There are moments in sports where teams hope and optimism are extremely high. That applied to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan before their matches against New Zealand and Australia respectively began.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Sri Lanka and Afghanistan to get the victory but what occurred was unfortunate as both sides were beaten convincingly.
New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
New Zealand and Sri Lanka arrived in Cardiff to an absolutely beautiful pitch and great conditions. But that’s as good as it gets for Sri Lanka because they were on the back foot from the first ball. The dark horses New Zealand made a statement going forward by thrashing Sri Lanka by 10 wickets. Their dominance was so overwhelming for the Sri Lankan’s that only 45.3 overs of a possible 100 overs took place. Sri Lanka have been suffering from internal problems which have proved costly as they have lost 9 of their last 10 series. They only managed to score 136 in 29.2 overs which was their third lowest score at a World Cup.
Superb Batting & Bowling
New Zealand stand out players were Martin Guptill and Colin Munro who chased down Sri Lanka’s total in just 16.1 overs. They put on a destructive batting performance with Guptill scoring 73 not out and Munro scoring 58 not out. Their stand out bowler was Matt Henry who certainly filled the boots of the missing Southee by taking 3 for 29 in the opening 7 overs. New Zealand’s pace bowlers were in full swing after taking 5 wickets for just 14 runs. Their performance proved why they shouldn’t be labeled as the dark horses but instead one of the favorites for the rest of the tournament.
Australia vs Afghanistan
The rank outsiders Afghanistan struggled against a far superior and defending champions Australia. Afghanistan opted to to bat first which began in disastrous fashion when they slumped to 5 for 2. Their fight back was brave and it led by Rahmat Shah and Najibullah Zadran who scored 43 and 51 respectively. They managed to reach a respectable total of 207 all out with 11 overs still remaining. Australia’s reply was emphatic with their openers David Warner who scoring 89 not out and was helped by Aaron Finch who scored 66 off just 49 balls. This isn’t to cast a shadow over their bowlers who certainly played their role in securing victory. Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa were the pick of the bowlers each grabbing 3 wickets.
Australia has faced a lot of controversy in the last year especially after the scandal that occurred in South Africa involving Warner and Smith. The pair appear to have returned fresh and ready for the World Cup and are looking back to their best.
Both Australia and New Zealand are looking like teams that can go all the way. They put on terrific performances in their opening games. For Sri Lanka especially they are not nearly at their best and will really need to up their game if they want to compete at all in this World Cup. Afghanistan are the underdogs and to prove everyone wrong is going to be a tough feat, but it’s the World Cup and anything is possible.