Pat Cummins says “in a perfect world” leading Australia in Test cricket would not be the first taste of captaincy for the likes of he and Marnus Labuschagne.
The 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup has been a tournament full of drama, entertainment, and skill.
The tournament really started to light up around the third week when in four days, there were four thrilling games.
Two came in one day. One game was an upset and momentarily opened the World Cup up. The other game came a week later and nearly ended the hopes of the former champions.
Here are the five best games of the tournament so far in chronological order.
New Zealand versus West Indies at Old Trafford, Manchester, match 29
Easily the best game of the tournament. It had emotion, drama, entertainment, and brilliant execution of cricket skills.
Sheldon Cottrell picked up the New Zealand openers for golden ducks in the first over. New Zealand’s captain, Kane Williamson, scored his second consecutive hundred for the tournament.
Williamson orchestrated a brilliant partnership with Ross Taylor. Cameos from the lower order helped New Zealand to 291/8 off their 50 overs.
The West Indies’ innings was explosive and entertaining. Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer played brilliantly for their half-centuries. The Kiwis dropped Gayle four times. The pair looked threatening for the Kiwis.
Luckily for the Kiwis, star quick, Lockie Ferguson, picked up two wickets in one over. The West Indies lost 5 wickets for 22 runs off four overs. The West Indies were in trouble before Braithwaite formed vital partnerships with the tail.
Braithwaite smacked the ball to all parts. He took a liking to Matt Henry, who he spanked for 25 runs in the 48th over. Jimmy Neesham held his nerve in the next over. Braithwaite missed the boundary rope by just a few metres.
Trent Boult took a brilliant catch and New Zealand won an all-time World Cup classic by just five runs. The Kiwis also won by a few metres. Carlos Brathwaite scored a brilliant 101 off 83 balls. Trent Boult picked up 4 wickets for the Blackcaps. Ian Bishop provided some memorable bits of commentary in the dying stages of the game.
Sheldon Cottrell was brilliant for the West Indies.
Pakistan versus Afghanistan at Headingley Carnegie, Leeds, match No.36
This game between was a tense affair. The game had controversial moments including the umpiring and some unruly crowd behaviour from both sets of fan-bases.
There were fights and flares, and security escorted a few from the premises. However, the game itself was brilliant and tense.
Afghanistan was looking to pull off a massive World Cup upset. The Afghanis reached a modest total of 227/9. Former captain, Asghar Afghan, and Najibullah Zadran top scored with 42 each for the Afghanis.
Shaheen Afridi picked up four wickets for 47 for Pakistan. Pakistan was struggling at 156/6. Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan were at the crease.
The required rate kept increasing, and both batsmen struggled to pick the Afghani spinners, even the part-time tweakers. The game-changing moment came went Afghanistan captain, Gulbadin Naib bowled himself in the 46th over and went for 18 runs.
There were five overs left and all the spinners had overs remaining in their respective spells. Gulbadin’s tactical blunder cost his side the game. The momentum shifted from there and Pakistan ended up winning a tense game by 3 wickets with two balls to spare.
Sri Lanka versus England at Headingley Carnegie, Leeds, match 27
This game was important in the race for the playoffs. Sri Lanka defeated hosts, England, at Headingley chasing a modest total 233 in their second innings. Sri Lanka got to 232/9 thanks to Angelo Mathews knock of 85 not out.
There were handy contributions from talented batsmen Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis. Mark Wood picked up 3/40 for the hosts. England’s chase did not get off to a good start with Lasith Malinga picking up both England openers within 7 overs. Slinger Malinga bowled a brilliant spell of 4/43 off his 10 overs.
Sri Lanka bowled England out for 212 with three overs to spare. A review for a caught behind of Joe Root changed the course of the game for Sri Lanka. From that moment on, England lost wickets at regular intervals. Ben Stokes fought valiantly but eventually ran out of partners. He remained not out and England lost by 20 runs.
India versus Afghanistan at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground, Southampton, match 28
Heavyweights and one of the tournament favourites, India took on a struggling Afghanistan team. The Afghanis restricted India to a modest total of 224/8 off 50 overs. Virat Kohli and Kedar
Jadhav scored half centuries for India. India lost their last 6 wickets for just 101 runs off 24 overs. The Afghani spinners, Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah, choked India of vital runs in those 24 overs.
Afghanistan began to believe they could pull of an upset. Afghanistan tried to keep wickets in hand. They were in the game at 2/106 off 28.4 overs before Jasprit Bumrah removed Rahmat Shah for 36.
Mohammad Nabi notched a brilliant 52 off 55 balls. It looked like Afghanistan would pull it off. In the last over, they needed 15 runs to win. Nabi struck Mohammed Shami for 4. The Afghanis needed 11 runs.
However, Shami had other ideas and picked up Mohammad Nabi, Aftab Alam and Mujeeb Ur-Rahman in a sensational hat-trick. Shami finished the Afghani innings with that hat-trick. Afghanistan missed the target of 225 by 11 runs and India survived a huge scare.
New Zealand versus South Africa at Edgbaston, Birmingham, match No.25
This fixture was another classic between the two nations. South Africa needed to win this fixture to stay in the tournament.
The South Africans posted a competitive total of 241/6 on a difficult pitch, largely thanks to half-centuries from Hashim Amla.
New Zealand’s bowled three brilliant deliveries in the South African innings. This included Lockie Ferguson’s yorker to remove Faf du Plessis and Mitchell Santner’s beautiful delivery to get rid of Hashim Amla.
New Zealand was under pressure at 82/4. A 50-run partnership between all-rounder James Neesham and captain, Kane Williamson helped resurrect the New Zealand innings. Then Colin de Grandhomme played his most vital knock in his ODI career to date.
De Grandhomme spanked 60 off 47 balls giving his Williamson able support. Kane Williamson played a gem of an innings. He hit a six and a four off the last over giving New Zealand a tense 4-wicket victory.
The Kiwis did it with three balls to spare. The South African dropped six catches and missed one run out. The South Africans also failed to review an edge that would have seen the end of Kane Williamson. South Africa’s tournament was over.
New Zealand knocked South Africa out of a World Cup for the third time in a row.