Southee, McCullum humble England

Saturday, Feb 21, 2015,0:03 IST By Abhinav Iyer A A A

Tim Southee produced one of the great spells in Cricket World Cup history to help New Zealand bundle out England for a paltry score 123 in 33 overs. Southee’s figueres of a 7/33 were the third best in Cricket World Cup history and the best figures ever for a New Zealand bowler in a One Day International match. Chasing 123, the CSK lad and NZ captain, Brendon McCullum went berserk in his approach to hunt down the target. He brought up his 50 in 18 balls, which is now a record for the quickest fifty in a World Cup game.

Winning the toss and confidently choosing to bat first, the Eoin Morgan led side lost the last six wickets for 19 runs after the departure of their captain who scored a modest 17, facing 41 deliveries. Joe Root was the only Englishman, who tried to apply himself in the crease. Credit where it is due. New Zealand were magnificent here in their capital city and Tim Southee produced a truly great spell of fast bowling to rip the heart out of the feeble English batting. It was close to the perfect performance. This is not the New Zealand we have become accustomed to in recent years. They are no longer the dark horses or the gallant, but not quite top class, triers. They are one of the best, most aggressive and potent teams in this tournament. This was a special day for New Zealand cricket and their hugely impressive captain who thrashed England for 77 in just 25 balls with seven sixes and eight fours. Yes that’s right. He hit 77 off 25 balls whereas the best England could muster was Root’s 46 as everything fell apart around him. Men against boys.

They call it a fifty over per side game, but this battle between the Kiwis and the Englishmen didn’t even last a total of forty six overs, when we sum up the total number of overs faced by both teams. The day night match, was over way before the lights were put on at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, on Friday. The British press has been really critical of the team’s performances since the turn of the year, and have already labelled this match day as the Worst Day in English Cricket.

England have to start performing much better if they are to reach the quarter-final of the tournament. They have to beat neighbours Scotland in their next game and can ill-afford a slip up at this stage, if they are to progress after back to back demolitions by the host nations.

Pakistan-West Indies look for their first win.

Pakistan and West Indies didn’t get off to the best starts in the tournament with opening game losses to India and Ireland respectively. They go into this key fixture on Saturday at Christchurch with only one motive, and that’s win. Both teams would welcome a victory, be it in whatever way it comes in. The game is to be played at Hagley Oval, which is a high scoring ground, as NZ scored 331 in the opening game of the tournament on Saturday. What makes this game so crucial is that, West Indies’ loss has given one of the relatively weaker team, an advantage to progress to the Quarter Finals. If they could repeat a performance like that against one more big team like India, Pakistan or SA and manage to beat Zimbabwe and UAE, who they believe they’ll win against, will create a big problem for the team which loses on Saturday in Christchurch. India and South Africa are expected to go through to the next stage without any real hiccups.

Both teams need their top order to fire and they’ll look for their experienced men in the team to do that. A lot depends on Chris Gayle as the dashing opener from Kingston, Jamaica could crush any side on his day. Having personally met him last year, he can be intimidating personality. West Indies would not want a top order failure like last time and the onus in on Chris Gayle and co. to provide the team with a great start.

After promoting Younus Khan to No.2 in the batting order, they did not get the best of the starts against India. He departed early, putting pressure on Pakistan’s star batsman Ahmed Shehzaad. They need the experienced campaigner to fire in Christchurch. Also, Pakistan need to find a solution to accommodate Sarfaraz Khan as a wicketkeeper in the team. They went in with a part time keeper in Umar Akmal and that proved to be costly for the team.
Expect a lot of fireworks from the two dented sides. This is going to be a cracker of a game!