News Cricket

Australia defeat hurts me a lot – Imam-ul-Haq

Staff Writer Updated: 4 July, 2019, 4:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Pakistan are looking to end their World Cup campaign on a positive note as chances of qualifying for the semi-finals are almost over after England's triumph against New Zealand.

Men in Green will have to defeat Bangladesh by at least 311 runs to have glimmer of hope as far as semis are concerned. If Bangladesh bat first, Pakistan will be knocked out even before the first delivery is bowled.

"We are not thinking on the lines of not reaching semi-finals. Our plan is to play the semi-final with an all-out effort and at the end if that doesn't happen then we have to play positive cricket and end on a high," said opener Imam-ul-Haq.

Imam is most hurt with the loss against Australia as he was batting exceptionally well and his wicket started Pakistan’s downfall.

"I think the Australia defeat hurts me a lot. I was set and playing well. I should have won that match for Pakistan. We lost four quick wickets and I think I should have won that game and we would have beaten a big team in the World Cup."

"I think what expectations I had from myself I could not do like that," said Imam, who has so far scored 205 in seven innings.

"I had starts but couldn't score big. I am very young so I have learned a lot in this World Cup. What mistakes I have committed, I have learned from them and I am sure that will help me," said the 23-year-old Imam.

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News Cricket

Five selectors combined wouldn't have made the runs Rayudu has in his career: Gambhir

Harshit Anand Updated: 4 July, 2019, 3:55 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Ambati Rayudu, who is 33 years old, announced his retirement from all forms of cricket yesterday. He will not play in IPL as well. Given, his age, it seems like a premature retirement. It is speculated that Rayudu has been shattered by his non-inclusion in the World Cup.

He didn't make it to the original World Cup squad but was named in stand-by players. However, when Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar got injured, it was Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal, who made the cut to the team ahead of him.

Many former players feel Ambati Rayudu was hard one by the selectors and the team management. Notably, Mayank Agarwal, who was not even in the standby list was picked on the insistence of Indian team management.

Commenting on Rayudu’s decision to quit all forms of cricket during a TV show, Gambhir said, “According to me, the selectors have been a complete disappointment this World Cup. Rayudu’s retirement decision is because of them and their decision-making skills are to be blamed for this.”

“Five selectors combined would not have made the runs Rayudu has in his career. I feel extremely sad about this retirement.”

“Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal got selected amidst the World Cup injuries, and anyone in Rayudu’s place would have felt equally bad. A cricketer like him that has played so well in the IPL and for the nation, scored three 100’s and ten 50’s, and despite that if a player has to retire – it is a sad moment for Indian cricket,” added Gambhir.

News Cricket

“We know Dhoni bhai is there. He has the answer to every question'

Harshit Anand Updated: 4 July, 2019, 3:44 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni's slow batting has got him slammed by a vast section of people. But Indian cricketers are still backing the old warhorse against all the odds. Earlier, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma backed the way Dhoni bats in death overs. Dhoni's problems against spin have aslo been paramount and he has failed to rotate the strike in middle-overs, which dents team India's momentum.

Now, other members of the Indian team have also outlined the importance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Indian team, which people on the outside chirping about him don't quite realize.

Speaking to IANS, a member of the Indian squad said, “Let’s be honest. We are not England when it comes to batting. We have a tail and when Mahi bhai walks in, more often than not, he needs to keep that in mind. He doesn’t have the freedom say a Ben Stokes has because England bat till almost number 10, we don’t. We lost two wickets in the final over against Bangladesh the moment he got out.

“As for his experience on the field, he is the man who has the answer to every question we have. If Plan A doesn’t work, he gives you B, C and D. In fact, even during the game against Bangladesh on Tuesday, did you notice him constantly guiding Rishabh Pant and telling him about the areas he should target? You cannot buy that experience in the market,” the player said.

News Cricket

Michael Clarke slams Dhoni haters, says MS is a great, you don't doubt greatness

Harshit Anand Updated: 4 July, 2019, 3:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni has a big fanbase. Not only the general public but even former and present cricketers have utmost love and respect for him. We have seen how present Indian cricketers including Indian captain, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma have supported him in times of intense scrutiny. Now, former Australian captain, Michael Clarke has also thrown his weight behind him.

