- 2011 ICC World Cup — Thrills and spills in week 2
By Dinouk Colombage
The second week of the 2011 Cricket World Cup began in a fashion few ever imagined, but what many had been hoping for. A tie between two of the top nations, an upset by the minnows and a close encounter once again involving a minnow nation completed a week of absorbing cricket.
On Sunday, February 27, England took on host nation India at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. Winning the toss and electing to bat first, India set the pace early on as Sehwag sauntered to an aggressive 35. Tim Bresnan removed Sehwag with the score on 46 in the 5th over; this brought Gautam Gambhir to the crease where he and Sachin Tendulkar put on a 134 run partnership. Despite the loss of Gambhir, Tendulkar continued on his way to post his 47th one day hundred and his 5th in a World Cup. Contributions from Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan saw India reach a formidable total of 338 all out in the 50th over.
The total would have been much higher had Tim Bresnan not shown the English bowlers how to bowl at the death. He picked up 5 wickets in his 10 overs for 48 runs, and contributed to India’s collapse. They lost their last 7 wickets for 33 runs. In reply England got their chase off to a flyer putting on 68 runs for the opening partnership. Skipper Andrew Strauss combined with Ian Bell to put on a mammoth 170 run partnership. Strauss’ dismissal in the 43rd over for 158 runs brought India right back into the game.
However, useful contributions from Michael Yardy, Bresnan and Graeme Swann saw England draw level with India in 50 overs. Ajmal Shahzad faced only two balls but hit his first ball for six leaving England with 5 runs to win off 3 balls. The tie was considered the most fitting end to the game as both teams batted beautifully but neither side failed to get on top in the field.
Canada took on Zimbabwe at Nagpur, and many had this match tagged as an opportunity for Canada to show they are capable of playing at this level. Winning the toss and electing to bat first Zimbabwe’s innings got off to the worse start possible with both openers being dismissed inside 4 overs. It was up to the ‘old war horse’ Tatenda Taibu and Craig Ervine to steady the ship and set Zimbabwe on their way to a competitive total. These two put on a partnership of 181 runs and saw Taibu fall agonisingly short of a well-deserved hundred, he was dismissed for 98.
Zimbabwe went on to post a commanding 298 in their allotted overs. The two opening bowlers for Canada began well but unfortunately they lacked the back-up bowlers to maintain the pressure. In reply Canada was bowled out for 123 in 42 overs. The Zimbabwe spinners all picked up wickets and strangled the scoring rate, showing the world that they will be a handful on these pitches.
Following the Netherlands good showing against England, much was expected from them in the match against the often disappointing West Indians. Winning the toss and electing to field first took many by surprise. It however showed that they recognised that batting was their strength and backed themselves to chase under lights. The West Indians had other ideas as they went about posting a massive 330 for 8 in their 50 overs. Chris Gayle top scored with 80, while Kieron Pollard lit up the stadium with 60 runs off 30 balls.
For the Dutch Pieter Seelar was the pick of the bowlers picking up 3 wickets for 45 runs in his ten overs. In reply the Netherlands never looked comfortable against the pace of Kemar Roach as he tore through the batting line-up dismissing them for 115 in 32 overs. He picked up 6 for 27 which included a hat-trick in 8.3 overs. Following their shaky loss to South Africa the West Indies have once again shown they have the talent to win.
Kenya took on Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo; the last time these two teams met in a World Cup was at the 2003 edition. On that occasion the Kenyans shocked Sri Lanka and the world beating them by 53 runs. This time around there was to be no repeat as Sri Lanka welcomed back Lasith Malinga. Winning the toss and electing to field first Kenya lost both their openers with the score being on 8. However, the Obuya brothers combined to put on a painstaking 94 run partnership. During the middle overs it looked as though Colins Obuya, the tormentor of Sri Lanka in 2003, was back to surprise Sri Lanka again.
However, his dismissal sparked a collapse which saw Kenya fall for 102 for 3 to 142 all out. Lasith Malinga picked up 6 for 38 in 8 overs including his second World Cup hat-trick. In reply the Sri Lankan openers along with Kumar Sangakkara chased down the total comfortably inside 19 overs. Upul Tharanga top scored with 67.
