Monday, 8 July 2019

Semi

The round robin stage came to a conclusion with West Indies managing to beat Afghanistan to end a really disappointing tournament.  Next Pakistan comprehensively beat Bangladesh in a game that was ultimately meaningless.  Pakistan's win meant they equaled New Zealand's points tally and actually recorded a win over the Kiwis but their run rate was miles behind and only a miraculous win would have over turned this.

The final day of the regular tournament still saw plenty to play for.  First up Sri Lanka set a decent target of 264/7 thanks to a century from Mathews but India easily overhauled this with six overs and seven wickets to spare.  The last match was a cracker; South Africa actually woke up and played the kind of cricket we know they are capable of, posting a target of 325 and as I listened to TMS they took three Aussie wickets quickly.  Somehow Warner and Carey managed to get Australia close but ultimately the Saffers had too much and won by 10 runs.  These results meant that India replaced Australia at the top of the table and will face New Zealand in the first semi final at Old Trafford.  The other semi will be the small matter of England vs Australia at Edgbaston...  Maybe South Africa have their revenge for their defeat in the '99 semi final?  Finishing second means Australia have a far more difficult match ahead, we hope.

I like the round robin format but until the last week it hadn't resulted in the meaningful matches the ICC would have hoped for.  As it turned out the top four teams have remained in situ for virtually the whole five weeks.  This was not the case in 1992 when New Zealand and England sat at the top throughout but the third and fourth places changed regularly.  In the penultimate week South Africa climbed into the semi final spots and in the last Pakistan peaked at the right time to secure their place on the last day of the round robin.  In doing so they knocked out the hosts and favourites, Australia.  For a while it looked like Pakistan may repeat this feat once more but now, dare I say that this time, if any team looks like peaking at the right time, it's England?

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