"People haven't learnt by now to not doubt MS Dhoni. I will say this... over and over and over again. You don't doubt greatness. And MS Dhoni is a great. He is the greatest finisher to ever play to this game," Michael Clarke told India Today.

"Right now, India is doing it without MS Dhoni firing. Don't waste him now. Save him for when India really need him. He might do it in the semi-final, he might do it in the final," Clarke added.

India will now take on Sri Lanka on July 6 at Leeds having already qualified for the semi-finals of the World Cup. It is likely that England and India will lock horns at Edgbaston in the semi-finale.

News Cricket

Rohit is from a different planet altogether when he gets going – KL Rahul

Staff Writer Updated: 4 July, 2019, 2:45 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul have formed a solid partnership for Men in Blue in the ongoing World Cup since Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the tournament. Rahul, who has opened the innings in his absence, has played some impressive knocks including the 77 against Bangladesh. However, he has failed to convert starts into big ones and has been overshadowed by Rohit Sharma's brilliance.

With Hitman going great guns in the World Cup, Rahul stated it would be a foolish thing to do if decides to bat like his opening partner. Rahul further added that he has done well in the event so far but isn't fully convinced with his display for India.

"You would be a fool to be tempted to bat like Rohit because he is in a different class, he is from a different planet altogether when he gets going," he said.

"It will be great to score big runs for every batsman when he walks in that's what he wants to do. I've been batting well, in a good headspace. I just want to keep doing the things I've been doing right, try and probably improve each innings and see if I can prolong the right things I've been doing till 60-70. If I can do it for a bit longer, obviously I'll get the big score and it will benefit the team," he added.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli assured Charulata Patel of tickets for India’s remaining matches in the World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 4 July, 2019, 2:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The World Cup match between India and Bangladesh was attended by one of the special fans of Men in Blue. Charulata Patel, who is 87-year old, was seen cheering for the Indian team.

She became social media's sensation and her images took the internet by storm. Having gained all the limelight, she was also treated well by the Indian players. Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, and his deputy Rohit Sharma not only met her but also sought her blessings.

Speaking to Times Now, she has revealed that Virat Kohli has promised her of tickets for Men in Blue's remaining matches in the tournament.

“They came to meet me, shook hands, touched my feet. I was on chair, they didn’t let me get up. I gave them my blessings. I hugged and kissed them,” Patel said before adding, “Kohli told me that I will have to come a couple of time more in the tournament. I told him the tickets are not easily available to which he said not to worry and that he will arrange them for me. I had never thought I will get to meet these cricketers today but it was my dream.”

Feature Cricket

Selectors, Team India management disrespected Ambati Rayudu

CT Contributors Updated: 4 July, 2019, 2:25 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

On Wednesday, India’s middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu went on to announce his retirement from all forms of cricket. This was due to the fact that the senior cricketer was overlooked on repeated occasions for India’s World Cup 2019 squad. Rayudu, was first overlooked in the main 15-member squad as Vijay Shankar was preferred over him. He was kept on standby.

A post injury to Shikhar Dhawan and Shankar himself, Rayudu was still ignored on both occasions. Firstly, the selectors included fellow stand-by player Rishabh Pant, who came in for Dhawan. And then when Shankar was injured, Rayudu saw Mayank Agarwal come in. The latter wasn’t even in the probable list and it was pretty alarming to see Rayudu not being considered.

This showed how far he fell off the ranks in the mind of the selectors and the management. Just last year, Virat Kohli had stated that Rayudu will be backed till the World Cup. But one poor series against Australia at home saw Rayudu not only be sent off to the bench, but also get overlooked for the World Cup. It was a crushing blow. But then something major happened when Rayudu was overlooked for Mayank.

Every cricketer has a dream to feature in a World Cup. And Rayudu at 33 knew that this was his final chance. This was absolutely a low moment for an experienced batsman, who must have been gutted seeing the instances fold in a quick span of time. Rayudu deserved to be called especially when the management decided to replace Shankar with a batsman.

