World Cup 2019: The Path Of The Semi-Final > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - World Cup 2019: Road to semifinals

India topped the table after just one loss and a washed-out game.

India

Best performances - vs Australia

Not just the skewed World Cup head-to-head history, India also had the scars of humiliating home-series preceding the World Cup to wipe out. And now with Steve Smith and David Warner strengthening the Aussie juggernaut on a ten-match winning streak, India successfully managed to steal the momentum early on. A nasty Pat Cummins' delivery may have cut short his World Cup, but on that day Shikhar Dhawan was unstoppable, smashing his way to a century, with a steady Rohit Sharma, the typical Virat Kohli and a promoted Hardik Pandya lifting the total to 352. Then the seamers were exceptional with their lengths, and it does tell you a story when Warner scratches around for an 84-ball 56.

Nervy performance - vs Afghanistan

It was meant to be a walkover. The contrast in confidence couldn't have been more pronounced. India were fresh from handing over a thrashing to Pakistan, while Afghanistan were fresh from being handed over one by England. But India were stretched to their absolute limit. The batting - apart from Kohli - never really got going, with the Dhoni-Jadhav stand stagnating towards the death overs, leaving Indai with 224/8. Afghanistan seemed to be cruising in their chase at one stage with Shahidi and Rahmat Shah seemingly at ease, but Bumrah changed everything, getting both of them in the same over, like only he can. Again when things were getting iffy in the death, Shami cleaned it up with a hat-trick.

How does the graph look?

After wins over South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, each one getting more and more clinical, it appeared as though India had peaked a little too soon. And that was just the case, with the intensity clearly lacking against Afghanistan and West Indies, before the lack of intent being openly exposed against England. It triggered a timely wake-up call, a call to be less rigid with their team combinations, with the team then clearly lifting their standards to brush away Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Best player so far - Rohit Sharma

It's often self-explanatory when someone seriously challenges the all-time record for the most runs in a World Cup within the league stage itself. But with five centuries - a tournament record already - and two of them (against South Africa and England) on pretty dodgy surfaces, he's carried India's batting mantle single-handedly. Yes, Bumrah has been exceptional with the ball, but with numbers as blatant as these, Rohit's made it impossible to look beyond him.

The one for the knockouts - Virat Kohli

It's not often that Kohli is forced to play second fiddle. Alas, such has been Rohit's dominance that Kohli has hardly had anything to do, and in the few instances where he actually did, he's only scored untypical, pretty fifties. But trust the big occasion of the knockout to bring out a renewed vigour in the champion batsman.

Australia

Best performance - Against England

Australia dug their heels into a groggy England side that came up to face them right after suffering a shocking defeat to Sri Lanka at Leeds. An Aaron Finch century and a Warner fifty set the innings up, before Alex Carey's blitz took them to 285 for 7. For England's recent standards that should've been considered below-par, but Jason Behrendorff stepped out of Starc's shadow to dismantle one of the finest batting line-ups. He picked up five, one more than his new-ball partner as England folded for 221 despite Ben Stokes's fighting 89.

Nervy performance - Against India

The only fixture where Finch & Co. looked out of depth was against India. It was one of those games where everything fell in place for their opposition, evident from Dhawan's excellent century. India's seamers then did a fine job to tie down the Aussies, catching them short in chase. It was a strange game for David Warner, who was utterly scratchy for his 84-ball 56, while another of Australia's match-winners - Mitchell Starc - endured a quiet day at the office.

How does the performance graph look?

They may have come into the tournament with a lot of uncertainty, but Australia managed to hit peak form and look like the well-oiled machine that Australia are used to having at World Cups. The defeat to India didn't lead to a break in momentum as such as they won two before and five after that fixture. They'll be keen to write off their defeat to South Africa as an aberration, even though it sends them to Birmingham for a semifinal clash against England.

Best player - Mitchell Starc

It's almost like the last four years never existed. Mitchell Starc is running in like his 2015-self, dishing out yorkers by the dozen and lighting up the stumps. He began the World Cup with a fifer to demonstrate the complete gulf in class between his side and the West Indies, and then bagged his second in a game against New Zealand, denying them in the process in a small chase. In between were two four-fers - best of them coming against the hosts at Lord's. He's taken his tally to 24 wickets, and will be licking his lips to exploit the left-armer conducive conditions at Lord's should Australia make another final.

