The World Cup Pulse

Virat Kohli notched up his 50th ODI century
Virat Kohli notched up his 50th ODI century ©ICC
November 16


The Bombay dreams...

In the city of dreams, Virat Kohli living something he hadn't even dreamt of. He brought up his record 50th ODI century in Mumbai, the spiritual home of Indian cricket, in a game attended by the who's who of the city, including Sachin Tendulkar himself while Viv Richards commentated on his innings. "Claiming the crown in this setting would cement the lineage of ODI batting greatness across the three generations," writes Kaushik Rangarajan. Stuff of dreams?

More records tumbled and how! He overtook Ricky Ponting's tally of ODI runs, Tendulkar's record of most runs in a single edition of a World Cup. He wasn't the only one keeping the record-keepers busy. Mohammed Shami continued his phenomenal World Cup run with a record seven-wicket return against New Zealand to help India to yet another World Cup final. Vijay Tagore writes about the seamer's spell while Deepu Narayana is back helping us with all the numbers.

Report | Scorecard | Photo Gallery

Pitching it not so right

Ahead of the first semifinal, it emerged that the pitch for the crucial semifinal encounter was changed at the behest of the host board. Instead of a fresh pitch, which is usually used for ICC knockout games, a used pitch on which two games were played, was in use for the India vs New Zealand encounter. Despite the loss, Kane Williamson opted not to fuss too much over the changed surface and instead stated that 'Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the better side'.

On the menu tonight...

A clash of two heavyweights, even if ones who have had contrasting fortunes in World Cups. One that crumbles in knockouts, the other that has historically brought out its best in big games. South Africa and Australia are up against each other once more. Telford Vice previews the second semifinal.

Will the challenge between Australia's top order and South Africa's new-ball attack be the decisive factor in today's contest? How will Australia look to halt the rampaging Quinton de Kock? Here's Deepu Narayana again with the tactical preview for the game.

David Warner hasn't been too bad either for Australia in this World Cup and could pose a serious counter to South Africa's strengths. The redemption arc for the Ausralian opener has been quite something since the Sandpaparegate saga. Some bad choices have led to good stories, and he wouldn't want anything less than another World Cup trophy in what could be his last outing at the 50-over edition of the tournament.

Bharat Sundaresan writes that it's going to be a toss-up between Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Stoinis on the tricky surface in Kolkata. They both bring in their respective strengths - While Labuschagne's ability to work the spinners around while employing the occasional shot in anger could well be handy if the pitch is a slow turner, Stoinis has shown in recent times that he's a confident striker of the ball against spin.

What does it mean for the players to be wearing the flag on South African shirts? There are thoughtfully expressed differences of opinion, but when the semifinal comes, they will all be in tune with their desires, writes Telford Vice

November 15


Preview - A first-blink challenge

- By Kaushik Rangarajan

Nine league games, nine wins. Is there a chink in India's armour? Who knows. Through this glorious run, Rohit Sharma's men have exuded main character energy to a point where the lack of anxiety on their path has been the leading cause of anxiousness among their supporters. New Zealand's path to this point has not been anywhere near as seamless and even included a run of four straight defeats, all to teams in the top-half of the standings. And yet here they are, in a World Cup semifinal for the ninth time.

What would Rohit do? What did Mitchell do?

- By Kaushik Rangarajan

When New Zealand bat on what is expected to be a much better batting surface in Mumbai, they might simply have to ask themselves: What would Rohit do? The answer to the spin challenge is available looking inwards: What did Daryl Mitchell do? A bunker mentality may not be enough to unnerve the best bowling attack of the competition and New Zealand should be willing to go into the trenches and trade punches.

Tactical Preview - The Wankhede Conundrum and more

- By Deepu Narayanan

India have steamrolled most of their opponents in this competition while New Zealand can take confidence from the fact that they were the only side to give them a run for their money in the league stage. The Wankhede contest will be a clash of India's quality against New Zealand's depth as much as anything else.

The making of Rachin Ravindra

- By Vijay Tagore

Cricket has always been an integral part of the Rachin family's daily life. They have been passionate followers of sports, and this love for cricket naturally extended to Rachin. The father, a Level 3 coach in New Zealand, started coaching Rachin from a young age. It was a seamless fit as both shared a similar interest in the game.

