SA make runs against Sri Lanka's fourth best bowler and other guys

Afghanistan don't turn up against Bangladesh, what's up with Rashid Khan?

Is this the most fully formed South African team ever, like is this the one to finally break Richie Benaud’s curse? Can Sri Lanka get one of their best three bowlers into an actual Xi at this World Cup? Is this the most professional win in Bangladesh’s World Cup history? When do Afghanistan plan to start their World Cup campaign?

Oh, we answer almost none of these questions. But Super Saturday, which this was not, really had two very one-sided games where the better teams did well. But there was fun to be had along the way.

Rassie is South African batting (JK)

There are some batters who just get the mechanical nature of 50-over batting. Their game doesn’t even always transfer to Tests or T20. They’re rigid ODI superstars, and less effective everywhere else. Rassie can play all three formats, but like Shai Hope, Michael Bevan and England’s new debutant Sam Hain, he just gets how to make consistent high scores in ODI cricket at a weird level. He currently has the second-highest ODI batting average of all time. Yes, that is a thing.

But why I started with him, is how much his style is how South Africa play. He is not the biggest star, but he might have the biggest impact on this side.

So today was a perfect example of what I mean. This is South Africa’s runs by period. They started slow, actually, they started real quick and purposefully slowed it down. Then they stroked the ball around at a decent level in the middle, and at the end, they went crazy bananas on everyone. They probably scored a little faster today than normal in the middle.

Usually, they start slow, then they get a little bit quicker. With set batters they start to get crazy a little, then kick on further and at the death, they go nuts. Remember they are doing this all with a number seven who is a praying mantis and no batting afterwards. So to score at this level and not lose wickets is crazy.

But they can do that because their number three averages basically 60. And then over time, they have just kind of followed his pattern, but the other batters can attack a little bit more. And we know he is playing within himself because look what he does at the end. He actually scores even more than the team. But the pattern is almost exact, he just allows the others to score quicker.

What I love about today is that he scored slower than the team, but actually allowed them all to do what they did. In a team with any further batting talent down the list, you would say, he should push on. But for how this team is constructed Rassie is perfect for South Africa just as he is.

Aiden Markram’s doesn’t rotate the strike well (CS)

When de Kock scored his 100, that was probably going to be the highlight of SA’s innings. Then Rassie scored his century and that was the highlight. Aiden Markram was like: hold my klippies. He produced the fastest 100 in ODI WC history.

The first time three players have scored a century for the same team in one innings. It has only happened three times in ODI cricket.

Temba Bavuma did a Boeta Dippenaar. In 2005, Boeta Dippenaar was dismissed for 1 run while South Africa was chasing 438. The next batter in, Herschelle Gibbs, scored 175. What I did was go back and take a deep look at this. We will probably make an entire video on this, but I wanted to walk you through the innings a little bit.

He had three bad full tosses that he did nothing with, crazy to think that those were the balls he couldn't score much from in an innings this quick. It’s really crazy how often he mishits when just trying to rotate the strike, and the minute he plays a proper shot the ball flies off to the boundary. He is almost zen-like at the crease, there are batters around the world who move more play a block than he does hitting a six. The only time he moves really is to reach a ball or give himself room off the spinners.

His power is incredible, there are so few full swings in this innings but even with all the fielders out they can’t stop his half shots. And the balls he picks are the right ones. This was something I noticed with Andrew Symonds or Lance Klusener, guys with obscene natural power can wait for the right ball to come, they don’t need to go chasing it.

And yes, he still can’t rotate the strike well, but it still doesn’t matter as much as it should.

South Africa and the new ball (JK)

Hard to be negative about a team that won so easily, but what the hell was going on early for them? 94 runs in the first Ten overs. Yes, Mendis played incredibly well, but if South Africa had a plan, I couldn’t work it out. It was how Sri Lanka used to go up top, not just Sanath and Romesh, but even last World Cup they came in as one of the faster scoring teams up front. But now they’re not like this anymore.

Today was clearly different as they needed 400, and the pitch was incredible. But considering the bowling talent was still really high, does this not suggest that they should be trying to hit the ball a little more up top? Or at least Kusal Mendis should be. Because he was incredible.

All things considered, I thought Sri Lanka batted fine, it was a messy chase, but do not have the batting lineup to score totals like this. So was always going to be tough.

Sri Lanka have no bowlers (JK)

As Sri Lanka were struggling, I went and checked who had taken the most wickets for them between World Cups. The top 3 were Hasaranga, Theekshana and Chameera - three bowlers with 100 wickets at roughly 25 average and five runs an over, neither of whom was playing in this match. Madhushanka has done well in recent times, but he’s still green. Pathirana is still a work in progress and would work better in a bowling lineup that is more formed.

Wellalage is young, so today might actually work for him in the long run. But not having either Hasaranga or Theekshana around on that pitch was going to be tough. As it was for Dhanajaya de Silva who has bowled really well slotting around the star guys, but today he had to stand up. Instead, he went and fetched the ball.

I mean they all did, it was brutal. But even though they lost by heaps, clearly this was an incredible batting wicket. They passed 300 while losing loads of wickets themselves. This is now the second tournament in a row they lost heaps of bowling options. When bowling is your strength, it would be nice to see them actually show that for once.

