The bad discipline that the All Blacks must eradicate before RWC 2019

Make no mistake, the return of Liam Squire in the Highlanders at the end of their Super Rugby campaign. The 28-year-old player brings to all the players for whom he plays are extremely valuable. He made sure that people recognize his value when he returns to the field for the first time in 2019.

Needed to earn bonus points to keep their hopes of playing, the underdeveloped New South Welshmen were victims of the 23-test behemoth.

Which was in full flight while the Highlanders stormed a match against 49- 12 at Rugby Park in Invercargill, who finally secured a place in the quarterfinals of the competition. Sports fanatics can book Rugby World Cup Tickets online to enjoy its stunning performances.

The bad discipline that the All Blacks must eradicate before RWC 2019
The bad discipline that the All Blacks must eradicate before RWC 2019

Squire’s ability to carry the ball was clearly visible, with Mack Mason and the opposite wing. His critical tackling of opposition players in recent years has reinforced his skills as a true test performer, and his fierce defensive skills have also been prominent in his return from injury.

It was an intense tension of 40 minutes between the two rivals of the South Island, and despite the fact that they were clearly the outsiders against a team pursuing its third consecutive Super Rugby crown. The Highlanders were always within reach from their neighbours as they walked halfway to the hangars -time just behind 17-14.

However, it was Squire’s execution in the tackle that was the deadliest for his own camp, instead of the hosts.

The bad discipline that the All Blacks must eradicate before RWC
The bad discipline that the All Blacks must eradicate before RWC

When Squire came back the match was almost over, the Crusaders controlling and leading to 31-14. And a second Richie Mo’unga attempting a mistake from Marty Banks in the last 10 minutes gave. The Highlanders a score of a 38-14 defeat to eliminate them from the competition in the quarterfinals.

It’s hard enough to play against the Crusaders, but it’s very difficult to have to do it with a man down. This man is a star striker All Black, against a group of attacks almost entirely All Black like the Crusaders, at some point in the game.

This is not the first time Squire received a yellow card for his actions against the Crusaders in the playoffs, as he committed the same offence against Mo’unga five minutes after the last quarter-final of the rivals in Christchurch there is two years old.

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Bairstow and Roy England’s pyrotechnic innovators

There was an intellect of predictability as Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow recurrently rattled Afghanistan’s bowlers to the boundary in England’s final warm-up match before the ICC Cricket World Cup. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling acts of their favorite players in this year’s contest. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Bairstow and Roy England’s pyrotechnic innovators
Bairstow and Roy England’s pyrotechnic innovators

This has become the norm for England’s pacesetters, whose no-holds-barred approach has been contributory to their team’s recent success.

Each of Afghanistan’s first three bowlers had their first delivery hit for four as Roy and Bairstow raced to their fifty partnerships in 32 balls, setting the platform for a crushing nine-wicket win secured with 32.3 overs to spare.

Bairstow’s dismissal in the eighth over, when the score was on 77, did nothing to stem the flow, Roy finishing unbeaten on 89 in a 46-ball innings which included 11 fours and four sixes.

“It was like T10 cricket,” said Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib with a wry smile in the post-match press conference. He is not the first skipper to be left scratching his head at how to stop England’s explosive duo.

The brutality and crispness of their stroke play immediately stand out, but it’s the consistency of the Roy-Bairstow combination that is truly exceptional. In 26 ODI innings opening together, their average partnership is 64.72 – the highest of any openers in the history of ODI cricket (minimum 20 innings). They have seven century and seven half-century partnerships at that time.

Eoin Morgan, who has recovered from a dislocated finger and was ready to bat if required against Afghanistan, knows how vital his opening partnership is to England’s chances at the World Cup, not only in terms of the runs they score but the marker they lay down for the rest of the team.

“When Jason is hitting it as well as that, not only does it impose our game on the opposition, it feeds right through the changing room,” said Morgan after the victory over Afghanistan. “The authoritative nature in which he plays builds confidence. And Jonny is the same. The two of them at the top of the order impose themselves on the game when they get an opportunity.”

It’s a formula that is reaping rewards for England, who approach their showpiece opener against South Africa at The Oval on 30 May sitting top of the ODI rankings, making them many people’s favorites to lift the trophy. It’s an unfamiliar position for a team that has only qualified for the knockout rounds once since reaching the final in 1992 and crashed out in the group stage four years ago – but one that Morgan is more than comfortable with.

“It’s a huge compliment to go into the tournament as favorites. The pressure is quite a huge opportunity. I’d much rather be going in as favorites than not even be considered contenders. [Before the last World Cup] we were constantly trying to find a formula that might work in the group stages. We had a lot of meetings and chats about how we could get better. Then practice on Wednesday before the match on Thursday.”

Whatever happens at the main event, it’s been a remarkable four-year journey for Morgan and his side, who in 2015 were criticized for a conservative approach to batting which was out of step with the modern game. Now they’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible, with Roy and Bairstow leading the charge.

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Angelo Mathews said handling pressure will be key for Sri Lanka

The former Sri Lanka skipper, Angelo Mathews, believes that overcoming pressure situations will be his team’s biggest challenge at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling acts of their favorite players in this year’s contest. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Sri Lanka, the 1996 World Cup champions and two-time runners-up, come into the tournament as the No.9 ranked ODI side. They have won only six of the 22 one-day internationals they have played since January 2018. Adding to ask is that several members of their World Cup squad are returning after a spell on the sidelines. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne himself, until last week, hadn’t played an ODI since the last World Cup.

Angelo Mathews said handling pressure will be key for Sri Lanka
Angelo Mathews said handling pressure will be key for Sri Lanka

The experienced Mathews, however, urged his side to put the past behind them and “enjoy the moment”.  “The biggest challenge will be in overcoming pressure situations,” Matthews told the ICC. “Quite a lot of us have played in England, so we know the conditions. But handling the pressure and the situations well is going to be the challenge.”