Role clarity and a result-proof environment: Rohit's vision

The Indian captain revealed that he managed to 'switch off' from the game when not on the field amidst pressures and expectations of leading the team in a home World Cup. He also sidestepped a question about this being the most dominant World Cup squad of his time but offered a peek into his captaincy vision. "I just believe that as a captain, if you have decided that this is how you want to play as a team, then there needs to be clarity amongst the team," he said. "And then if a certain player wants to go out there and play in the way that you want him to play, then you've got to back that player to the hilt. And that is what we've done."

Williamson looking ahead to a 'really tough challenge'

Comparisons with Manchester 2019 are difficult to ignore but Williamson admitted the Wankhede clash will be different from the Old Trafford game which New Zealand won by 18 runs. "The game will be a little bit different. It might be played over one day rather than two, looking at the weather, but at the same time teams work hard to get to this stage, they have to play a lot of good cricket within the format or the structure of the tournament to get here over such a long period of time. It's a great occasion and it's on the day. Both teams are looking to play their best cricket and compete in the best way that they can."

Bavuma and the misconceptions of his irrational detractors

- By Telford Vice

Typical of the sad logic of Bavuma's more irrational detractors is their widely expressed hope that he will not play in Thursday's semifinal because of the hamstring strain he suffered while fielding against Afghanistan in Ahmedabad on Friday. But their wish would have been rocked by Bavuma coming through a training session at Eden Gardens on Monday in one piece.

Review - Bangladesh: Chaotic, shambolic underperformance

- By Prakash Govindasreenivasan

Bangladesh will have a lot to dissect and turn around from their worst-ever World Cup performance. It started in the back-drop of Tamim Iqbal's controversial ouster, and finished with stand-in captain Najmul Hossain Shanto regretting the batting order changes that Bangladesh repeatedly simulated in bilaterals and Asia Cup in the lead-up to the World Cup, rather successfully. The slimmest of silver linings even from this forgettable campaign is Bangladesh somehow found their way to eighth - the last spot for Champions Trophy qualification - and held onto it.

Interview - Najmul Hossain is a coach's delight: Sriram

- By Atif Azam

Sridharan Sriram is a man in demand in Bangladesh. After working as the technical consultant during last year's T20 World Cup, he was once again roped in for the same role for the 50-over tournament this year. In a chat with Cricbuzz, the former India spinner opens up about all that went wrong for Bangladesh in their underwhelming World Cup campaign.

November 14


Building up to the semifinals

Hesson tips Wankhede factor to aid New Zealand in semis

- By Vijay Tagore

Mike Hesson, the former New Zealand coach, believes the India-New Zealand semifinal in the World Cup on Wednesday will be a contest between David and Goliath, but the Kiwis would not have preferred to face their mighty opposition anywhere other than at the Wankhede in Mumbai. "The Wankhede is actually a good ground for New Zealand. If you're going to play India at any ground, Mumbai is not a bad one. I think our bowling attack will get some bounce there. So therefore if we get bounce, we've got to take early wickets," he says.

'Henry a big miss, but Southee brings lot of experience'

- By Vijay Tagore

Matt Henry was a significant factor in the 2019 semifinal when New Zealand defeated India. The pacer made vital breakthroughs when India began their chase on Day two, claiming the wickets of Rohit Sharma and his opening partner KL Rahul in back-to-back overs. This time around, Henry won't be present, because of an injury, but Lockie Ferguson says Tim Southee has filled the void left by Henry's absence. Obviously pretty disheartened with how Matt Henry exited the World Cup, which was such a shame. But now from a cricket point of view Tim Southee brings a lot of experience obviously being captain of the Test team, captain in T20s and one-dayers too, so I think that experience counts for a lot."

Bavuma moves with freedom in training

- By Telford Vice

Temba Bavuma trained without significant evidence of discomfort during South Africa's optional practice session at the Eden Gardens on Monday ahead of Thursday's men's World Cup semifinal against Australia in Kolkata. The South Africa captain's movements were noticeably affected after his strained his right hamstring five balls into the match against Afghanistan in Ahmedabad on Friday, putting his participation in the semifinal in doubt. Team management said on Saturday Bavuma had "showed improvement overnight" and on Sunday that he "did not go for a scan".

