The 2019 cricket World Cup has been full of spectacular shots, incredible catches, but also many surprises. Some teams excelled when few people gave them a chance, whilst other sides failed to live up to their pre-tournament hype.
Not many people would have forecast New Zealand to beat India to reach the final, and it was also a shock to see quite how emphatically England beat Australia in the other semi-final.
The astonishment of those results was befitting of a World Cup that has had people on the edge of their seats since the first ball was bowled back in late May. Here, we look back at some of the standout moments of the 2019 CWC that had us all looking on in amazement.
Afghanistan on the big stage
Afghanistan came into the tournament as underdogs and left the competition after nine defeats from their nine games, but for them to be at the World Cup and play some excellent cricket at times is an incredible achievement. They had to withstand some difficult days though, especially when facing England at Old Trafford, conceding 397 runs, the highest score of the tournament.
However, in their next game, Afghanistan ran India close, and at times it looked like they might pull off one of the biggest shocks in history – but excellent bowling at the death saw Afghanistan bowled out, just 11 runs short.
Sri Lanka nearly upset the odds
Sri Lanka’s surprise defeat of England threw the competition open, giving themselves, Pakistan and Bangladesh renewed hope of claiming a top-four place. Sri Lanka struggled to 232-9 off their 50 overs, a score that England would have been favourites to chase down. However, Lasith Malinga, a long-term scourge of England’s batting, tore through the opening order, finishing with figures of 4-43 that left the number one ranked team in the world in disarray as they fell 20 runs short of the chase.
South Africa had a disappointing campaign, losing their opening three games, including a defeat to Bangladesh, which cut short their chances of World Cup glory. However, in their final game, they beat Australia and denied them top spot in the table as India beat Sri Lanka.
That meant that India finished top and would face fourth-placed New Zealand at Old Trafford in the first semi-final, whilst Australia would meet their old enemy, England, at Edgbaston. India were strong favourites with the bookmakers and cricket fans around the world to beat the Black Caps, but what unfolded over two days in Manchester surprised the watching world.
India crash out of the World Cup
India bowled well on the opening morning, restricting New Zealand to just 211-5 off 46 overs when the rain came in and stopped play. Both teams had to return to Old Trafford the following day to complete the game, with NZ adding a further 28 runs to set India a target of 240 to win, a more than achievable chase.
Kiwis had other ideas, and in an incredible spell of bowling during the opening powerplay they had reduced India to 24-4, including the crucial wicket of Virat Kohli – the shock was on. By the 35th over, India had recovered somewhat to 119-6, Dhoni and Jadeja hauling their side back into the contest. But when Jadeja was caught by NZ captain Kane Williamson for a brilliant 77, leaving India on 209-7 with 12 balls to face, momentum had swung back in favour of a Black Caps win. With India having to go for their shots, they were eventually bowled out 18 runs short to send New Zealand into their second consecutive World Cup final.
The other semi-final was more straightforward. Australia had beaten England at Lords earlier in the competition, but a rejuvenated English side sought revenge and handed it down in ruthless fashion.
Australia sent packing
Australia won the toss and elected to bat, but the early wickets of Aaron Finch and David Warner gave England the perfect start. By the end of the opening powerplay, Australia had lost three wickets, but Smith and Carey offered some resistance, putting on a century partnership until Rashid made the crucial breakthrough with the wicket of Carey that left the Aussies 117-4.
Australia were eventually bowled out for 223, setting the hosts the target of 224 to reach their first World Cup final since 1992. England’s chase was emphatic, led by Jason Roy who hit a brilliant 85 before being given out caught behind despite clearly not making any contact with the ball. That knock, and Bairstow’s 34 meant an opening partnership of 124 had laid the foundation for success.
Root and Morgan came in and finished the job in the 33rd over to give England an eight-wicket win and set up the final at Lords – England v New Zealand.