It shows that the selectors and the management do not know what the main team should be. They are still in experimental mode and do not know what their batting order should be. This is indeed a sad plight. India will likely face England in the semis and these moments of doubts could hurt the team.

Also, keeping someone in the loop as a reserve and then pouring cold waters on his aspirations is something Rayudu didn’t deserve. If he was never in the plans, then one should not have kept him as a stand-by. The decision by Rayudu was an emotional one. He was let down by the side and the selectors. Also, just one poor series saw his progression get hampered. This is absolute joke. It’s a sorry picture and one feels the Indian team management and selectors are in a confused zone.

Feature Cricket

Would have been travesty had England not made the semifinals

Partab Ramchand Updated: 4 July, 2019, 2:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

They entered the World Cup as the favourites and the No 1 ranked team, during the campaign they slipped to No 2 but right now they are back on top again. With this exalted status, their recent brilliant form and the balanced team personnel it would have been a travesty if England did not make it to the semifinals. There was a brief while when after two successive losses their entry into the last four was in some danger. But raising their game in the manner of the champions that they are England won the last two games to take their appointed place in the semifinals. With Australia due to play South Africa and India to take on Sri Lanka they are likely to remain in third spot in the points table which means another high octane clash between India and England is on the cards and one could travel miles to see that game.

But that is in the future. It is true that England blew hot and cold during their campaign but there was always the feeling that they could not be kept out of a berth in the semifinals. They are too good a side to face elimination at the group stage was the general opinion and the team, cornered and desperate at a late stage of their campaign and stung to the quick by some harsh criticism from former players took it up as a challenge to get the better of two heavyweights India and New Zealand in their last two games.

The fact remains that England are a great side with perhaps the most destructive batting line-up in the game backed by a balanced bowling attack. In addition they have a couple of all-rounders and the ideal sheet anchor in Joe Root who can work things out admirably aside bit hitters and stroke playing batsmen like Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes. They have three out of the top run getters in Root, Bairstow and Stokes and two of the top five wicket takers in Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. Their formidable batting has accounted for the two highest totals in this competition and four of the nine highest totals. Theirs is the one batting line-up that can intimidate the opposition for one attacking batsman follows another.

History may be against England. The last time they entered the World Cup semifinal was way back in 1992 though they still remain the only team in the history of the competition to make at least the semifinals on five successive occasions – from 1975 to 1992 being runners-up on three occasions. Maybe it is England’s turn to finally win the cup. This is clearly their best chance.

Opinion Cricket

2019 World Cup: Have Hindi commentators missed the plot by singing praises all the time?

CT Contributors Updated: 4 July, 2019, 2:13 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Commentary in the past was always about English and there was an aura about the same. Over time, in a nation like India, the market changed in terms of bringing in regional language for commentary. The entire nation mainly chooses Hindi as the preferred commentary. Channels like Star Sports and Sony also shifted the ball completely to include other regional languages as well like Tamil and Bengali.

Having said that, over the last few years, Hindi commentary has been the most in thing for fans. The viewership numbers have changed and Hindi has gone on to top English as the preferred channel for watching a cricket match. Generally, now we have several sets of commentators doing Hindi and English stints.

In the ongoing World Cup 2019, Hindi commentary has once again gained the upper hand over English in India. Hindi commentators entertain more. They seem like poets at times. They also pick idioms on many occasions and keep the fans entertained. The connection is mainly with rural and semi-urban people and several commentators bring out a different energy.

But with all this, one thing needs to be highlighted. Hindi commentary doesn’t give you the same analysis and knowledge as English commentators do. Also, keeping the source target audience aside, Hindi commentators need to be more responsible in terms of analysis.

Sometimes the commentators make you cringe, sometimes you chuckle and other times you get swayed by their comments. Now in the ongoing World Cup, during India’s match against England, Hindi commentators played down several things. When a Sourav Ganguly or a Nasser Hussain hit out at Indian batsmen for not showing any intent, the Hindi commentators hardly were true with their views.

MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and the likes of the top order were criticized rightly so for not living up to expectations, yet Hindi commentators kept singing tunes of praise. Someone like Rishabh Pant was praised for an innings of 32. He clearly lacked intent as a match-winner and should have stayed on longer. Now is it right? As a viewer one should be getting proper analysis and the truth behind everything. Not just poetry and meaningless words.