A different take on South Africa's World Cup narrative

- By Telford Vice

Gerald Coetzee hasn't lived any of South Africa's World Cup heartbreaks. All he knows is that Australia, the opposition in the semi-final, have lost four of the last six ODIs against them. "We're talking about winning a World Cup, but we understand that it's cricket and that's a difficult game. There's no dishonour in losing. We're coming to play. Whatever happens will happen. That is out of our control. But we'll pitch up and play our best cricket. If we lose, we lose. If someone wants to call us chokers, that's outside our control. But we're playing to win," he says.

'It should be one ball not two'

- By Bharat Sundaresan

Five years after Sachin Tendulkar had called it a "perfect recipe for disaster", Mitchell Starc has asked for those running the sport to do away with having two new balls in ODI cricket. "I still think it should be one ball not two...The ball stays harder for longer. As we've seen here, the grounds are quite small, wickets are flat. If anything in world cricket wickets have gotten flatter and I think if you look at some of that old footage when they bowled with one ball, reverse swing comes into it a lot more. That actually brings the bowlers back into the game."

Team reviews

Sri Lanka - Injuries, inconsistencies and controversies

- By Purnima Malhotra

Despite their losses in their opening two games, there was some promise. But their campaign catapulted just as rapidly, plagued by injuries and inconsistencies in equal parts. And to make their exit more painful was a spate of controversies that plagued the team starting with the ugly, and rather public spat over Angelo Mathews' timed-out decision to the board's immediate suspension by the ICC just after.

Netherlands: Two steps forward despite finishing last

- By Gokul Gopal

Although they finished last on the points table and not making the Champions Trophy cut, the Dutch gave a good account of themselves in the 2023 World Cup. Associates is a banned word for the Netherlands in the dressing room, and for a good reason. As they now look forward to the T20 World Cup next year, they will also hope to spend some quality time playing ODIs against the teams with Test status. And going by what head coach Ryan Cook had to say, there are a few offers on the table.

Calling it quits

Morne Morkel resigns as Pakistan bowling coach

- By Vijay Tagore

Former South Africa pacer Morne Morkel has resigned as Pakistan's fast bowling coach, becoming the first personnel to exit in the aftermath of an underwhelming ODI World Cup performance by the side. Pakistan's board is set to announce a replacement for him in due course as the team prepares for its next sojourn - a three-match Test series in Australia starting on December 14.

November 13


India's perfect 9-0

Scorecard | Report | Points Table

India became the only team to finish the league stage of this World Cup with victories in all their matches, completing the 9-0 with a 160-run hammering of the Netherlands. With this, they have also registered their most consecutive wins in a single edition of the World Cup, bettering their eight wins in the 2003 edition. Their next agenda will be to equal Australia, who have the most successive victories - 11, in both 2003 and 2007.

Fifties from the top three provided India a good platform after they opted to bat. But the stars of the show were Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, who stroked fine centuries at No.4 and No.5, putting on a massive 208-run partnership, to power India to 410/4. The Netherlands posted 62 in their first powerplay but lost regular wickets after that. India even tried out their part-timers, with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma picking up a wicket apiece as the Dutch were bowled out for 250 to finish at the bottom of the table.

The different gears of KL Rahul

It's been a World Cup where KL Rahul has had to wear different middle-order hats. Against Australia, he walked in at 2/3 and anchored a chase with a steady 97*. Against England he made a slide-arresting 39 off 58 in a 91-run stand with Rohit Sharma. Versus New Zealand he made a useful 27 off 35 to keep India abreast with the required rate. And then came the overdrive against the Netherlands. Rahul scored his first run in the 30th over, his first boundary in the 35th, his half-century in the 43rd and still motored to the fastest World Cup hundred by an Indian (62 balls). Kaushik Rangarajan writes on KL Rahul's evolution at No.5 and why he forms a vital cog for India heading into the knockouts.

