World Cup Preview: Kohli leads India charge for redemption

By Mariah Ramharack May 23, 2019

Mercurial India skipper Virat Kohli leads experience team in quest for third World Cup title.

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  • New Zealand game like a 'quarter-final', admits De Kock New Zealand game like a 'quarter-final', admits De Kock

    Quinton de Kock acknowledges South Africa's Cricket World Cup clash with New Zealand is effectively a "quarter-final" due to its must-win nature, yet the Proteas are feeling confident.

    South Africa endured a miserable start to the World Cup, losing their first three matches and then only taking a point against West Indies due to no result.

    A victory against Afghanistan kept the Proteas' top-four and semi-final hopes alive, but there is no room for error now, with South Africa four points adrift of fourth-placed India.

    "It's a big game for us, but in saying that, our next three or four games that we have [are, too]," De Kock told a news conference on Tuesday.

    "They're all going to be big games for us for the rest of the tournament. We're just going to have to go out there, keep our heads steady and play freely.

    "Tomorrow is a quarter-final, I guess you could say. But if we do win it, it's another big game again.

    "Obviously, it is a big game, but there's a lot more that we are focusing on also. We have to win all the games, not just focus on tomorrow.

    "But in saying that, we know how good New Zealand are playing at the moment. They are a big team in World Cups. They always seem to step up. So it's going to be a tough one."

    Of South Africa's mood, he added: "Before our first game that we played against England, we were in a pretty good space also then, mentally and with preparation.

    "Then obviously, during the course of the tournament, after losing all the time, there's always a bit of a slump in being mentally strong. It's a long tournament, it's a tough tournament.

    "Obviously, getting a win again has given us high hopes. So we are pretty confident at the moment. It's just about taking it out there and giving the guys a good show."

  • Morgan admits record-breaking heroics beyond 'wildest dreams' Morgan admits record-breaking heroics beyond 'wildest dreams'

    Centurion Eoin Morgan admitted his record-breaking heroics against Afghanistan were beyond his "wildest dreams" after helping England move top of the Cricket World Cup standings.

    The England captain smashed 17 sixes - the most by any batsman in an ODI - during a stunning 71-ball innings of 148 on the way to an emphatic 150-run triumph at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

    It came after Morgan had been a doubt for the match after suffering a back spasm in the previous game against West Indies and his raft of maximums was the key contribution in what was also a new world record of 25 team sixes in an innings.

    "I didn't think at any stage it was going to be my day," Morgan said. 

    "Getting quite old, running around with a bad back, you never think you can produce an innings like this. I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd produce an innings like that.

    "It was a special day. It was a tough game, Afghanistan are a side with a lot of potential and it's the World Cup. We're loving playing in it. On the big stage, it is nice to do.

    "I think I have changed. Everybody probably plays the shots I probably started my career with now, so they're not as effective. I've come full circle and I'm probably stronger down the ground now than I've ever been.

    "I haven't yet [put my back out]! Tomorrow's going to be a rough day, I think!"

    The victory saw England, who have won four of their opening five matches, climb above Australia to top the table.

    Jonny Bairstow (90) and the in-form Joe Root (88) also produced high-quality displays with the bat and Morgan could not be happier with the start his side have made to the tournament.

    "Are we where we want to be? Yes," he added. "The next two or three games are pretty crucial for us. 

    "We want to bring our level of intensity to every game we play. We don't want to slack off. Focusing on that and making that a priority is important to us.

    "The intensity can still be there, but you will still make mistakes. 

    "We managed to spill a couple of catches, which can happen. We'll try hard to improve the next few games. But as long as that's there, I think you can't fault the guys."

    Afghanistan, meanwhile, are still searching for their first victory of the tournament, but captain Gulbadin Naib was philosophical in defeat after Morgan's masterclass.

    "How they played was something special," he said. "Credit goes to Morgan, how he batted, I think it was one of the best innings I've seen from him."

  • Morgan hits record 17 sixes as England trounce Afghanistan Morgan hits record 17 sixes as England trounce Afghanistan

    Records tumbled at Old Trafford on Tuesday as a sensational 148 from Eoin Morgan helped England thrash Afghanistan by 150 runs in the Cricket World Cup and move top of the standings.

    England's captain, fit to play having been troubled by a back spasm against West Indies last time out, thumped 17 sixes - the most by any batsman in an ODI - during an enthralling 71-ball innings as the tournament hosts racked up 397-6 after electing to bat.

    Morgan's glut of maximums enabled England to set a world record of 25 in an innings, while the match featured 33 sixes – a new World Cup high.

    Afghanistan, who remain winless, predictably came up well short in reply but they showed admirable resolve to reach 247-8, Hashmatullah Shahidi top-scoring with 76 after recovering from a nasty blow to the helmet.  

    Jonny Bairstow (90 from 99 deliveries) and the prolific Joe Root (88 from 82) made valuable contributions for England, while Moeen Ali blasted 31 not out from nine balls at the death.

    Yet it was Morgan who took centre stage in stunning fashion, his sixes all coming in the arc between long-off and backward square-leg courtesy of a series of punishing pulls, drives and slog-sweeps.

    Morgan was given a life on 28 when Dawlat Zadran misjudged a chance at deep midwicket off Rashid Khan. The mistake proved painfully costly for Afghanistan and Rashid, who finished with 0-110 from nine overs, the most expensive analysis in World Cup history.

     

    MORGAN MAGNIFICENT, BUT ROOT SO IMPORTANT AGAIN

    Rohit Sharma, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle have all managed 16 sixes in an ODI innings, but Morgan went one better in Manchester as he compiled the fourth-fastest hundred in World Cup history.

    While the skipper's contribution was outstanding, the efforts of Root - who now has 367 runs in the tournament from five innings - should not be overlooked. England's number three once again fulfilled his role to perfection, ticking along at roughly a run a ball while eschewing risk. By contributing 43 off 33 deliveries during a third-wicket stand of 189 with Morgan, Root did exactly what was required, unselfishly giving as much of the strike as possible to his partner.

     

    ROY'S REPLACEMENT FAILS TO CONVINCE

    Jason Roy's absence was hardly a factor as England romped to victory without their in-form opener, who has been sidelined by a hamstring tear.

    However, James Vince failed to make the most of his opportunity at the top of the order, departing for 26 after a start that had promised much. 

    Roy has already been ruled out of Friday's clash with Sri Lanka, at the very least, and Vince will be eager not to waste another chance with uncertainty surrounding his fellow batsman's availability for the remainder of the tournament.

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