So the countdown to the start of Cricket World Cup 2011 is on its last stretch... less than a week to go now. The warm up matches have begun, and on the first day, we had 5 of them. Here are a few random thoughts on those matches:
WI 253 - 8 in 50 overs, Ken 192 all out in 45.3 overs - WI win by 61 runs
Ramnaresh Sarwan scored a 125-ball 123 to guide West Indies to a 250+ score, aided by Dwayne Bravo's 56-ball 54 towards the end of their innings. While West Indies will be delighted with Sarwan and Bravo, they need to be wary of the fact that their top order misfired once again. 65 for 4 in the 20th over against Kenya is not a good score... and it was surprising to see that they did not send Kieron Pollard for a hit. He could have done with some practice ahead of the main tournament. But the biggest surprise was that Chris Gayle did not figure in the 12-man team that took part in the warm-up game.
As for Kenya, the veterans Thomas Odoyo and Steve Tikolo were good with the ball. While batting, Collins Obuya made a composed half-century and had he gotten a little more support after his 70-run second wicket stand with Seren Waters, Kenya could have made a serious push towards the target. Though Roach and Russell combined well with the ball, they could not get breakthroughs with the new ball. Kenya has shown promise on the land where they first rose to prominence way back in 1996!
SL 351 - 5 in 50 overs, Neth 195 all out in 47.3 overs - SL win by 156 runs
It was a typical Sri Lankan performance against a minnow, especially on the home ground. The Dutch were soundly thrashed, first by the Sri Lankan batting unit where everyone got starts and then by the bowling performances of Fernando, Perera and Herath. Sri Lanka, however, should be concerned by the fact that none of their batsmen could score a big hundred in batting friendly home conditions, with a run-a-ball 78 from TM Dilshan being their highest score.
Though Tom De Grooth and Bas Zuiderent showed a bit of a fight, Netherlands were never expected to, nor did they, get anywhere close to the target. The only thing that they did well was playing Ajantha Mendis, who had figures of 1 for 40 in 8 overs, that 1 wicket being the 9th to fall... not the figures you'd normally associate with a mystery bowler against a minnow on his home conditions.
Can 112 all out in 37.3 overs, Ban 113 - 1 in 19.2 overs - Ban win by 9 wickets
Bangladesh put in a thoroughly efficient performance to dismantle Canada completely... so efficient it was that they may now be regretting the fact that their batters did not really get a good hit in match conditions before the World Cup. Though Razzaq went wicketless, the other spinners led by skipper Shakib Al Hasan grabbed 6 wickets in a good bowling performance. Except for the skipper Ashish Bagai, no Canadian could muster a solid performance.
While chasing, Tamim Iqbal got the hosts to a flyer... and the match was over within a few blinks. 7 fours and 3 sixes in a 50-ball 69 meant that other than the openers, no one else got any decent batting practice. This was a new Bangladesh side... way different from the one that lost to Canada by 60 runs in the group stages of 2003 World Cup! They have come a long way!
NZ 311 - 6 in 50 overs, Ire 279 all out in 48.2 overs - NZ win by 32 runs
New Zealand must have had a comfortable win in the end, but all credit must go to Ireland for the fight that they put in into their chase. The Kiwis relied on a 134-ball 130 from Martin Guptill and then cameos from Ryder, Taylor, Franklin and Styris to set up a good total... the perfect example of how a batting unit should function! If the Kiwis can manage it against tougher oppositions, they could be well on their way to another good World Cup performance.
While they didn't find much cheer while bowling, the Irish chase was well built. A brilliant and fast opening stand, followed by more good top-order partnerships kept them in the hunt for quite a while. Unfortunately for them, their middle order and lower middle order could not keep up with the challende and they folded in the 49th over. While Porterfield, Stirling, Joyce, Niall O'Brien and Johnston did well with the bat, the bowling performer of the day was the wily Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori... 4 for 42 in 10 overs, and good support from Kyle Mills. The Kiwis should be overall happy with this performance, especially given the run of performances they have had of late!
Zim 152 all out in 41.5 overs, SA 153 - 2 in 23.3 overs - SA win by 8 wickets
Though Zimbabwe was dismissed for 153 only, it was as unlike a South African bowling performance as you are ever likely to see. I say this because 6 of the wickets were picked by spinners, though Morne Morkel was extremely brilliant and threatening in his 6 overs, 3 for 16. Imran Tahir got a game and got 3 wickets... which makes it interesting to see whether he'll make the cut for the first XI above Johan Botha and Robin Peterson.
Taylor's 40 was the only bright spot for Zimbabwe during the whole day... where they were later carted around by Amla, Smith and Kallis. That Kallis hit 3 sixes during his unbeaten 39-ball 49 should tell you something about his injury status! However, like Bangladesh, even South African batsmen (except these 3) missed a golden chance to get some batting practice under their belt!
England are better than South Africa
9 hours ago