Records galore for India

It started with Rohit Sharma surpassing AB de Villiers record for most sixes in a calendar year, as he extended his 2023 tally to 60. He also went past Eoin Morgan's tally of 22 to register the most sixes by a captain in a single edition of the World Cup. Shubman Gill recorded the joint second-fastest half-century for India in World Cups, equalling Rohit Sharma's efforts as he got to fifty in 30 balls. Rohit and Gill brought up their fifth century stand this year, moving to the top of that list as well. Rohit recorded his 13th fifty-plus score in World Cups as he moved up to the joint third while Kohli, with his 15th fifty-plus score, consolidated his second position. Rohit also went past 500 runs in this World Cup, becoming the first Indian captain to do so, and also became the first player to record 500-plus scores in successive editions of the World Cup.

Kohli's fifty-plus score was his seventh in this edition as he equalled Sachin Tendulkar (2003) and Shakib Al Hasan (2019). With the top five batters all crossing fifty, it was only the third such instance in men's ODIs. The pair of Shreyas and Rahul recorded the highest partnership for the fourth wicket of below for India in World Cups, and India's half-centuries tally in this edition extended to 20, one more than what they achieved in 2019. Rahul surpassed Rohit Sharma's 63-ball 100 against Afghanistan to registered the fastest World Cup hundred by an Indian. Rahul's 100 was also only the second by an Indian wicketkeeper-batter in the World Cup, after Rahul Dravid's 145 in 1999. Ravindra Jadeja then took his 16th wicket in this World Cup, going past Anil Kumble and Yuvraj Singh's tally for most wickets by an Indian spinner in the World Cup.

The road ahead for the plucky Dutch

Although they finished at the bottom of the table, having reached a peak of seventh position mid-way through the campaign, and did not make the Champions Trophy cut, the Netherlands won't leave India as a completely disappointed team. Never before had Netherlands won two games in the 50-over World Cup. Never before had Netherlands beaten a Test-playing nation in the competition. The batch of 2023 have ticked off a few firsts. The Dutch will now will hope their World Cup performances will attract more interest in the sport back home, more sponsorship, greater revenue and most of all, more fixtures, writes Aayush Puthran.

Mitchell Marsh - Mr. Popular

Mitchell Marsh makes you want to care for him because he cares for those around him. He makes them happier with his presence. Ask anyone who's played in a team with him. They all say the same and can barely stop raving about how much of a positive influence he always is on, and especially more so, off the field. Marsh scores a century and his teammates start getting emotional. Be it his Ashes ton in Leeds, the one in Bengaluru in this World Cup or the 177* against Bangladesh in Pune, there is a kind of unbridled jubilation from the dressing room that is unmatched for any other player getting to a milestone, writes Bharat Sundaresan.

The curious case of Bavuma's availability

The most important ODI of Temba Bavuma's career - and that of his players - is days away, but there's no clarity on whether the skipper will make the cut after being laid low by a hamstring injury. His team-mates have backed the captain despite his minimal contribution with the bat. But South Africa's important semifinal game against Australia in Kolkata is in the shadow of the established truth that hamstring strains are notoriously tenacious - just like the victim in this case, writes Telford Vice.

November 12


What's on the menu tonight?

Table-toppers India's last game, against Netherlands - or the hosts' chance to run systems check ahead of knockouts, as our previewer Kaushik Rangarajan called it. Netherlands, meanwhile, return to the city where their laudable campaign started, hoping to exit with another statement-making performance. If they win, Champions Trophy spot is theirs, if they lose, they finish last and Ryan Cook knows India won't take their foot off the pedal even with their knockouts berth secured.

Marsh blitzkrieg makes it seven wins in a row for Australia

Points table | Scorecard | Report

Talk about peaking at the right time, yeah? Australia now have seven in a row after nearly being written off with their two successive defeats upfront. Marsh led the way with an imperious 177* as Australia pulled off their highest successful chase in World Cup history inside 45 overs. On a belter in Pune, Bangladesh had contributions coming from all of their top-seven, though only Towid Hridoy converted it into a meaningful 74. They posted 306, but despite an early wicket, couldn't stop the Marsh assault. 17 fours, nine sixes 132 balls - it was a one-man show from there on.