Hindi commentators need to be more precise, analytical and keep things entertaining at the same time. But they rather choose to go overboard with everything. This is something that needs to be sorted in the coming time.

News Cricket

Fired-up Bairstow leaves bat to do the talking

AP Updated: 4 July, 2019, 1:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

There's nothing "negative and pathetic" about Jonny Bairstow's batting at the Cricket World Cup.

They were the words used by former England captain Michael Vaughan to describe fellow Yorkshireman Bairstow for suggesting that pundits wanted England to lose at the tournament.

Bairstow has acknowledged that criticism fired him up before scoring 111 against India in a crucial win at the weekend, and he has followed that with a knock of 106 on Wednesday to set England up for a 119-run win over New Zealand and a spot in the semifinals.

"Back to back 100s .. That's the way to do it Jonny Bairstow," Vaughan tweeted during the match against New Zealand. "Me and you must fall out more often."

Bairstow and fellow opener Jason Roy — who have three straight century partnerships in this World Cup — appear to hold the key to English success over the coming 10 days as they look to win a global 50-over title for the first time.

They set the tone for the innings with their positive, aggressive strokeplay, and have become England's best ever opening combination. By bringing up 100 in the 15th over, they achieved their 10th century stand since being thrown together over the last two years after Alex Hales lost his place in the team.

Roy has missed three games in this tournament because of injury and England lost two of them — to Sri Lanka and Australia. It plunged the tournament host and top-ranked side into some turmoil, leaving them needing to beat India and New Zealand to guarantee qualification to the semis.

Back in situ against India, they put on 160 for the opening wicket to breathe new life into England's once-formidable batting lineup. On Wednesday, the opening stand was 123 until Roy fell for 60.

"I think batting together for a period of time helps," Bairstow said. "You understand each other's games, each other's moods, get a feel for certain bowlers on certain pitches. The communication is key."

Bairstow was relentless as he went through his repertoire of strokes against New Zealand, including a straight drive for four in which he held his pose and then a straight six down the ground.

He flicked a full toss for four to bring up his century, and leapt in the air in celebration. England captain Eoin Morgan said Bairstow produced the "match-winning" innings.

"I thought we were outstanding today," Morgan said, "and it started with the two boys again at the top of the order, laying a good solid platform, batting how they do.

"It's not really calmness, it's more excitement. Guys are buzzing and smiling at how ridiculous some of the shots the two guys are playing. Good balls are being hit for four or six."

Bairstow seems to thrive when he is answering back to critics. It's as if he welcomed those comments from Vaughan to ignite a spark inside him at a critical stage in England's World Cup campaign.

England might be happy for Vaughan to get back on Twitter if this is the result.

News Cricket

Chris Gayle not ready to go gently into that good night

Staff Writer Updated: 4 July, 2019, 11:57 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Plenty of excellent batsmen are playing their last Cricket World Cup.

Hashim Amla. Shikhar Dhawan. MS Dhoni. JP Duminy. Mohammad Hafeez. Shoaib Malik. Shaun Marsh. Shakib Al Hasan. Ross Taylor.

None, however, will be as missed as Chris Gayle.

Some of those others have more trophies, some more runs, even more wickets, and some have more match-winning knocks, but none make a stadium shake like Gayle.

When Gayle appears in his 35th and last World Cup match on Thursday in Leeds, for West Indies against Afghanistan, cricket followers won't be watching to see him nudge the ball around to keep the fielders busy. They want to see the self-proclaimed great live up to his self-styled hype and hit sixes. Smear the bowlers to every boundary, and soaring over those, too. They want to see balls rainbowing into stands of dancing and singing fans.

Nobody hits sixes like Gayle. He can make it look he's chipping from just off the green. He doesn't even have to middle the ball with his planks of willow stamped with "The Boss" on them. They still fly far.

In one of his great one-day international innings, a 42-ball 80 in 2009 at Kensington Oval, one of his sixes went up the pavilion stairs and into the England changing room. Fetch that.