One for the knockouts - Steve Smith

A lot of Australia's narrative has revolved around Aaron Finch, David Warner and Mitchell Starc in this World Cup, with the exception of Jason Behrendorff in one game. Steve Smith started well, and even has three fifties to his name, but he should the man for the knockouts come July 9. Afterall, if Starc could rekindle his 2015 self, why should Smith be left behind?

England

Best Performance - Against India

After seven games in the home World Cup, England were in a spot of bother and desperately needed a win against India. As the coin flipped in their favour, England rode on Jason Roy and Bairstow's initial assault to carry the side to a challenging score. The match, however, wasn't won yet. Rohit and Kohli threatened to take the game away but Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes used all their experience to squeeze out a nervy 31-run win.

Nervy Performance - Against Sri Lanka

Things would have been a lot easier for England had they not lost to Sri Lanka in a thriller in Leeds. After the initial loss to Pakistan, England had bounced back well with big wins against Bangladesh, West Indies and Afghanistan. When Sri Lanka managed just 232, England had another game in their grasp but Lasith Malinga stole the show to hand the hosts a 20-run loss. That loss particularly dented England's confidence and it showed in the loss against Australia at Lord's in the next game.

How does the performance graph look?

England started with a convincing win over South Africa but were then dented by Pakistan after a narrow loss. England, however, didn't look too bothered as they downed Bangladesh by 106 runs, West Indies by eight wickets and Afghanistan by 150 runs. The real shocker came in the game against Sri Lanka as they lost by 20 runs chasing a modest total. Australia outplayed them at Lord's but wins against India and New Zealand ensured a semifinal berth for Morgan and his side.

Best player so far - Ben Stokes

Seven wickets at an economy of under five and 381 runs at an average of almost 55 - the allrounder has chipped in with key performances in crunch games while a lot of the spotlight has been on the likes of Jofra Archer, Woakes, Bairstow and Joe Root. Take the India game for instance, just when India made a superb comeback, he put the target beyond them with a 54-ball 79.

The one for the knockouts - Jonny Bairstow

No doubt about it. A century against India and then another against England. After drawing a lot of flak for his comments, Bairstow walked the talk and produced match-winning performances when the side really needed it. He's given the side brisk starts and has helped them get ahead right at the beginning with Roy. Even with an average over 50 and 461 runs in the tournament, he's stressed he's hungry for more.

New Zealand

Best performance: Against Sri Lanka

The Blackcaps began their campaign with a bang. They made great use of a pitch that almost resembled the outfield and knocked over Sri Lanka for just 136 - Matt Henry troubled them with swing and seam, while Lockie Ferguson threatened with pace. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro overhauled the total with absolutely no damage.

Nervy Performance: against Bangladesh

If Kane Williamson were off to a dream start, they were seriously pushed to the corner in their very next game. Shakib Al Hasan set a good base as Bangladesh got a decent 244. Williamson escaped a run-out scare as Mushfiqur Rahim broke the bails before collecting the ball. The Kiwis were placed well at 160 for 2 in 31.1 overs. But Williamson gifted his wicket and triggered a collapse. Three wickets fell for 21 runs, including the set Ross Taylor (82). After a while, New Zealand lost two more without any addition to the total. 30 runs were needed with three wickets left. Mitchell Santner remained calm and took them close and they eventually crossed the line with two wickets in hand. New Zealand should have cruised home, but they gave too many chances and almost choked themselves under pressure. Their weak middle-order was easily exposed by Bangladesh.

How does the performance graph look?

A lenient fixture list gave them wins over Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but since the rain-ruined game against India, they began to look a tad beatable. They earned nail-biting wins over South Africa and West Indies to reach 11 points but were stuck there for a while owing to defeats to Pakistan and Australia. But big wins against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan gave them a superior net run rate over Bangladesh and Pakistan, who were also in contention for the final spot in the semis.

Best player - Kane Williamson

As expected, the captain has led from the front with the bat in hand. A fifty against Afghanistan and two extremely vital back-to-back hundreds against South Africa and West Indies was key to New Zealand beating competition to the fourth spot. Williamson leads the batting charts for the side with 481 runs.

The one for the knockouts -Kane Williamson

Yes, Williamson is their best bet, but him not making it big in their last three games resulted in losses. Come the knockouts, it's a no-brainer that the Blackcaps need their captain to fire to cover up for a middle-order that hasn't had a good run in the league stage. A fit Lockie Ferguson is also key to New Zealand's success as he has the ability to trouble batsman even on flat pitches with his raw pace. After all, he is their leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps.

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