The match between Bangladesh and West Indies at Taunton marked the half way point of the League stage of the WC.
That match saw the first real planned 300+chase as Shakib Al Hasan enhanced his reputation as the best all-round cricketer in the world.
For most parts, this World Cup has been dominated by the rain, the top order batsmen and the fast bowlers – with the left armers impressing especially.
With the half way point just crossed, I think it will be a good time for us to look at the outstanding performers of the WC so far.
Rohit Sharma (Ind)
With knocks of 122*, 57 and 140, the Indian opener looks to be in his majestic best. At Southampton, against SA, he defended against a barrage of short pitched deliveries early on before taking full control and then leading his side to an easy win.
At Oval, against Australia, he supported his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan superbly to post a century stand.
Then on the big day against the arch rivals Pakistan; he was so much in command that he was disappointed, in fact disgusted with himself, after throwing it away at 140; he seemed destined for a double hundred.
Of course, his excellent form is bad news for Bangladesh fans. He smashed 137 against them at the MCG in the last WC, and then scored 123* in the SF of the Champions Trophy two years back.
Aaron Finch (Aus)
For many professional cricketers, captaincy can become a burden. For others it can act just as a catalyst for greater success.
Aaron Finch certainly falls in the second category. After finding his form scoring 93 against India at Ranchi in March, he hasn’t looked back. He has come to the WC full of confidence, and so far, he hasn’t let his team down.
An interesting aspect of the Dave Warner-Finch combination this WC, is the different roles they are playing.
Traditionally, we are accustomed to seeing Warner going after the bowling right from the go, while his partner takes a little bit of time.
But here Finch is mostly leading the attack, being especially ruthless against the spinners. His unfortunate run out was a big moment in the defeat against India.
Joe Root (Eng)
With two hundreds and two fifties, Root has been England’s Mr Consistent so far. While, he may lack the big shots of some of his teammates, his technique is immaculate and his temperament unquestionable.
Like Virat Kohli, he is a big match player; and England will need him to keep his good form for the knockout matches.
Interestingly, Root picked up two wickets with his off spin in the match against WI; some may view these as cheap wickets. But the mode of his dismissal of Jason Holder would suggest that he has done some bowling practice in the nets.
Shakib Al Hasan (Ban)
Although he has batted at No.3 in this WC, I have picked him at No.4 because he can virtually bat anywhere in the middle order – versatility is one of his many assets.
He is only reason that the Tigers are still in the hunt for a SF place. Batting at No.3, he is scoring runs with consummate ease and although he is not getting much purchase from the wicket with his left arm spins. He is still using his guile and experience to pick up vital wickets.
This World Cup may become the biggest highlight in his already glittering career.
Nicholas Pooran (WI)
Now this may seem a contentious selection. Basically, I have considered batsmen who have batted at 4 and 5 in this WC and there haven’t been too many great efforts.
Of course, Liton Das batted brilliantly after getting his chance against WI; but I can’t pick a player here on the ground of just one majestic innings.
I have previously put jinx on Tigers’ players on many occasions and I don’t want to do that again. I must admit, I am not taking Eoin Morgan’s hundred against Afghanistan too seriously, it has come against a poor bowling and fielding side in a match whose outcome was never in doubt. So, my selection goes to the 23-year-old Trinidad left hander.
He came in to this WC with one ODI and no ODI run behind him. But with scores of 34*, 40, 63 and 25, he has looked the most impressive of all the Windies batsman.
He reminds me of Alvin Kallicharan especially while driving through the offside. His runs have come at an excellent rate; the only thing missing is a real big knock. I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes in this very event.
Jos Buttler (Eng)
At Trent Bridge, Buttler scored 103 from 76 deliveries and very nearly snatched the match away from Pakistan. He then added a fifty against Bangladesh and although he hasn’t done much batting since then, there is no reason for the bowlers to feel secure. He can explode again anytime soon.
Hardik Pandya (Ind)
The Indian all-rounder has so far done his job adequately for his side. His aggressive batting played a big part in India crossing the 350-run mark against Australia. Then, he picked up two vital wickets with successive deliveries in the big match against Pakistan.
Pandya’s presence is vital for keeping the balance of the Indian team.
Jofra Archer (Eng)
In a World Cup dominated by the left arm seamers, there is place for only one right arm fast bowler in my XI, and although couple of New Zealand quickies have impressed, my vote goes to the Barbados-born England quickie. He has added a different dimension to the host’s new ball attack.
This World Cup has seen use, overuse and misuse of the short pitched bowling; England and especially Archer has so far been excellent on this count.
Mitchell Starc (Aus)
I have always found the Aussie fans’ relationship with Starc quite amusing; one moment when his yorkers and bouncers are working nicely, he is a national hero. A slight dip in form and he becomes kind of a villain.
At least Aussie fans can’t complain of his efforts in this World Cup too much. At times, he has been expensive, but he is always going for wickets.
Adam Zampa’s poor form has put extra pressure on both Starc and Pat Cummins, and both have responded well to the call.
YS Chahal (Ind)
In a World Cup where many spinners are struggling, YS Chahal is thoroughly enjoying the event. He started the WC with 4/51 against SA. Against Australia, he was expensive, but picked up two wickets. His dismissal of Maxwell effectively ended the match as a contest.
India is boldly going in their matches with two frontline wrist spinners, and so far, no side has succeeded in getting the better of the duo.
Md. Amir (Pak)
Well, he is never too far from the news. Originally controversially omitted from the side, he returned to take 3/26 against WI.
Despite being Pakistan’s only wicket-taker in the match, he still came for some criticism. In the next match against England, he was expensive but picked up two vital wickets to ensure victory.
It’s his efforts against Australia and India that have silenced his critics. His record seems even more impressive given the fact that the Pakistani fielders here seem determined to set a new low standard.
While he is unlikely to match Wasim Akram’s effort at MCG in the 1992 final, given the minimal chance the Pakistanis have of making it to the semi-finals, but at least the fans can’t complain about the efforts of their premier left arm quickie.