They may have been down and out even before taking the field, but Bangladesh had no shortage of crowd support in Pune. Vijat Tagore tells the tale

England secure Champions Trophy spot

Scorecard | Report

David Willey has signed off from international cricket, and he's signed off with a Player of the Match performance to help England salvage some pride by securing a Champions Trophy spot! His twin strikes to remove both Pakistan openers in 1st and third over derailed Pakistan's chase even before it properly took off. The chase you ask? England had posted 337, setting Pakistan an improbable task and confirming New Zealand a spot in the semis. Stokes, Root and Bairstow all came to the party to help at least sign off with a statement win. Pakistan will be on thier flight back soon and Director of Cricket, Mickey Arthur, was blunt in his assessment of what the future should be like for Pakistan.

November 11


A leftovers of a dream, devoured

Scorecard | Report | Points Table

South Africa vs Afghanistan, one final dead rubber hurrah at the theatre of dreams, the World's Largest Cricket Stadium, but the summit clash on the 19th. At the toss, Afghan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi said that the loss against Australia "really hurt" the Afghans, and that this match was extremely important - presumably to redeem some pride. Afghanistan didn't win the match, but they did leave the arena with their heads held high.

Another overachieving batting performance against a potent bowling attack ended on 244, all-out off the final ball of the 50-over quota. The top order threw away starts but then the batters played around Azmatullah Omarzai, who went on to remain unbeaten on 97. However, it was with the bat that South Africa looked like a changed side. With all the accolades in the tournament, chasing hasn't been one of South Africa's strengths, with meltdowns against Netherlands, and more recently, against India.

However, it looked like they finally decided to soak in the pressure and settle in for a challenge, rather than hit their way out of a situation, writes Telford Vice in his feature.

The dead-rubber double-header (adjacent)Australia vs Bangladesh, Pune

A long lost Bangladesh campaign, with as many problems on the field as they have off it, face up against an Australian side that is breathing absolute fire at the moment. The fact that Bangladesh have no regard for Champions Trophy qualification indicates a nothing-to-lose mindset.

Moreover, Steven Smith is set to return after missing out on the last game against Afghanistan due to vertigo. Bharat Sundaresan previews the first game of the Saturday double-header, while our live coverage team takes you through a history of the two sides in World Cup cricket, as Australia and Bangladesh face off in Pune.

England vs Pakistan, Kolkata

Two campaigns that have left our jaws on the floor, and not in a good way. Pakistan have lost a few unexpected ones, and won a few unexpected ones - lost to Afghanistan, and South Africa in a nailbiter, and beaten New Zealand in a chase of 400+. That's pretty routine for Pakistan.

England, on the other hand, have had a torrid campaign, failing to beat any side other than Bangladesh and only earning themselves their second win of the tournament two days ago against the Netherlands. Not quite the legacy expected of "The barest of margins" final, the greatest ODI of them all, but here we are, as England struggle to make the top eight and qualify for the Champions Trophy. Here's a look at their head-to-head record in World Cup cricket, courtesy our live coverage team.

Ganesh Chandrasekaranfeat. stats-man Deepu Narayanan preview the clash between England and Pakistan, and stack up a few ridiculous scenarios that the latter must fulfil to qualify for the semi-finals. Not even mercurial Pakistan could realistically pull it off, but for the sake of a conversation, even setting England a target of 400 requires them to bowl England out for 112. The odds are terrible, but not as astronomical as they would be if England batted first - Pakistan would have to chase down 200 in 27 balls, and 300 in 37.

The premature aftermath: a World Cup tradition

Every World Cup, particularly every failed World Cup campaign, brings about a host of big decisions. Resignations as coach, captain, revamps, and the like. For now, it's just a premature version of it brewing, including Dawid Malan (England's best batter of the World Cup) reassessing his future with England, Babar Azam denying potential pressure on his position as Pakistan's captain, and the ruckus in the Bangladesh dressing room including Allan Donald stepping down as bowling coach, while also condemning Shakib's actions against Angelo Mathews.



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