A wicket-keeper batsman getting better and better by the game, England’s crucial under-the-radar bowler and trauma problems in the Australian camp create Jamie Pacheco’s list of items to keep an eye out for in the semis…
Glove man could be the dangerman of Australia
It hasn’t been great tournament for wicket-keeper batsmen in the point of view of runs. Quinton de Kock did ok but his performances were a far cry from the prolific run-getter of the last few years, Jos Buttler looks strangely out of form and also low on confidence and the great MS Dhoni has made headlines for his slow, conservative and unadventurous innings compared to swashbuckling ones of old. Even the great Sachin Tendulkar voiced his concern.
Hence the wicket-keeper batsmen community can be proud of their efforts of Alex Carey. His three inaugural from nine innings might not look like something to write home about but they will need to be put into context. He’s always been asked to come in at seven and that’s either to perform a rescue act (New Zealand, West Indies), to get them over the line at a tough chase (South Africa) or to score fast after a fantastic beginning. Whatever was needed off himhe always did it.
With 329 runs he is the group’s third highest scorer following David Warner and Aaron Finch. With Usman Khawaja struggling with a hamstring injury and Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis (himself struggling with trauma ) short of runs, it would not be any surprise to see Carey come in a couple of places higher than usual on Thursday. You’ll see far worse stakes than the 10/1 about him high scoring for Australia against England when the semis come about.
In a campaign so far jam-packed with off the-cuff selection decisions by the Indian management, it’d be no surprise if the newest was that Ravindra Jadeja acquired a game in the semi-final.
He played for the very first time this tournament against Sri Lanka, in place of Yuzvendra Chahal, who had been expensive against England. Jadeja bowled 10 overs for only 40 runs, claimed the big wicket of Kusal Mendis, took a catch to dismiss that the well-set HDRL Thrimanne, but was not needed to bat.
He could well keep his position in the team now with any of Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav or Mohammad Shami missing out. There’s another reason why the Indian direction may stick . Or two, instead. Perhaps only Virat Kohli is as good a fielder as him in the side and his presence in the team solves their problem in number eight.
Jadeja’s three-dimensional skills may provide India with a type of safety valve. A contender for? Why not?New Zealand’s opening partnership has been a disaster. Colin Munro was so bad that he was dropped two games ago and his replacement Henry Nicholls hasn’t fared much better. Martin Guptill’s career numbers are very impressive but not so at this World Cup: one fifty in eight innings tells its own story.
It’s all in stark contrast to India’s where the two openers obtained tonnes against Sri Lanka on Saturday. Rohit Sharma has 647 runs, including five decades. KL Rahul has 360 runs like a century and two fifties and this despite the fact he’s only opened in India’s last few games.
It goes a long way to explaining why India are so short at 4/11 to win the match when they face New Zealand. And why it’s only 8/13 that India have the highest opening partnership.
England’s quiet man could make a roar
Liam Plunkett is among the less fussy and not as flashy players who will be playing at the semis but do not underestimate his importance.
Strangely dropped for four games despite not having done much wrong, he returned to the side when England were drinking in last-chance saloon, taking three wickets from India and one against New Zealand. And look at that economy rate: 5.5 at a high-scoring match against India and just 3.5 against the Kiwis.
In a group full of big characters, outspoken characters and players full of’Hollywood’ abilities, this silent character who just gets on with it is as important as any of them. He’s 7/2 to be England bowler against Australia.
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