Runs for everyone (well not Bangladesh) as England cruise, and Pakistan chase

Sri Lanka have made runs twice and lost, that makes me sad.

We saw runs, lots and lots of sloggy, sweepy, slicey runs.

England finally win a game in a World Cup after a tie and loss to New Zealand in their last match. Bangladesh have no answers for a team they played pretty damn well at home. Pakistan got home in a huge chase with Babar providing very little. The Sri Lankans continue to bat better than anyone hoped while losing matches.

Let’s check the tape.

Ban v Eng

Dawid Malan Carving his own path/trail (CS)

Dawid Malan has a reputation for not being an explosive batter early on, however, against Bangladesh he showed he could play the Jason Roy role by being the aggressor in his partnership with Jonny Bairstow. Malan’s 50 came off 39 balls while Bairstow’s came off 54. Today was also Malan’s quickest start in the Powerplay for England.

Malan has a great conversion rate, which is good for England. They now have someone - besides Joe Root - who can score big runs. In his last five innings, Malan has scored 4 scores of 50 or more. He has converted two of them into 100s (one was 127 and today he scored 140)

This is now the highest score at Dharamshala, beating Kohli’s 127 against West Indies in 2014

For a long time, I have been saying that Malan’s best format is ODI. England started with him as a Test player and tried to ignore him as a T20 player, but he really didn’t get an ODI chance. For the tempo and ability to score big and long he has, this is where he belongs. It doesn’t mean they were wrong to use Roy and Hales, because they were important players to show England’s new way. But Malan in ODIs makes sense.

Malan & Root - The middle overs engine (SAK)

Today, England scored much quicker in the guts of the innings than at the start and the end. I've talked about this several times. A major reason why England achieved a lot of their success in limited overs cricket was by dominating the 11-40 overs phase, where they were a lot more proactive than the other top teams. The middle order of Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, and Ben Stokes was key - they would knock the ball around efficiently, but they could also change their gears according to the match situation.

The engine, the glue that held the innings together.

Although Dawid Malan is opening in this English team, he also has the game to bat at number 3. He can rotate strike effectively, not play a lot of dots and hit the odd boundaries. But he was a different beast altogether today. Joe Root played few ODIs since the last World Cup, and whenever he did he didn’t do too well. But he’s started the tournament with two crucial half-centuries, navigating through the innings in the middle overs.

Bangladesh pull things back (SAK)

In the 40th over, England were 296/2 with a well-set Joe Root and the destructive Jos Buttler at the crease. At that point in the innings, 400 seemed inevitable with Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, and Chris Woakes to follow.

Shoriful Islam bowled a knuckle ball angled wide across the stumps to dismiss Buttler who naturally had a rush of blood in this phase. Joe Root top-edged a slower ball when he tried to swing it across the line. The very next delivery, he bowled an off-cutter that hit the top of Livingstone’s off stump. Mahedi Hasan’s off-spin also got rid of Malan, Brook and Curran.

Shakib is economical (SAK)

Today may not have been Shakib’s best day with the ball in terms of picking wickets, but he still managed to keep things tight when England were going berserk. It doesn’t mean much in the context of this particular game since they lost anyway. There are some good bowlers on here, isn’t it?

Topley over Moeen (SAK)

Moeen Ali has just not been a good enough batter at the international level. In ODIs, he basically averages 25 with the bat and 50 with the ball. So he is not a frontline option either way. However, Tim Wigmore wrote in his piece that he is more than just his record. He also gives them flexibility in their selections.

But it made sense to back Topley on a wicket that had help for the seamers early on. Look at Topley’s first spell, which set England up. It showed why England is one of the best teams bowling in the first 10 overs. Woakes and him combined to form an extremely lethal new ball pair today, getting four wickets with the new ball.

Pak V SL

Mohammad Rizwan and the cramp (JK)

This was the biggest chase in ODI history, Pakistan’s second highest, they made two hundreds for the first time in a World Cup match and a cramp happened.

Cramp is not a funny thing when it happens to you. It is very much a hilarious thing watching a batter hit a big shot and then clutch at himself violently and fall down. It was a good innings, but we have to put it in perspective. While a cramp is tough, and really shit to have, it’s not a broken leg. You can basically continue on as long as they can stop the cramp. It’s not great and his body would be pulsating and he’d be terrified of it happening again.

But this was a great ODI innings, it was a big chase, Babar had the unfortunate wicket, but Rizwan was smart and attacked Sri Lanka’s fifth bowler's weakness and also went after the younger players. With two senior bowlers out, Sri Lanka is even younger than usual. And the old man with the dodgy body did the main part of the chase.

