Watching England’s cricket team is probably as frustrating to the gatherings in the corner pubs as watching that country’s soccer side. You never know on any given day what you’re going to get.
This Cricket World Cup has produced a near-loss to the Netherlands, a loss to Ireland, and the thrilling tie against India. And on Sunday they added an improbable win over South Africa in Chennai, India.
The Proteas were expected to overcome England’s morning total of 171. But their reply ended at 165, giving England the six-run win.
And England had to fight for that total. After losing Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen in the first two overs and Ian Bell soon after, Ian Trott (52 runs) and Ravi Bopara (60) settled the side down with a 99-run partnership.
“I didn’t expect to be walking out at 15-for-3,” Bopara said. “But Trott and I realized that the wicket was not easy. I was surprised by the amount of turn and we knew that it would be tough when chasing.”
But that was pretty much it for their fun as that lost their remaining six wickets for 57. Imran Tahir had a nice innings for South Africa taking four wickets, with Robin Peterson responsible for the early damage with the first three wickets.
Hashim Amla (42) and Graeme Smith (22) formed an opening partnership of 63 and AB de Villiers added 25. Then came the grinding noise in the motor.
De Villiers’ dismissal began a string of three wickets for no runs and four wickets for three. Within three overs, 124-for-3 became 127- for-7. Morne van Wyk and Dale Steyn got the total to 160 with a good late partnership, but Stuart Broad closed the door with the final two of his four total wickets to give England the two points.
“We knew that chasing would be hard on this wicket,” Smith, the South African captain, said. “We now have a week to prepare for the India game and it will be hard for us as the competition progresses.”
Meanwhile, Ireland followed up its win over England with an impressive showing against India. But the match turned into the Yuvraj Singh show.
The Indian batsman, who dabbles part-time in the bowling end, took a career-high five wickets for 31 then turned around and made 50 to spark India to its five-wicket victory. It was the first all-around performance of this kind in World Cup history.
William Porterfield (75) and Niall O’Brien (46) put together a 113-run partnership, leading to Ireland’s total of 207. When Trent Johnston caught a poor shot from Virender Sehwag early in India’s innings and celebrated with a repeat of the chicken dance he did at the 2007 tournament, the capacity house in Bangalore had reason to be concerned.
But Singh’s innings, coupled with an explosive late-innings burst by Yusuf Pathan — including consecutive sixes to wake up the crowd — contributed to its 46-over work of 210-for-5.