The South Asian teams have been simply been bulldozed in the matches so far by their opponents like England did to the South Africans. West Indies, New Zealand and Australia have won by huge margins against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan respectively leaving the latter to lick their wounds and recover before their next encounters. While Pakistan was bounced out of the game by the West Indies, the Sri Lankan batsmen were mostly out playing bad shots on a green pitch that did not swing or seam too much. On the other hand, Afghanistan, though they lost by seven wickets to Australia, showed sparks of brilliance in both their batting and bowling for a team making only their second experience in the World Cup.
West Indies vs. Pakistan
Andre Russell, eager to prove to the world that he can bowl fast, bowled 15 bouncers or short balls in his spell of 18 balls. He got two Pakistani wickets conceding just 4 runs in his spell of 3 overs. Oshane Thomas got 4 and Jason Holder 3 wickets which saw the Pakistan innings fold up at 105 runs. None of the Pakistani batsmen was able to establish themselves at the crease. Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam were joint highest scorers with 22 runs each. The inning would have ended in double figures if it was not for the last wicket stand of 22 runs between Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir.
The West Indians scored the required runs with ease with Chris Gayle in his element. Mohammed Hafeez got an uncomfortable Shai Hope caught for 11 runs and Mohammed Amir had Dwayne Bravo caught in the slips 10 runs later. Chris Gayle was out shortly after reaching his half-century off 33 balls leaving the West Indies at 77 for three. But Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran saw the West Indies home with 218 balls to spare, the latter scoring a brisk 19 ball 34.
New Zealand vs. Sri Lanka
The New Zealand bowlers, unlike the West Indians, relied on the green top at Cardiff play on the Sri Lankan batsmen’s mind. Midway into the ninth over Matt Henry had Sri Lanka reeling at 46 for 3 wickets. He got Lahiru Thirumane leg before, and a settled Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis caught off successive balls. From 46 to the score of 60 Sri Lanka lost five wickets with Lockie Fergusson and Colin de Grandhomme helping themselves to two and one wickets respectively. A 52 runs partnership between Dimuth Karunaratne and Thisara Perera saw Sri Lanka finishing with a score of 136 all out with Karunaratne carrying his bat to remain 52 not out.
The New Zealand batsmen made easy work of the target. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro raised their fifties on either side of the power play, the former off 39 balls and the latter off 41 balls even as Lasith Malinga conceded 46 runs off his 5 overs and none of the bowlers. New Zealand scored the required runs off 16.1 overs leaving the memories of total dominance of New Zealand and a struggling Sri Lankan team. While Sri Lanka will face off against Afghanistan on Tuesday, New Zealand has Bangladesh to contend with on Wednesday.
Australia vs. Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s brisk progress in international cricket continued but they could not maintain the moments of brilliance that they displayed in their match against Australia. While Mitchell Starc bowled Mohammad Shahzad with a ball breaching 150 mph Pat Cummins got Hazratullah Zazai to edge one to the keeper. Rahmat Shah played brilliantly for his 43 runs and Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran put together a stand of 83 runs for the sixth wicket. Najibullah hit two boundaries and two sixes off Adam Zampa in the 29th over on his way to 51 runs off 49 balls. Despite Rashid Khan’s 27 off 11 balls the Afghanistan innings came to an end on 207 runs with 70 balls still remaining to be bowled.
Though Aaron Finch took to Mujeeb ur Rahman with two boundaries in his very first over, Hamid Hasan bowled with some real pace to trouble both the openers bowling a maiden to David Warner in his opening over. Finch reached his fifty in the 14th over, scored from 40 balls hitting Rashid Khan for a four and six in his first over while Warner took his time collecting his runs mostly in ones and twos. Gulbadin Naib finally deceived Finch with a slower ball to have the batsman caught deep cover for a well-made 66 runs. Usman Khawaja failed to read a Rashid Khan googly and was caught in front. Steve Smith and David Warner (89 not out) who was growing more fluent in his stroke play almost saw Australia to the target but Smith was out with Australia 3 runs short. Glen Maxwell corrected that the next ball as he hit a boundary to give Australia victory by seven wickets.
All the matches in the World Cup have been one-sided affairs so far. With Bangladesh playing South Africa and England playing Pakistan next let us hope that the Asian teams put up a better show.