Cricket – ICC Champions Trophy
Things have become a lot clearer over the weekend and we now know three of the four semi-finalists with the final slot being determined by today’s crunch match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan; more of that later.
England did themselves a lot of favours on Saturday by disposing of the dangerous Australian side. Once again Australia were in a match that was prematurely ended by rain but England were in total control when the heavens opened and won by 40 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Australia looked like they were going to post a score in excess of 300 but the mixture of a fine spell of bowling from Rashid, a brilliant catch by Roy to get rid of Maxwell and some very moderate late order batting saw them subside to 277-9 at the end of their 50 overs.
Mind you, this score was looking good after England had collapsed to 35-3. However, they came out fighting after a brief spell of rain. The Australian attack started to look ragged under a relentless pummelling from Stokes and Morgan. Even when Morgan got himself out to a ridiculous run out, there was no respite for the Australian bowlers as Buttler continued the onslaught. Unfortunately, the rain precluded a proper end to the fray but England were comfortably ahead and Aussie captain Smith had no complaints.
On Sunday, it was a winner takes all match between India and South Africa at the Kia Oval. India won the toss and inserted South Africa and this decision looked to have backfired after South Africa had made serene progress to 140-2 in the 24th over. However, the innings collapsed like a house of cards due to good bowling but mainly some kamikaze running between the wickets resulting in no less than three run outs. The run out of de Villiers, who had made serene progress to 16, was probably the pivotal moment.
South Africa’s final score of 191 was never going to be enough and India cruised to the target with 12 overs to spare. Kohli looked at his masterful best as he worked the ball to all parts with consummate ease. In this form, India must rank as one of the favourites for the ICC crown.
On to today and the final group match sees Sri Lanka take on Pakistan with the winner guaranteed a place in the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka V Pakistan
Venue - The SSE Swalec, Cardiff
Start – 10.30 (BST)
Exchange prices – Sri Lanka (2.20), Pakistan (1.81)
Weather – Bright with sunny intervals by mid-afternoon.
This is a very difficult one to call as it is difficult to know which team will turn up. Both teams were woeful in the first group matches but then Sri Lanka went on to destroy India and Pakistan defeated South Africa. Pakistan’s win was by the Duckworth-Lewis method and, the way the match went, it is still not possible to say that the team has still not got problems in the batting department. However, their bowling did look much improved.
There are just too many unknowns about this match to be unequivocal about this match and you could make reasonable cases for all sorts of match situations. This is, therefore, a game to watch and learn from. At least the weather looks set fair for the next week. Let’s hope Messrs Duckworth and Lewis can take some time off for the remainder of this competition!