Cricket – ICC Champions Trophy
England were comprehensively beaten by a determined, well-drilled Pakistan team on a slow pitch at sunny Cardiff. The England team has come a long way in ODIs in the last two years but they still lack consistency and there was always a concern in my mind at the start of the tournament as to whether they could string the required five good performances in a row to lift the trophy.
Pakistan’s excellent bowling on a slow, worn pitch was too much for England’s batting line-up and we witnessed a performance that was of the headless chicken variety with no apparent plan of what was needed to be achieved or how it should be done.
Their final score of 211 was never going to be enough and the need for quick wickets got to the bowlers who couldn’t deliver the length or direction to exert any pressure on a confident Pakistan batting line-up. As a result Pakistan cruised to an ultra-comfortable 8 wicket win.
A quick word about the pitch before I move on to the second semi-final. The ICC has laid down strict rules about the number of pitches each ground can use in this competititon. This is apparently to create a level playing field for all the competitors. While this is most laudible, I’m not sure that playing the semi-final of a major one-day competition shows the game in its best light.
One day cricket is supposed to be about thrilling, attacking and exuberant cricket, which will never be possible on that pitch so I don’t feel that this semi-final was as good an advert for the game as it should have been. Having said that, it was the same for both sides and Pakistan adapted to the conditions far better on the day.
On to the second semi-final:
India V Bangladesh
Venue - Edgbaston, Birmingham
Start – 10.30 (BST)
Exchange prices – India (1.24), Bangladesh (5.0)
Weather – Dry, mainly bright with sunny spells in the afternoon.
Bangladesh have been the surprise package and won their place in the semi-finals with a comprehensive win over New Zealand. India have been patchy with comprehensive wins over Pakistan and South Africa sandwiching a weak performance against Sri Lanka. If India play to anything like their strength, there can be only one winner in this game and, while it is tempting to back Bangladesh I don’t think the 4/1 on offer represents sufficient value for me to recommend a bet.