Up till this point the minnows had failed to provide any upsets and were slowly yet surely justifying the ICC’s decision to remove them from the next World Cup.
England took on Ireland at Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore. Batting first England posted their second consecutive 300+ score. An aggressive 92 from South African born Jonathan Trott and another useful 81 from Ian Bell saw England reach 327 for 8 in their 50 overs. However, once again similar to the India game England’s lower order failed to contribute as they lost 6 wickets for 49 runs. The Irish chase got off to the worst possible start as they lost their captain and opener William Porterfield off the first ball. Despite solid contributions from the middle order Ireland looked off the pace and was not threatening to overhaul England’s score.
This all changed with the entry of Kevin o’Brien. The wicket keeper shone as brightly as his dyed hair as he went after the English bowling striking at 180 runs per 100 balls. His aggression rattled the English bowlers and saw Ireland re-enter the game. He along with Alex Cusack put on a valuable 162 run partnership in 17 overs. He brought up the fastest 100 in World Cup history and by doing so took Ireland to the brink of a historic win. His dismissal in the 49th over would have had their hearts in their mouths however; John Mooney ensured Ireland crossed the line flicking the first ball of the 50th over to the mid-wicket boundary.
This victory sparked celebrations not only in Ireland but around the cricket loving world as this was the upset they had been craving for. The English looked downhearted and deflated, as for the Irish they have once again shown that they belong at the World Cup.
For many following the heroics of Ireland the previous night the match-up between South Africa and the Netherlands proved an uninteresting prospect. Sadly it lived up to its expectations. Netherlands once again won the toss, and chose to field and yet again Netherlands found themselves chasing a score in excess of 300. Centuries from Hashim Amla and A.B. de Villiers set up the Proteas as they posted a formidable 351 for 5 in their 50 overs. In reply the Netherlands once again failed with the bat as they were bundled out for a paltry 120 runs in 35 overs. If Ireland supported the case for the associate nations to remain in the World Cup, the Netherlands supported the expulsion.
Canada took on Pakistan at the R. Premadasa Stadium, and for those who were watching the Netherlands game; this appeared to be yet another one-sided contest. Winning the toss and electing to bat first Pakistan never really looked in the game. They continued to lose wickets at regular intervals with Umar Akmal being the highest scorer for 48. Pakistan was dismissed for 184 in 43 overs; suddenly it looked as though another upset was on the cards. However, the Canadian batsmen never got to terms with the swing of the pace bowlers nor the spin and guise of Afridi.
Yet again captain Shahid Afridi picked up five wickets helping his team pull off a great escape, bowling out Canada for 138. This game showed more warning signs for Pakistan rather than an improvement for Canada. Pakistan has shown yet again that they are unable to follow a good performance with another.
Zimbabwe took on New Zealand at Ahmedabad and for many, on paper this looked an even contest. However, the Zimbabwean batsmen looked out of the depth as they struggled to cope with the New Zealanders. Falling for 162 in 46 overs showed that this team had a lot to do before they re-entered the test arena. When New Zealand came out to bat many still had hope that the Zimbabwe spinners would be able to make a contest of this game. Unfortunately for them, openers Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill ensured that there would not be any upsets as they polished off the runs in 34 overs.
The other game of the day was the keenly awaited contest between Bangladesh and the West Indians. Both sides were coming off encouraging wins and Bangladesh, playing in front of their home crowd, was keen on putting a stop to the Caribbean party. Winning the toss and electing to bat was the first right move made by Shakib al-Hasan. This turned out to be the only right move as Bangladesh set a record for the 4th lowest total in World Cup history and their lowest score in cricket. Kemar Roach started from where he left off in the last game picking up 3 wickets, while skipper Darren Sammy picked up 3 wickets as well. Spinner Suilemann Benn picked up 4 wickets. The West Indians had little trouble chasing down this total scoring the runs in 12 overs for the loss of one wicket. Yet again they are sending a message that this team is not to be underestimated.