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Cricket news - World Cup 2019: Top five spells
Gokul Gopal: Starc leaves England deflated (4-43 at Lord's)
Injuries, rehabilitation, lengthy lay-offs, poor form - Mitchell Starc has gone through all that in recent years. But come the World Cup, he's a completely different beast. Having finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker in the 2015 edition, the left-armer appeared to continue from where he left off as he rattled through oppositions with his menacing bowling. England, too, would get a taste of that in a loss that left them precariously placed ahead of the business-end of the 2019 World Cup.
Defending 285, Australia needed early wickets to put the power-packed England batting line-up under pressure and Starc was the man for the job. With a full, swinging delivery that was too much to handle for Joe Root, Starc trapped the consistent No. 3 batsman in front and soon followed up with a sharp bouncer to Eoin Morgan that prompted a tweet from Kevin Pietersen who stated he had "not seen a captain show such a weakness for a while". In a searing first spell, Starc reduced England to 26 for 3.
But this wasn't any old England side that would go down without much of a fight. Ben Stokes was keen to play the hero as he led a remarkable comeback in a defining innings. He was closing in on a century, having revived England's hopes in the game. But Starc wouldn't have any of that, producing the ball of the tournament - a ripping yorker that Stokes had no answer to, leaving the England all-rounder shell-shocked and deflated. Jason Behrendorff might have bettered Starc on the wickets column but it was the latter's impact that stood out
Sagar Chawla: 'X-factor' Archer torments South Africa (2-37 at Kennington Oval)
Jofra Archer was very good, that much was known. His body of work in various T20 leagues around the world, and for Sussex had established his extraordinary talent. But this was his first World Cup. And to get him here, England had tinkered with their No.1 ranked ODI side which didn't go down well with everyone. No pressure, right?
Right. In the tournament opener itself, Archer made a searing mark with a spell so brutal, it dispelled any doubts that might have lingered over his selection. Maybe, just maybe, the damage he inflicted on South Africa's psyche had an enduring effect.
The pitch at the Oval wasn't a belter. The odd ball was stopping and gripping, which played a role in South Africa's comeback as they restricted England to 311. But where someone like Kagiso Rabada resorted to bowling cutters and his cross-seam variations, Archer chose to burn the speed-gun, averaging 89mph in his opening spell.
That Archer's run-up is deceptive was no secret. The blow to Hashim Amla's helmet further emphasised that. Before Amla could react to the bouncer, he got planted. It was a wonder the impact didn't throw him back on to his stumps, but it sure took him out with a concussion. At this point, in the fourth over, the Proteas got a fair idea of what they were up against.
It was only a matter of time before the wickets came. Aiden Markram, known for his back foot play, was beaten for pace and edged a lifting delivery to second slip. Faf du Plessis was in no control of his pull shot, top-edging it to fine leg. And even a well-set van der Dussen, batting on 50, found a short ball too hot to handle, pulling it only as far as mid-on.
"He's a little bit nippier when he hits the crease and that's why he is such an X-factor bowler," Faf du Plessis said about Archer after the match, which England won by 104 runs, thanks in no small part to their 24-year-old paceman.
Varun Dikshit: Malinga's time travel at Headingley (4-41 at Leeds)
Sri Lanka's World Cup campaign was in shambles when they met England in their bastion at Headingley. England last lost a match at that venue eight years back in 2011 and the manner in which they smashed Afghanistan in their previous match, Sri Lanka needed a miracle of sorts to upset this England team of the highest pedigree. Batting first, Sri Lanka somehow meandered their way to a below par 232. And almost every connoisseur believed, 50 overs were probably too much for England to chase that target down.
Lasith Malinga had the new nut in his hand and the glaring focus in his eyes was evident. The target wasn't huge but his ambitions were. His second ball to Bairstow was a trademark Malinga delivery, it came in with the angle, Bairstow failed to pick it up and probably for the umpteenth time in Malinga's career, he deceived the batsman via his action. Bairstow was trapped in front for a golden duck and Sri Lanka believed! Malinga soon proved to be the reason of Vince's dismissal too as he edged it to second slip.
England recovered from the early collapse and at 127-3, with around 100 needed to win the hosts were in a rather comfortable position. Sri Lanka's skipper turned to his ace again and as he has done throughout his career, the man delivered again. There was an element of luck involved in the way he got rid of Root; a strangle down the leg-side. Malinga's magical spell didn't stop there, he rolled back the years and unleashed a Malinga special - The toe-crusher to Buttler and one of England's finest had no answers to it. And Malinga proved that his sorcery has not yet diminished. His sensational spell of 4/41 proved decisive as Sri Lanka came out on top against England and probably inflicted the upset of the World Cup.
Purnima Malhotra: Henry pins India on the mat (3/37 vs India, 1st Semifinal, Manchester)
The idea of a target of 240 would have seemed sub-par against India on paper, but with the rain pushing the first semifinal to a reserve day and moisture seeping under the wicket, the envious top order had to negotiate the two new balls in conditions aiding swing and seam to set up their date at Lord's in the finale. While all eyes, and New Zealand's hopes, were affixed on Trent Boult, Matt Henry stole the show with his scrambled seam bowling that pinned India down to 5 for 3, and later 24 for 4, in an opening spell that would have a telling impact on the game.
The first blow came halfway through Henry's first over itself - second of India's chase - when the leading run-scorer of the tournament was undone by a perfect outswinger. Rohit Sharma went fiddling with the ball with his feet stuck in the crease and sent an outside edge behind the stumps that Tom Latham gleefully accepted. India's other opener KL Rahul too was caught flirting with a similar delivery and nicked off for Latham to take a spectacular diving catch in front of first slip.
Dinesh Karthik offered some resistance and took 21 balls to get off the mark but his vigil lasted only four more deliveries. Off the final ball of the mandatory 10-over powerplay, Karthik drove in the air and James Neesham just threw himself at it, fielding at point, and snapped a low one-handed catch to his left to pluck a third wicket for Henry out of nowhere. In between, Boult's inswing had trapped Virat Kohli lbw for 1, and India's fate was all but sealed.
Prakash Govindasreenivasan: Liam Plunkett delivers on Morgan's beck and call (3/42 vs England, Final, Lord's)
In a final that is going to remain untouched in terms of quality for a long time (or even an eternity), there were lots of contenders for the top prize with the ball. But Liam Plunkett edged out his compatriots and a couple of New Zealand bowlers to take the cake. Breaking a big partnership is commendable, but to leave New Zealand to unearth another saviour in just the 23rd over by dismissing Kane Williamson for 30 was a level above.
Four overs later, another one of those Plunkett specials - a nagging length ball on a friendly surface - downed a New Zealand batsman - this time the half-centurion Henry Nicholls. In the span of a three-over second spell, Plunkett did the damage he was summoned for and gave England back the control. And then when he was brought back for the third time in the midst of a James Neesham-inspired Kiwi renaissance, he struck again - a full delivery forcing a false shot to mid-on from Neesham - to clip the wings of the batting side.
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