khan.
Winner: Rahmat Shah
Without context, the scoreboard cannot tell you the full story. Of course, Afghanistan’s 247-8 was nowhere near England’s 397-6, but Afghanistan actually batted quite well, considering their previous matches. Failing to score 200+ yet in this World Cup, Afghanistan tackled England’s large score head on. Rahmat Shah was a crucial part of that as his 46(74) prevented a middle-order collapse from taking place. He also did well in the field, securing two catches to dismiss Joe Root and Morgan.
Winner: Hashmatullah Shahidi
Cricket fans would’ve been waiting for Hashmatullah Shahidi to put up a good performance after his half-century help Afghanistan beat Pakistan and they got treated to exactly that. Shahidi was able to achieve his maiden World Cup half-century, scoring 76 from 100 balls, before being bowled by Jofra Archer.
Round Seven predictions:
Australia vs. Bangladesh at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire on Thursday, June 20:
If Australia bats first: Australia to win by 30 runs.
If Bangladesh bats first: Australia to win by six wickets.
England vs. Sri Lanka at Headingley, Leeds on Friday, June 21:
If England bats first: England to win by 55 runs.
If Sri Lanka bats first: England to win by seven wickets.
Afghanistan vs. India at The Rose Bowl, Southampton on Saturday, June 22:
If Afghanistan bats first: India to win by nine wickets.
If India bats first: India to win by 190 runs.