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World Cup Match 41: Zimbabwe crush Kenya by 161 runs to finish on a high

zimbabwe_celebrateZimbabwe brought the curtain down on their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign in style, pulverizing fellow Africans Kenya by 161 runs to pick up their second win of the tournament. The match had only academic relevance with the quarter-finalists of Group A already determined, and only meant that Zimbabwe finished in 5th place while Kenya were last with no points to show for their World Cup adventure.

Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to bat first on a belter of a track at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. They made the most of the opportunity, powering their way to 308/6 in their 50 overs courtesy of half-centuries from middle order batsmen Tatenda Taibu (53), Vusi Sibanda (61) and Craig Ervine (66), the latter pair getting their runs at quicker than a run a ball. Zimbabwe started slowly, but wickets in hand and players capable of clearing the ground meant that they were able to effectively double their score in the last 20 overs. Kenya in their reply only managed 147, bowled out in the 36th over with the Zimbabwean bowlers sharing the wickets between them.


Tsotsobe early burst helps South Africa rout Bangladesh to finish top of Group B

lonwabo_tsotsobeIt was business as usual for South Africa as they cruised to a 206-run victory over Bangladesh in their final Group B match at the ICC Cricket World Cup at Mirpur on Saturday. This win guarantees them top spot on the log and also puts India and England through to the quarter-final stage. Technically Bangladesh can still qualify ahead of the West Indies but for that to happen the Caribbean Islanders would have to lose by an enormous margin in their final Group match against India on Sunday. At the moment the West Indies have a positive run rate of 1.63 and Bangladesh a negative one of 1.36.

What is at stake is the final finishing order in Group B. If the West Indies beat India, they will finish second with India and England fighting out the bottom two places on net run rate. If India win, they will finish second and England third.


World Cup Match 40: Pakistan end Australia's unbeaten run to finish top of Group A

umar_gulThe enigma that is the Pakistan cricket team showed just why they should be considered as one of the favourites for the World Cup crown as the 1992 World Champions recorded their fifth win of the tournament to claim top spot in Group A and with it end Australia's incredible World Cup record at 34-games unbeaten. The last time Australia lost a World Cup game, it was to Pakistan in the 1999 edition of the competition, and while losing is never a happy sign, Australia would look towards the good omens that they went on to clinch the World title that year bouncing back very quickly from that defeat.

On Saturday night in Colombo, Pakistan produced an awe-inspiring performance with the ball, tactically outsmarting the Australian batsmen to knock them over for just 176 runs well inside 50 overs. While the runs were paltry, it was consistent bowling and keeping a tight leash on the runs which created pressure on the batting side, and forced the wickets to come Pakistan's way. The chase was typically tense with Pakistan threatening to throw away all their hard work following a couple of short bursts by Brett Lee, who was unlucky to be on the losing side despite picking up 4 wickets. The two youngsters in the Pakistan team Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal played contrasting innings to help guide their side to a famous win and crucially top spot in the Group, earning them a quarter-final meeting against either England or the West Indies. Australia meanwhile finish third in their group, tied on points with Sri Lanka, but behind on net run rate. They would face either India or the West Indies in their quarter-final, a prize that perhaps neither side would wish to claim when they face off in tomorrow's marquee clash.


World Cup Match 39: South Africa oust abject Bangladesh with 206-run win

kallis_1South Africa produced a clinical performance at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on Saturday, completing a 206-run rout of Bangladesh, as the co-hosts were unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament, well for all practical purposes anyway. Hardy partnerships between the openers laid the platform for Jacques Kallis and Francois du Plessis, before the multi-faceted Robin Peterson slogged a few with the bat to take South Africa to 284 and returned on the other side of lunch to skittle the Banglas out for an abject 78. More than it will have pleased South Africa, this victory will mean more to England and India, who know that they now progress unhindered to the quarter-finals stage. The West Indies are also through unless they commit massive harakiri in their final game against India on Sunday, the net run rate differential is a 3-point swing in favour of the West Indies, and they will need to get slaughtered and then some to throw this advantage away.

The overcast conditions at the Sher-e-Bangla did not feature in Graeme Smith's mind; when he called right at the toss, he elected to bat first, his bowling attack augmented with Imran Tahir, Wayne Parnell and Lonwabo Tsotsobe for the mighty Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, with AB de Villiers having been rested. Bangladesh went into this must-win match with the all-rounder Naeem Islam.