Back in Bridgetown again, against England again, in February, he launched the white ball out of the stadium five times, all of them last seen heading toward the docks. In the second match, also at Kensington Oval, another six cleared the roof from a mere paddle sweep of Moeen Ali. At Gros Islet, he sent a Chris Woakes delivery on to the pavilion roof. He splattered a record 39 sixes in that series, averaged 106, and ensured he was coming to England for a fifth World Cup.

To hit 39 at age 39 made him happy, and not surprised. Hitting sixes, he said at the time, "just comes naturally."

"If it's one thing about me, my mindset is that even when I'm 60 I still think I can do it. I feel that when I reach age 60, I can still go up against the best bowlers in the world and still score runs. That's how I feel. That mindset will never change; it's just the body that is the worrying part for me."

In the history of ODIs, only the retired Shahid Afridi has more sixes, 351 to Gayle's 326. Then again, Afridi played 101 more matches, and he didn't face the new ball and fresh bowlers like Gayle has. Nobody else active is even close to them. Rohit Sharma has 230 sixes, Eoin Morgan 211, Jos Buttler 125.

Gayle has a dozen sixes at this World Cup, his second best tally. He hit 16 alone in one match at the 2015 World Cup, in a then-record 215 score against Zimbabwe in Canberra.

He started here in style with consecutive sixes back over pacer Hasan Ali's head in a 34-ball 50 against Pakistan.

Gayle was unlucky against Australia, being limited to 21 runs. He creamed Pat Cummins for three consecutive boundaries, then was lbw to Mitchell Starc. But it should have been a free hit. Starc no-balled the delivery beforehand but it was missed.

Gayle sent a six back over Woakes and made Jofra Archer get out of the way in 36 against England.

Bangladesh gave him the second duck of his World Cup career, 16 years after it gave him the first.

Then there was the New Zealand game at Old Trafford. He flicked consecutive sixes off Matt Henry, was dropped three times, then lashed consecutive sixes off Mitchell Santner 20 rows up into the stands. The party ended, until Carlos Brathwaite came alive, when Gayle was out trying to hit another six but top-edged a slower ball.

He added a couple more sixes in 35 against Sri Lanka, but this World Cup hasn't been vintage for him. Gayle has looked all of his 39 1/2 years on the slow, sticky pitches of England. The grey flecks in his dreadlocks and beard have looked greyer while he has dealt with back and groin issues. His showmanship while fielding has appeared to try and hide his inability to expertly cover his patch of grass.

West Indies accepted his cautious starts long ago, rightly believing he can quickly make up for the string of dot balls with power shots. He often appears rooted to the crease, hardly moving his feet, and yet the ball still finds itself buried in excited crowds. Two half-centuries in seven innings show he hasn't quite clicked like the rest of the batting lineup.

To hear his coaches and teammates, it doesn't affect him. He accepts his time is nearly up but lives in the present, sure he can smother any bowler. He's proud of his achievements — this year passing 10,000 ODI runs, and 1,000 in World Cups — and wants to make the crowd happy. The likes of captain Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, and Nicholas Pooran have praised his willingness to pass on advice, and the depth of it. They say his relaxed demeanor calms nerves in the changing room.

Venus Williams, who also happens to be 39, once said the joy of winning is fleeting, but addictive. She added she wouldn't forgive herself if she quit playing tennis while she had more left in her.

Back in February, Gayle said the ODI series against England was his last at home, and this World Cup would be his ODI swansong. But last week he changed his mind. He wants to play the three ODIs when India tour in August, and maybe a test match for the first time in five years. The second and last test just happens to be in his Kingston hometown.

Gayle can barely walk. But he can definitely still hit.

News Cricket

Streaker in the sun delays World Cup game

Staff Writer Updated: 4 July, 2019, 11:51 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

He danced on the wicket. He did cartwheels. He escaped the clutches of not one, not two, not three but four flailing members of security.

A streaker wearing nothing but a green hat ran onto the field during a high-stakes match at the Cricket World Cup between host England and New Zealand and provided around five minutes of entertainment that had a packed crowd roaring with laughter.

Stewards and security were extremely slow to react as the spectator halted play by jogging toward the middle of the field and dancing about in front of New Zealand batters Tom Latham and Mitchell Santner. He then set off on a gentle run, weaved around security staff as they attempted to stop him, before he was brought to the ground and a coat placed around his midriff.

With the crowd cheering inside the quaint Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street, northern England, the streaker briefly broke free from four members of security who had a hold of him — their attempts to stop him resembled rugby players missing tackles — and ran back toward the middle.

He was stopped for a second time and led away. The sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council, later said he had been arrested.

England fans had another reason to smile — their team won by 119 runs and advanced to the semifinals.

News Cricket

Disappointed Virat Kohli and Co. didn't stand up for Pakistan in WC: Mickey Arthur

Harshit Anand Updated: 3 July, 2019, 5:40 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur is not happy with India's poor performance against world's no.2 ODI side England. England had defeated India by 31 runs at Edgbaston on Sunday. Had India won that game, it would have boosted Pakistan's chances of qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup. Now, they will depend on how England fares against New Zealand apart from their own game against Bangladesh.

Mickey Arthur said that, "How they (India) played, again that's the issue which we can't control. Obviously, I was following the game intently and was disappointed that India did not get up because that would have opened the door for us.

"Now all we want is to get to Friday with a real opportunity and our destiny in our own hands," Arthur said. "I just hope New Zealand get it done for us," he added.

Australia and India are the only teams so far which have qualified for the World Cup semi-finals. Teams like England, New Zealand and Pakistan are still in contention to qualify for the final four of the ICC's marquee event.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli declares Rohit Sharma as the best ODI batsman in the world

Harshit Anand Updated: 3 July, 2019, 5:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rohit Sharma has been the show stealer in the World Cup for India. He is in fact, the highest run-getter in the World Cup so far with 544 runs in seven innings to his credit. Rohit has made four centuries and a fifty. He made his 26th ODI century against Bangladesh at Edgbaston.

Now, he has equaled the record for the highest number of (four) centuries in a single edition of the World Cup. Rohit now has five centuries in World Cup and is one ton away from equalling Sachin's overall record of most (six) centuries in the World Cup.

Indian skipper, Virat Kohli hailed India's vice-captain Rohit Sharma as the best ODI batsman in the world. "I have been watching it for years now. He's (Rohit) the best One-day player around and we are so delighted to see him. When he plays like that, everybody is happy to see him strike this so well," Kohli said.

Virat Kohli is the no.1 ranked ODI and Test batsman of the world. But, he has failed to convert even of his fifties into a hundred so far in the ongoing World Cup. But, he has five fifties to his credit.

Feature Cricket

India predictably makes the grade

Partab Ramchand Updated: 3 July, 2019, 5:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

When they landed in England for the World Cup the Indian team was a semifinalist in the list of the vast majority of cricket fans. Their No 2 ranking, their recent form and the balanced team personnel made an entry into the last four almost a certainty. Now that they have made sure of that berth it is time to look back at the campaign and also look forward and assess their chances of going a couple of steps further and lifting the trophy for a third time.

Both Australia and India who occupy the first two spots in the points table are likely to finish first and second what with the former set to play South Africa in their last game and India up against Sri Lanka in their final encounter. India are certainly deserving of second place for they have played cricket of a high order despite the fact that they faced injury problems that can affect the balance of any side. The No 4 slot and the middle order did present headaches but Rishabh Pant might have solved the first problem and it is to be hoped that MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya will take care of the latter in the remaining matches. However the top order of Lokesh Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will continue to remain the fulcrum with the captain and his deputy looking unstoppable.

The bowling is another reason why India’s progress has been smooth. The pace attack has come out with flying colours despite having to bowl on pitches that have generally favoured batsmen and Hardik Pandya has given admirable support as an additional seam bowler besides of course doing more than his bit with the bat. Jasprit Bumrah has easily been the pick of the lot but Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami are not far behind. The spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal has not performed up to expectations with the former being particularly off colour. Perhaps it is time to bring in Ravindra Jadeja.

Looking ahead it is just a question of two good games in the knock out but of course that goes for all the four teams making the grade. Interestingly the only match Australia has lost so far has been to India but the defending champions are peaking at the right time so they should be the team to beat irrespective of which of the three contenders - Pakistan, England and New Zealand - fill up the last two places.