Bit of a kick to the teeth game this one for them. But they made runs and will get Theekshana back soon.

Shakib al Hasan in World Cups (SAK)

Shakib al Hasan’s spell changed the course of the game. He played his favourite song, bowling tight lines and giving no freebies to the set openers. He dried up the flow of runs, which made the batters take more risks against him. We know that he’s always been a quality middle-overs operator because of his economical nature. But since 2021, he’s been a pretty handy option in the first 10 overs. He’s bowled 34 overs in 20 innings and picked up 7 wickets at an economy of 4.21 and an average of 20.4.

Shakib’s 2019 World Cup campaign often goes under the radar because Bangladesh did not make it to the top 4. But he’s been around in ODIs since 2006, and this is now his 5th World Cup. How good is he compared to the other all-time greats in World Cups?

Look at the other two spin all-rounders on this - Yuvraj Singh and Sanath Jayasuriya. That is an elite company. Actually, look at the entire list, there are three World Cup-winning captains on this, two World Cup players of the tournament and Kallis.

His ODI career is often underappreciated with all the politics going on in Bangladesh cricket, and his own personal issues around behaviour and the suspension for fixing. But as ODI players go, we haven’t had many like him.

Afghanistan's steady start (SAK)

Afghanistan were a below-par batting team in the Powerplay in the lead-up to the World Cup. Today, they were 47/0 in the first 7.3 overs. Bangladesh bowlers struggled a bit with their line and lengths at the start, giving width and bowling a tad too full at times. We saw some brilliant drives and punches by the Afghanistan opening duo.

But Shakib al Hasan’s first over in the Powerplay turned the tide in Bangladesh’s favour. He got the all-important wicket of Ibrahim Zadran - the most in-form Afghanistan batter coming into the World Cup. He tossed it up and Zadran got a top edge to deep square leg, as he tried to sweep. Bangladesh conceded just 3 runs and took a wicket in the final 15 deliveries of the Powerplay.

Certainly not the way Afghanistan would have wanted it to end after that start.

The impact of Mehidy's economical spell (SAK)

Mehidy Hasan Miraz went for 9 runs off his first over, mainly because he bowled a 5wides off the 2nd delivery he bowled. In the 5 overs after that, he went for just 5 runs and dismissed Shahidi, who could only score 3 runs off the 22 deliveries he faced against the offie. This meant the batters tried to take on Shakib and the pacers, which did not end up well for Afghanistan. Towards the back end of the Afghanistan innings, he got Rashid and Mujeeb, cleaning up the tail.

Mehidy bats everywhere. Liton Das. Shanto. And the NRR thing (SAK)

Bangladesh have used Mehidy basically everywhere in the top 9 batting positions (except number 4) in his ODI career. He did get away with a couple of chances in this innings but his presence made sure that there weren’t further hiccups in the run chase.

Liton Das has scored 198 runs in his last 10 innings. He was tried at numbers 3 & 4, and even that didn’t help. His case seems very similar to Fakhar Zaman's - they are both very attacking batters but they seem to be in this weird rut of low scores. It’s a long tournament, so they have a chance to catch up.

Najmul Shanto continues to do awesome things in ODIs this year. He has a really solid case for being one of the most improved ODI players in the world. He looked very assured in his stay at the crease.

We are nitpicking here, but Bangladesh batted too slowly even after the game was in their bag. They went from 83/1 in 17 overs to 143/3 in 33 overs. That means they scored under 4 runs per over for 15 overs when they just needed another 74 runs with 9 wickets in hand.

Now you might bring up the first-innings collapse and how it was important to secure the win first. But really, these are the games which make a difference when it comes to the NRR. You’ve got to take more risks, especially with the likes of Mahmudullah batting at number 8.

Afg struggle in the middle (SAK)

Their most in-form batter, Ibrahim Zadran, was out in the powerplay. Zadran and Gurbaz anchoring through the middle overs is what made Afghanistan a respectable batting team in this World Cup cycle. Rahmat Shah also scores runs, but he does it slowly. Here’s a list of all the top 6 batters since the last World Cup.

Now being reliant on the top 3 isn’t abnormal. Even the top teams have had such cases. But if the rest of your batters are struggling to play out the 50 overs without one of the top 3 batters batting till the end, that is a cause for concern.

The Afghanistan middle & lower order fell like a pack of cards. After Gurbaz’s dismissal, they could only add another 44 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. They were bowled out with 12.4 overs to spare.

Rashid Khan vs top teams in ODIs (SAK)

Rashid Khan is the best T20 spinner in the world, maybe even the MVP of the format at the moment. But is he as good in ODIs? When we think of Rashid Khan in the 2019 World Cup, we really just remember Eoin Morgan’s onslaught. But there’s more to it. He was by far the worst spinner in that tournament. It could very well be a one-off, and he might pick up a lot more wickets this time around. The fact is that he doesn’t get to play top teams as often as his peers.

Here’s a split of Rashid Khan’s career. Against the lower-seed teams, his record is outstanding. No surprises there. His record completely holds up against average batting lineups like Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh. But he hasn’t done too well against the top sides, because he basically faced most of them in the World Cup last time.

This World Cup will be important for Rashid Khan the ODI bowler. He’s going to play on spin-friendly wickets in Chennai and Lucknow, so you’d expect his record against the top sides to probably see a mean reversion this time.