World Cup Warm-Ups Day 4: Five Things We Learned

What did we learn from the penultimate day of World Cup Warm Ups?

We had a full day of Warm-Ups without the slightest hint of rain! Yay! We might not get that too often in the World Cup proper so it’s worth celebrating. Sadly for West Indies and especially Bangladesh fans, it didn’t happen when they were playing.

Match 1: England vs Afghanistan

If you thought that because Afghanistan had beaten Pakistan then they could also beat, or at least challenge, England, you’d be very wrong. Afghanistan fought it out, sure, but they were still bowled out inside 40 overs and only managed 160 runs. You could say the low total was due to new recruit Jofra Archer’s 3 wickets, but, then again, Joe Root, who almost never bowls, took 3 wickets as well. It was a bit of a farce as they simply never got going, and England wrapped it up with 9 wickets to spare and took just 17.3 overs to do it. So much for being professional, Afghanistan didn’t even bat out their 50 overs, or even close. 38.4 overs is just not good enough. Not that they were ever going to win even if they did bat out their 50 overs, but it would have been more professional.

Match 2: Australia vs Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka didn’t look much better against Australia than Afghanistan did against England, but at least they batted out their 50 overs, albeit only just. Australia could have probably bowled them out had they been trying their hardest, but they were busy giving Stoinis 3 overs and Maxwell 6, and even let Steve Smith bowl 2 overs, all while giving both spin bowlers a go. Smith got rid of former captain Angelo Mathews, which was fun. It was really just having a bit of fun as Sri Lanka stumbled to 8 for 239, and really shouldn’t have gotten anywhere near that. In the batting front, there was no Smith nor Warner, as they had already proven themselves in the first warm-up match, and instead it was all about Usman Khawaja, whose 89 off 105 was impressive enough, at least for fitness. Oh and Maxwell and Stoinis each had a battle in the batting stakes too, with Maxwell probably winning with 36 off 36 compared to Stoinis, who scored 32 off 30. I’d have them both in my XI, but some are saying that they are competing for one spot. Because of the experimentation, Australia had Carey at 6 and Cummins at 7, and took 44.5 overs to get over the line, and lost 5 wickets too, but it really wasn’t close.

Five Things We Learned:

(1) Just because there’s only 10 teams doesn’t mean close games

It’s fairly obvious that, with semi-finals for the top 4 only, and 6 teams being knocked out, we are pretty soon going to have the teams split in half, with the top half vying for a spot in the semi-finals and the bottom half just there to make up the numbers. Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are most definitely in the bottom half, and my prediction is that Bangladesh are too, plus probably Pakistan and West Indies. As for the top half, both England and Australia are right up there and should both make the semi-finals at least.

(2) England are all that

In spite of a first-up loss to Australia, England showed here that they are pretty incredible. Afghanistan did beat Pakistan and should have given themselves a chance, but England snuffed that out, and that was in spite of experimenting. I mean, Joe Root, when he bowls, usually only gets an over or two, yet here he was as a main bowler, while Jofra Archer was opening, with Chris Woakes. This wasn’t even a challenge for them, and they only lost to Australia because they had 2 injuries and weren’t playing their main guys. They still aren’t really, it’s just that they played extra batsmen this game instead of bowlers, not that they needed them. They bowled a side out for 160 without playing their best bowlers and won by 9 wickets. Eoin Morgan didn’t even get a hit.

(3) Afghanistan aren’t as good as we thought

If you thought that Afghanistan would be seriously competing for a semi-final position, this match should have woken you up. They were made to look like a minnow, or perhaps at least at a lower level to England. They were intimidated and they crumbled under the pressure. They’ll need to show a lot more fight if they are to win any matches at all in the World Cup proper. I had picked them to win 3, but they won’t win any if they play like this all the time.

(4) Sri Lanka are pretty awful

Whatever you might say in their support, this was an appalling effort. Sure, so they batted out their 50 overs, but mostly because Australia were experimenting with their bowling, using 8 bowlers, and that was in spite of giving several a rest. To lose a wicket to Steve Smith, out of just 2 overs, is pretty appalling. They are favourites to finish last in this World Cup, and this form showcased why. I had picked them to win 1 match, but that was more by heart than form. By form they shouldn’t win any.

(5) Australia are a lot better than anyone thought

They beat World Cup favourites England in the first warm-up match and now had a much easier time against Sri Lanka. They are 2 and 0, not that the results will count, and that’s not counting their win against West Indies in the unofficial warm-up. Add to that the 3 wins against India and the 5 against Pakistan and they are now on an 11 match winning streak. That might remind you of the 6 match winning streak to win the 1999 World Cup, and the unbeaten runs in 2003 and 2007. Whoever wins this World Cup needs to play 11 matches, though they don’t necessarily need to win all 11, but definitely they need to win the last 2. Australia will enter the World Cup proper on an 11 match winning streak. They just need to double it and they are home. World Cup number 6 perhaps?

Tomorrow marks the last day of the Warm-Ups with Bangladesh facing India while West Indies face New Zealand. It will mark the first warm-up for both Bangladesh and West Indies after their first attempt was washed out.

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