World Cup Match 35 – Sri Lanka vs. South Africa (and the odd other thought)

Yesterday saw India’s inexorable march towards the semi-finals continue as their bowling attack took apart the West Indies batting unit, all but securing their slot in the knockout rounds.

India’s batting was again good, but not great, with first Kohli and then latterly MS Dhoni allowing India to post 269 from their 50 overs. This seemed at best a par score at half time until India’s bowlers made early inroads into a weakened West Indian batting line up and provided them with the chance to easily close the game out with the West Indian team folding to 143 all out, which is certainly a crushing win on paper at least. From what I have seen of the Indian team so far is that they are heavily reliant on Rohit or Kohli to score big runs, which allows the like of Dhoni and Pandya to come in and hit it to all parts at the end of the innings. This hasn’t happened regularly enough yet, although Kohli does look in sublime touch; however if you can get rid of both Rohit and Kohli early enough, then this batting line does look like it could fold for not many. That being said, the Indian bowling attack has been superb this tournament. Bumrah has to be one of the best one-day bowlers in the world at the moment and has been ably assisted Shami and Panday in the pace department. Their spinners however, look even better with both Chahal and Kuldeep not only able to keep the runs down but also get wickets at vital stages. If the pitches in the knockout rounds closely resemble those that we have encountered this week, then India have to be strong favourites to win the World Cup.

As for the West Indies, this has been a hugely disappointing tournament for them with only Brathwaite, Cottrell and Hettmyer contributing regularly. The West Indies have all the tools to be successful in the one-day format, but actually have the application to display those tools regularly has once again proven a step too far.

In other news, it was a certain South African born, ex-English batsman’s birthday yesterday and to coincide with this, Barney Ronay wrote a very good piece in the Cricketer about it (it was never going to be Simon Hughes, who probably thinks Paul Downton should still be in charge of English cricket):

Ronay is a funny journalist, a bit like Jonathan Liew in a way, in that he is very capable of writing some superbly insightful pieces but equally he can also try and a be far too clever for his own good, in that if he was an ice-cream then he’d lick himself. This was definitely one of his better pieces. As this piece might be behind a paywall now, some of the more interesting exerts were:

First, he was right about pretty much everything that got him chucked out of the England team. Yes, everyone plays at the IPL now. Yes, you should just bat like that. And it’s OK to whistle. 

And secondly the ECB is making another mistake in failing to use KP in any role as it tries to build the future, to hurl a grappling hook back to that great lost moment and conjure out of the air the kind of crossover glitz KP understood more instinctively as a punkish 24-year-old than anyone else involved in English cricket.

Ah yes, the whole dressing room culture piece rears its’ ugly head again, you can’t play for England if you’re not from the right family or you’re a threat to dressing room harmony. Talent doesn’t matter, just a willingness to nod when whichever mindless bureaucrat asks you to. After all, why on earth would you be still be playing James Vince if he wasn’t great in the dressing room (which is where he should remain from now until eternity). Non conformists need not apply.

We want skunk-haired glam now, more of it, as much as you have. And Pietersen, the last real star English cricket produced, isn’t involved in running anything at a time when English cricket wants above all to produce stars.

Well yes many of the fans do (and I might conjecture that some individuals would rather set fire to their house instead) but doing what the fans want  and what is good for the game is always a distant last on the ECB’s wish-list, hence why we have this farce of a tournament on our doorsteps putting the very health of the sport in grave danger. Anyway I digress….

As for today’s game, we have a Sri Lankan team who still harbour some hopes in reaching the last four, especially after their recent defeat of England, against a South African team playing for nothing but pride now. Sri Lanka will once again be reliant on one of their openers to get a decent score as well as hoping that Angelo Matthews has batted himself into some form alongside the canny Lasith Malinga making early inroads into the South African attack. As for South Africa, it very much depends if they really want to make a game of this or whether they are mentally packed up and ready for the trip home.

As ever, feel free to leave any comments/thoughts on the below: