Finally a match that actually took place, after washed out games at the World Cup. A match with high hopes for both Australia and Pakistan, who were keen to win this game and strengthen their respective position in points table. Match was poised well for both teams, as Australia lost the last match against a tough opponent (India) and Pakistan surprisingly beat tournament favorite England. The 17th match of World Cup 2019 was played at Tauton and Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to field first, on a pitch with a bit moisture and grass to help bowlers early on only to be a batting heaven later on in the innings.
Both teams choose to ride high on seam rather that spin, with Zampa and Shadab both being replaced with Kane Richardson and Shaheen Afridi for Australia and Pakistan respectively.
The match started with Mohammad Amir bowling to Aaron Finch, with swings and misses by the latter. Things picked up for both batsmen when they scored a few boundaries off middle of bat against the other bowlers. Warner played more aggressively of the two initially.
However, Finch picked up pace hitting 3 consecutive boundaries in 17th over off of Hafeez, bringing a century partnership for Australia. Just when batsmen were getting used to the pace and bounce of the pitch at a run-rate of 6.5 rpo, Amir who was bowling tight overs picked up Finch at 82 runs of 84 balls.
On the other hand, Warner converted his solid start into a fabulous 107 runs. After a few slow starts in the tournament already, it was good to see Warner again scoring some handsome runs for Australia. What looked like a 330+ score initially, did not reach its mark, with Australian batsmen failing to take advantage of the start provided by the openers.
Except for Maxwell who hit 2 fours and a six to increase the run-rate, others fell short. 7 wickets fell for 65 runs to be all out for 307 in 49 overs. Mohammad Amir bowled hard and fast to pick up 5 wickets giving away just 30 runs in 10 overs. Shaheen Afridi also chipped in late in the innings with 2 wickets, after poor form in the recent past.
It still looked like a good score on a batting pitch and the uncertainly of the Pakistani team’s batting abilities made sure that the spectators were in for some entertainment.
Cummins commenced the Australian run defence with a no-ball, but still managed to keep Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq on leash. On other hand Starc bowled a maiden to ul-Haq. U-Haq along with Babar Azam tried to build a partnership, with the latter scoring more than run a ball. However, fast bowler Coulter-Nile got him out in 11th over, while trying to hit a four off backward square off bouncer only to be caught by Richardson. Hafeez and Sarfaraz gave Pakistan a fighting chance by scoring 40+ scores along with opener Imam-ul-Haq’s half century.
That wasn’t just enough, when regular wickets are being lost and a total of 300+ is being chased down. Some late charges by Hasan Ali and Wahab Raiz boosted their respective confidences, which was the only positive for the Pakistani team.
Richardson who replaced Zampa picked up 2 wickets to cement his place in the team when pitches are fast. Cummins and Starc, who are regular opener in the bowling department broke the back-bone of the Pakistani batting lineup to reduce Pakistan to 266 all out in 45.4 overs.
With 10 teams fighting for top four finishes, winning with big margins or loosing while playing full quota of overs will play a big hand at the end stage of round robin stages, as net run rate will make or break a team’s dream of winning the coveted trophy.
With that being said, the game between India and New Zealand was abandoned due to rains yet again and it handed the other teams an advantage in the race to hunt down the Kiwis, who are right now at the top of the points table. Australia is currently placed in second spot, while India is in a close third.
Hosts England play the West Indies next in a key fixture that will surely have an impact at the top of the standings.