Cricket World Cup Power Rankings: Kiwis best while Proteas worst
The 2019 Cricket World Cup got underway last Thursday with ten teams competing against each other for a shot at glory. With every unit having played at least one game, we take the opportunity to rank them based on their showings on Week 1, reflecting an upturn or downturn in results.
The Black Caps have surprisingly been the team of the tournament so far, winning all their matches with relative ease. In their first fixture, the Kane Williamson-led unit absolutely outplayed the Lankans, bowling them out for a mere 136 before chasing it without the loss of any wicket. The second tie against Bangladesh was a closer affair, but Ross Taylor’s 82 ensured that the Kiwis made it four points from four. Fast bowler Matthew Henry has been the pick of their stars with seven wickets to his name.
Like their neighbours, the Aussies have not dropped a point in any of their two opening matches. While the defending champions haven’t exactly hit their lofty and usual standards yet, they’ve shown a lot of promise and are slowly getting in the groove, which is bad news for their rivals. The first triumph was a comfortable seven-wicket success over Afghanistan, with the returning David Warner slamming an unbeaten 89. In the following match, Steve Smith and Co. had to ride their luck but eventually came out on top courtesy of match-winning performances by Nathan Coulter-Nile and Mitchell Starc.
Virat Kohli’s Men in Blue are one of the tournament favourites and although they’ve only played one match yet, they proved the billing in their first fixture against South Africa. Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal were the standout performers with the ball, helping restrict the Proteas to 227. Rohit Sharma led the onslaught while chasing, scoring his 23rd ODI century and seeing India through. The hard work, however, has only just started and their mettle will well and truly be tested against Australia on Sunday.
Had it not been for some senseless batting by their power hitters, the Caribbean Kings would have won against Australia and made it two wins in two. Nonetheless, they’ve been excellent in all three departments of the game so far at the World Cup and are more than in with a chance for qualifying. A sensational bowling effort saw them bamboozle Pakistan in the first match, bowling them out for 105 and chasing that total in 13.4 overs. Oshane Thomas has been one of their star performers with six wickets from two outings.
Hosts and favourites, the World’s best ODI team have looked almost menacing at times this World Cup but still, find themselves at number five on our rankings. In the tournament opener, they split apart the South African bowling to post 311 runs, before bowling them out for 207. Ben Stokes was the star in all departments in that match, although he failed to replicate it in the next match against Pakistan, as the Asian giants narrowly beat England by 14 runs after having posted a massive 348 runs on the board. Their next fixture is a relatively easy one against Bangladesh, and the Eoin Morgan-led unit should be able to bounce back and get their semifinal chase going.
The Lions sprung a huge surprise in their very first match, emerging victorious over the mighty Proteas by 21 runs. Their batting was quite exceptional on the day, scoring a humungous 330 runs from 50 overs. The experienced Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim were the stars of the show as they each hit 70-plus runs in a 142-run stand. While they may have lost the second game against the Kiwis, Bangladesh would take heart from the fact that they pushed them all the way, giving a glaring account of themselves.
The Green Shirts have been the ultimate entertainers so far this World Cup, delivering performances unique to the team in the past few years. In two matches, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Co. have rendered two drastically contrasting displays, winning one in blockbuster fashion, and almost not showing up in the other. Their win came against tournament favourites and hosts, England while the defeat was at the hands of the West Indies. Pacer Mohammad Amir has been their star performer with five wickets.
Dimuth Karunaratne’s side was not in the right frame of mind or form coming into the tournament, and as a result, suffered a humiliating defeat against New Zealand in their first match. Bowled out for 136, the Lankan Lions failed to even pick up a wicket as the Kiwis chased the score in 16 overs. The same could have happened in the following encounter against Afghanistan, but some good bowling bailed them out, earning them two valuable points. Nonetheless, the Lankans are still nowhere where they would like to be and thus, are eighth in our Power Rankings.
The Afghans have perhaps, been the most promising outfit at this World Cup. Their passion and commitment towards improving have been a sensational watch, and they would have been higher on the rankings had they had won a game. Their first fixture was against the gigantic Aussies, but they managed to make a game out of it, losing by a respectable margin. Rain affected their next match against the Lankans where they ended up on the losing end. Even so, Gulbadin Naib’s men have the will and quality in them to take points in further matches this World Cup.
Such has been the Proteas’ plight that they find themselves at the bottom of our rankings. Playing three and losing three this World Cup, Faf du Plessis’ men are yet to get going, underperforming in every facet of the game. The first defeat came against a superior English side, followed by a disastrous bowling display against Bangladesh. In their third game, the South Africans had their moments against India, but a failure to grasp them resulted in a third defeat in as many.
Words: Chandan Pandey