World Cup Match 38: Sangakkara and Muralitharan blow New Zealand away

kumar_sangakkara1A determined 111 from Skipper Kumar Sangakkara and an equally laudable performance from his bowlers gave Sri Lanka an emphatic 112 run victory over New Zealand ensuring second place for them in Group A, irrespective of the result of Australia vs. Pakistan. Sangakkara's century effort, aided by some solid support from the dependable Mahela Jayawardene, took the Lankans to 265/9, a score which was easily defended by the bowlers from the emerald island thanks to Muttiah Muralitharan's 4/25.

Sangakkara had earlier won the toss and elected to bat in the hot Mumbai conditions. Both teams made one change apiece, with Sri Lanka drafting in a second spinner in the form of Ajantha Mendis while the Kiwis brought Hamish Bennett back for the injured Kyle Mills. Daniel Vettori continued to sit out with injury and Ross Taylor led the team in Vettori's absence.


World Cup Match 37: Ten Doeschate trumped by Stirling performance as Netherlands end winless

paul_stirlingRyan ten Doeschate struck his second century of the World Cup, but once again ended on the losing side as Ireland chased down the Netherlands' total of 306 with 6 wickets and 14 balls to spare courtesy of Paul Stirling's 72 ball ton. In a rare Group B contest where nothing other than pride was at stake, Netherlands put up a good effort posting in excess of 300 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata only to be run over by a 177-run stand for the first wicket between Stirling and Irish skipper William Porterfield in only 27 overs. The Irish were always in the driver's seat from then on and though they required some lusty hitting towards the latter stage, they were always well ahead of the asking rate and coasted home in the end. The result means that the Dutch ended the tournament with no points from their 6 games, an unfortunate outcome as they were clearly not the worst side in the tournament. The Irish meanwhile walk away in 6th place in Group B with 4 points from their 6 games and would still be rueing dropping their World Cup opener against Bangladesh from a winning position. However, their shock win over England means that their visit to the sub-continent was not in vain and they will always be welcome in future editions of the 50-over extravaganza.


Rookie Jade Dernbach called up to England World Cup squad

ECB has called up England Lions and Surrey pace bowler Jade Dernbach to the England World Cup squad following approval from the ICC Event Technical Committee. Dernbach, who is currently in the West Indies with the England Lions, will replace Ajmal Shahzad who has sustained a hamstring injury.

24 year old Dernbach began the winter on the England Performance Programme in Australia before going on to make his England Lions debut last month playing in the WICB regional four-day competition and is currently the side's leading wicket taker. The Surrey player has spent the previous two winters on the ECB Fast Bowling Programme in Florida and Chennai and is a graduate of the Surrey Academy.


South Africa keen to finish top of the Group when they take on Bangladesh

South Africa should give an indication of how they are going to line up for the crucial knock-out phase when they play Bangladesh in their final Group B match at the ICC Cricket World Cup at Mirpur on Saturday. 

The Proteas may have qualified for the quarter-finals already but they need to approach this match as a Round of 16 fixture to prepare themselves for the subsequent quarter-final and hopefully the semi-final and final as well. It is part of a four-match streak that requires a continuity of momentum and confidence.


World Cup Match 36: Thrilling 18-run win over Windies resuscitates England

luke_wrightIn a dramatic clash, which has become the norm this tourney whenever the Barmy Army is involved, England prevailed over West Indies on a skiddy Chennai wicket, and defended their total of 243 by 18 runs to stay alive in the World Cup. James Tredwell and Graeme Swann called upon the last ounce of England's spirit and successfully resisted the onslaught launched by Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell in a pendulous encounter.

Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat on what seemed a flat, grassless wicket with good bounce. As England rung changes in their playing eleven, driven by both desperation and player indisposition, Andrew Strauss gave a strident pep talk to pump his team up for this life-threatening clash. He and Matt Prior began watchfully, as Roach's first over saw Strauss shoulder more arms than a Hindu Goddess. All the care was all to the good; as soon as he got the measure of the wicket, he clipped full balls and pulled shorter ones to the boundary. Sulieman Benn, from the other end however, was not as inhibitive as his usual wont. Prior (21) put him away for a few speeding boundaries, but lack of footwork and misjudgement of length let Andre Russell clatter one into his stumps to end a 48-run opening stand. This brought forth Jonathan Trott, who promptly flicked, pulled and drove to the boundary with a vengeance towards the disparaging remarks made about his scoring pace, and at the end of the 10th over, England had raced away to 60/1.


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