Here we go! The moment has arrived. World cup favorites took on World cup favorites for the last 2 decades (except this edition of course) England team managed to assemble a team that will finally win them the elusive world cup title. It is a bit like assembling a Japanese car in America. Parts from different part of the world. No rain threat. Bright sunny day. SA won the toss and elected to lose. Faf’s thought process was probably influenced by the knowledge of how effortlessly England have been chasing in recent times. They forgot to take it into account that this is a world cup where runs on the board is always a safer option.
Anyway, World cup kicked off in style except of course for Bairstow and the team that is going to face Bairstow in the next match. Didn’t deter Jason Roy and their resident consolidator Joe Root. They steadied the ship until Phelu got rid of Jason Roy with a short one and three balls later Rabada threw one wide which Root managed to slap it straight to point. For some teams, this is a major collapse. Not so much for England. Morgan and Stokes took the onus and raise another century partnership. With 14 overs left Morgan holed out. Butler was in. Expected carnage didn’t happen. Butler left after a brief partnership with Stokes. Soon Amla’s counterpart left the crease. It was left to the tail to take them to a decent total. Their thoughts of getting to 500 vanished thick and fast. They huffed and puffed their way to 311 on the back of Stokes’s 97. Rabada didn’t exactly provide the kind of penetration at the death. Taken for plenty. At one point they looked like getting to 400, then 350, then 325.. then 290 and ended up reaching 311. So both teams looked happy halfway stage. Bowlers did their bit in the death in the absence of Steyn
Response by South Africa didn’t exactly pan out well in a scary way. Amla took a blow to his helmet and ended up leaving the ground failing the concussion Test. Markram who expressed his surprise at his selection for the world cup, batted briefly and got out to Archer and showed us why he was surprised at his own selection. The onus was on the captain to resurrect the innings along with De Kock. Archer drew the second blood for his newly adopted country. Technically third blood. Faf couldn’t keep the ball down while pulling to deep square leg. The writing was pretty much on the wall for them. But defiant Van der Dussen and De Kock resurrected the innings with a counterattacking partnership. Right about the time when SA looked like they were going to pull off a miracle, they decided self-destruction is the way to go. Lost 3 quick wickets for very few runs. First De Kock couldn’t capitalize on a rubbish ball from Plunkett and managed to hole out in deep. Pretorious showed his inexperience by calling for a non-existent 2nd run and got run out. Then it was Duminy’s turn to have a brain fade. A low percentage of lofted shot to long off. That didn’t stop there. Van der dussen thought it was a great idea to take on the best bowler for England on that day. Another batsman holed out. He was followed by Phelu. Although wicket was taken by Rashid, full credit should go to Stokes who plucked the ball out of thin air in Ninja style. Implosion continued and their misery ended before 40 overs.
With the inclusion of Archer England looks more potent than before. Two of their top batsmen failed in this match. 4 of them got the fifties. I expect them to come out guns blazing in the next match. Looking forward to England’s next encounter.