After starting its World Cup campaign on a losing note, defending champion England has bounced back in style and given its fans hope of a repeat performance.
The thrashing at the hands of New Zealand in the opener in Ahmedabad at the 132,000-seat Narendra Modi Stadium before a small crowd rattled the English. But on Tuesday, the scenery and playing in one of the world’s most scenic grounds in Dharamsala saw England on top of the world.
Perched 1,500 metres above sea level with the Himalayan mountains providing a breathtaking backdrop, England rolled over Bangladesh by 137 runs thanks to a tremendous knock by Dawid Malan, who tore the Bangladesh attack to pieces with 140 (five sixes and 16 boundaries).
He received solid support from his opening partner Jonny Bairstow (52) and Joe Root (82) as England finished on 364 for nine.
It was then the turn of Reece Topley and the lightning pace of Mark Wood to subdue the opponents for 227. Topley finished with four for 43 and Bangladesh’s top scorer was wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim with a fluent 52.
England now finds itself with a positive run rate despite that heavy loss to New Zealand and it could prove crucial later in the tournament. England will be hoping for a return to Dharamsala, the city that is home to the Dalai Lama, for more fixtures.
The majority of people travelling to this city are non-cricket fans who are seeking to climb a mountain and England has just done that by conquering this peak in style.
PAKISTAN OVERCOMES THE ODDS
Pakistan pulled off its second straight victory, this time over a tough Sri Lanka squad that suffered its second straight defeat after that mauling by South Africa in the opener.
Pakistan was set a whopping 345 for victory — the highest run chase ever in a World Cup — and did it with the loss of four wickets and 10 balls to spare.
The highlight of Pakistan’s innings was Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 131 (eight fours and three sixes) and opener Abdullah Shaffique’s 113. Sri Lanka also had two centurions, Kusal Mendis (122) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (108), in a losing cause.
Playing in Hyderabad, Pakistan has received a warm welcome despite the tense political relations with India that has seen the two countries go to war on three occasions since independence in 1947. The two countries will meet in Ahmedabad on Saturday and this time a full house is expected, but you never know since the Indian authorities — with all the experience of staging the Indian Premier League — have made a gigantic mess of releasing tickets.
The turn out for the England-New Zealand game was described by commentators as “embarrassing” and “pathetic.” Some are simply fed up and decided to watch it on TV.
While there has been exciting cricket played, it is South Africa that has stirred the imagination of fans with their bats.
By beating former World Cup champion Sri Lanka by a whopping 102 runs, the Proteas made a gigantic effort to get rid of that dreaded monkey off their backs and the ridicule it suffered along the way as “choke artists.”
If the Proteas continue in the same vein, skipper Temba Bavuma could be parading that elusive trophy in Cape Town.
South Africa racked up 428 for five, the highest score ever at a World Cup and, for the first time in a World Cup, there were three centurions.
Aiden Markram smashed his way into the record book with a 49-ball century, the fastest in a World Cup, and there was more brutal batting from Quinton de Kock, who struck 100, and Rassie van der Dussen’s 108.
Markram was named man of the match for his 106 off 54 balls and erasing the fastest-century record held by Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien, who a 50-ball century against England in 2011.
Sri Lanka was all out for 326 in 44.5 overs with Kusal Mendis (76), Charith Asalanka (79) and Dasun Shanaka (68) leading the way.
AROUND THE OVALS
Meanwhile, New Zealand also upped its record to 2-0 after thumping the Netherlands by 99 runs. Mitchell Santner became the first Kiwi to take a five-wicket haul and also hammered a quickfire 36 off 17 balls.
The Dutch managed 223 after New Zealand piled on 322 for seven with Tom Latham (53) and Rachin Ravindra, who made an unbeaten century against England, hitting 51.
In a battle of heavyweights, India secured a six-wicket win over Australia in steamy Chennai despite losing three of its top-order batsmen for two runs before KL Rahul and Virat Kohli came to the rescue.
Chasing a below-par 199, Kohli made 85 off 116 balls and Rahul slammed an unbeaten 99 as India reached 201 for four with 52 balls to spare in front of a passionate crowd.
While the Aussie pacers had India on the ropes early, it was India’s spinners who did the damage with Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav sharing five wickets to wreck the Aussies.
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