PAKISTAN vs AFGHANISTAN
Well you got to feel bad for Afghanistan as many a times they have come close to winning but end up losing. Their spirited performance especially with the ball certainly must have made all the afghan fans proud of them. Afghanistan opting to bat first at Headingley again suffered a top order conundrum with the top 4 batsman struggling to provide powerful starts since the past few matches. However, Asgar Afghan (42) and Zadran (42) down the order pushed Afghanistan to a respectable total of 227/9 in 50 overs. Imad Wasim with 4/47 was the pick of the bowlers while it was good to see Wahab Riaz (2/29 in 8 overs) looking in some elements.
Afghanistan team have always given their best when it comes to bowling and this match was a no exception either. Pakistan batsman kept losing wickets at regular intervals with their scoreboard at one stage looking 156/6 in 39 overs. With just 4 wkts in hand and 75 runs required in last 11 overs, Imad Wasim played a blinder hitting 49* at no.7 which eventually pushed Pakistan to a nerve wrecking win by 3 wkts. It was a match which went till the last over and you definitely can’t say that Afghans were whitewashed in this match or in the tournament. A win for Pakistan has put them in the top 4 slots and now if India defeats England, Pakistan can see themselves battling it out in the semi-finals vs India!
Imad Wasim for his excellent all-round show was declared “man of the match”
AUSTRALIA vs NEW ZEALAND
Australia opting to bat first at Iconic Lords suffered a serious collapse with wickets tumbling at almost every 5 overs. At one stage Australia were 92/5 in the 22nd over and were looking helpless till the calm as cucumber Usman Khwaja kept his nerves and dodged the bowlers confidently. Yes there were a few niggles in his batting but it was again a classy knock which makes him set apart from the latest generation of aggressive cricketers. Khwaja also received excellent support from wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey who was looking supremely confident playing natural cricket en-route his 71 off 72 balls at no.7 pushing Australia from 92/5 to 243/9 in 50 overs. Trent Boult was simply murderous with the ball steaming in with vicious Yorkers as he was the pick of the bowlers with 4/51 in 10 overs.
Chasing 244, New Zealand required someone to score atleast 70-80 odd runs individually but they lacked someone who could provide that firepower. Usually the middle and lower middle order consisting of players like Neesham and Grandhomme have also chipped in with match winning knocks but it wasn’t the case in this match as they were soon bundled out for 157 runs in 42.4 oves. If NZ had boult spitting fire, Australia has red hot Starc proving too difficult to handle as he came up with 5/31 in 9 overs registering his 2nd 5wkt haul in this World Cup’19
Australia won the match by 86 runs while Alex Carey (71 runs) who played fearless cricket under pressure was declared ‘man of the match’