Kusal Mendis can hit now (JK)

Something was going very crazy in this match, almost every batter did something they do not usually do. For Kusal Mendis he did something that he almost never does. He went berserk and he is not a berzerk kinda guy, he’s more of a warm milk and blanket fella. But this is the second time in this World Cup he has played an innings that he has never done before. Not quite two firsts, but you get my point, he is scoring in a way that he never has, in terms of pace and runs. These are his first and third-quickest scores over 30.

And so I wanted to have a look at what has changed. It’s fair to say he hasn’t faced many balls in the World Cup yet. So small sample sizes are our king, but our little king is Kusal Mendis who on every line and length is scoring quicker than he was the two years before. Incredible to see someone improve their strike rate so universally. There is a chance he’s been in a John Woo movie and had his face swapped with someone else.

And if that last one was not clear enough, let me make it crystal clear, Kusal Mendis is batting at a pace that he has never even flirted with in his most optimistic dream. I do not know how to analyse someone who has made a computer game version of themselves just for a World Cup.

Form and Sadeera Samarawickrama (JK)

But Mendis isn’t even the only guy from Sri Lanka doing things he doesn’t usually do. Remember coming into this World Cup we all worried about Sri Lankan batting. Mendis we knew a lot about, no one doubted he had the talent, we just don’t see it enough. Samara-wick-rama we know very little. This is someone who made his debut in 2017, and here we are seven years later and he’s played 43 internationals, and not really impressed all that much. This was only his second Sri Lankan hundred.

And you look at his domestic numbers, there is nothing in here suggesting a massive change. He’s gone from a poor player to a slightly above-average pro. That did not look like an innings of a normal batter.

One caveat I would put on Mendis and Samarawickrama so far is that Sri Lanka have batted on two incredibly friendly batting decks.

Dropping Fakhar Zahman (JK)

Stick with me, the dropping of Fakhar Zaman is a bad selection decision. Not because he didn’t need to be moved on from. But one game into a World Cup is way too soon to move on from someone. Either they should have made the change before the tournament, or given him more games.

What does it say about you as a selector if you say this is our starting opener, and then two minutes in, say, no, sorry I was wrong?

But he had been struggling for quite a while. Incredible to think he had three hundreds in a row this year and a game into the World Cup he’s on the bench.

It’s even more amazing that his replacement would come in and bat like this.

Shafique had 80 runs coming into this match, and he more than doubled it. He looked composed, and played with control, but hit the ball very hard and set up the early part of the chase.

It is very Pakistan to make a selection error that ends up with their greatest World Cup chase from a guy who had never really done anything like this before.

Pakistan seamers have lost their length (JK)

Pakistan need their seamers in this tournament. Shaheen coming around the wicket and delivering 83MPH floaty half-volleys was terrible. Also, they went short at Mendis but kept bowling outside off stump. Most of all they couldn’t hit a length. It’s a tough wicket for bowlers, but Pakistan can’t win without their seamers being dominant. This was poor.

What’s going on with Shadab Khan’s bowling? (JK)

We need to talk about Shadab Khan’s bowling because this is in no way good. It is the opposite. But first I want to focus on two balls from his first over. The first one gets slapped away with a slog sweep. This ball is not a hard spin leggie, it’s his first over and he’s pushing the ball through a little, and this happens. So the next ball he decides to go wider, a little shorter, and he rips it. It’s a beautiful delivery. But it’s wide. Why is it out here, to stop it going over there?

From here on Shadab bowls a lot wider. He doesn’t attack the stumps much. And it looks like he is worried about the slog sweep. He is, but not quite why you would expect. I think the issue is that Shadab has lost the ability to land his hard-spun legspinner. In some of the front-on shots, he’s dragging it down. He can’t control his length when he bowls it. That is what you are seeing right now, short ball after short ball, when he tries to spin it the length gets away from him. If he does that wide, he has two fielders in the ring on the offside you can try to stop the ball.

So he is choosing to bowl short and wide, because then the damage won’t be as had. He would love to bowl leggies a bit straighter and fuller. But if he gets his length wrong here he gets pulled. But it is worse, because I think he is really just pushing a lot of balls down, and so that means there is not a lot of bounce or dip, meaning that even if he hits a good length with a straight ball, the batter can swing across it with ease.

In all, I counted 14 short balls and three full tosses. Although he did get a wicket with a short ball, so that is something. He got another one with a half-trackers against the Dutch.

The issue is I don’t know how he can fix this mid-way through a World Cup.