Matthews, who had captained Sri Lanka during the last edition of the multi-nation tournament, advised his teammates to embrace the challenge and express themselves with freedom.

“In a big tournament like this, you’ve got to play with freedom and embrace it, rather than putting too much pressure on yourself. Yes, it’s a World Cup, you have to perform well to win it, but at the same time, you have to embrace the challenge. If you put a lot of pressure on yourself, it adds to your burden. But try and embrace it, look at it as an opportunity to perform, to do something better for the country,” he explained.

The 31-year old veteran found himself in and out of Sri Lanka’s ODI squad last year, with concerns about fitness and form. However, he appears to have turned it around, hitting two half-centuries and one ton in his last five 50-over games, including 64 in Sri Lanka’s warm-up defeat against South Africa.

In recent months, Matthews has animatedly celebrated his batting milestones, especially in Tests, his vigor directed at his critics. But the all-rounder insisted he was not at the World Cup to prove a point about his place to anybody.

“Each game is an opportunity to better your own performance. If you do that, the team will benefit,” he said.

Matthews, who is currently Sri Lanka’s second most capped player in ODIs after Lasith Malinga, aims to pass his experience to the younger players in the team.

“My ambition is to perform and be consistent. For that, I have to look after myself in terms of physical fitness and give my absolute best … and make sure I pass on my experience to the younger players so they benefit as well,” he said.

Sri Lanka plays their second warm-up match against Australia on Monday, 27 May, before they begin their campaign against New Zealand in Cardiff on 1 June.

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Shadab khan said Leg Spin crucial to CWC success

In the modern age of uber-talented batsmen relentlessly unfurling scoops, sweeps and slogs to pepper boundaries, there is one rare art that still proves a bowling attack’s great equalizer in one-day international cricket. In previous eras, wrist-spin was the scarcest of skills, that mysterious knack bestowed upon only the gifted few. Come this summer, however, it will be showcased like never before, with 12 operating at the Cricket World Cup and only two teams – Bangladesh and West Indies not unleashing a frontline option. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling acts of their favorite players in this year’s contest. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

A quality leg-spinner is, and always will be, worth their weight in gold, the craftsman who can bamboozle and stem the tide that increasingly dictates the flow of an international limited-overs encounter. Their ability to operate at multiple stages of an innings, easing the burden on seamers tasked with facing ever-more-skilled batsmen armed only with two new balls that don’t often reach the point of reverse swing, is as critical as it is desperately sought

Shadab khan said Leg Spin crucial to CWC success
Shadab khan said Leg Spin crucial to CWC success

Of those, one of the most exciting is Pakistan’s 20-year-old Shadab Khan, a bundle of tricks and treats who boasts 47 wickets across 34 games at a tick over 29. But just why are he and contemporaries such as England’s Adil Rashid – who has taken more wickets than any bowler since the previous World Cup – so difficult to face?

“Because wrist-spinners spin every way,” Shadab tells the ICC. “If there is spin there it’s very difficult to play if you bowl in good areas, and it’s very difficult to play on any surface. That’s why it’s important. With a leg-spinner, yes you may score runs, but he is a wicket-taker. You’re always looking for wickets so that’s why we’re always in the game.”

With run rates above six an over now almost a formality in most encounters, the task of bowling groups have evolved, from control to conquer. The weight of runs may be impossible to stop, but chipping in with wickets can at least manage the damage.

“It’s a very important role,” says Shadab. “With batting [friendly] tracks the par score will be 300 so, if you take wickets in the middle overs, you have a good chance to win games. On these batting surfaces, we have to take wickets, otherwise, they’ll score 350-plus, so if you take the wickets you can contain them under 300. To contain them under 300 is very good.”

Such is the depth of tweakers in the tournament that there could even be some internal competition among the likes of Shadab and Rashid. For Pakistan’s star, however, merely being on the field is a relief, having missed the five-match one-day international series against England through illness. After coming through 10 overs in the warm-up game versus Afghanistan, he feels fresh and ready to fire.

“I feel better,” he says. “I’m in a very good rhythm. I practiced one or two days and bowled very well yesterday so I’m good.”

His return is a welcome one for Pakistan, who followed up a 4-0 loss to England with a warm-up defeat against Afghanistan. Their final pre-World Cup practice, against Bangladesh, was abandoned due to rain. But Shadab has no doubts a team renowned for being able to deliver on the big stage – as evidenced by their Champions Trophy victory on these shores two years ago – will be ready when the showpiece commences.

“In the England series,” he adds, “every game we were close. In the crunch situation, we didn’t win but we played very good cricket, competitive cricket. Our batting is in good form, our bowling hasn’t performed so far but, if you take one or two wickets, then they can slip up.”

Tasked with delivering those scalps will be their young twirler, the leg-spinning X-factor capable of altering the course of bat-dominated occasions.

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Hashim Amla confident of doing well at the CWC19

Hashim Amla Skilled South Africa batsman has not been at his best recently but is self-assured of turning things around at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling acts of their favorite players in this year’s contest. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Hashim Amla confident of doing well at the CWC19
Hashim Amla confident of doing well at the CWC19

Amla’s form has been a substance of some concern for SA ahead of the CWC. Since the start of 2018, he has scored 529 runs from 16 innings at 35.26 – sub-par when likened to his overall career average of 49.74.

But the 36-year-old is sure he can find his best, once the CWC gets happening with SA taking on hosts ENG in the tournament opener on 30 May. Some of that belief stalks from the fact that he has typically done well in ENG, as underlined by his ODI average of 56.73 on these shores.

“I am hungrier than ever before, there is no doubt about that,” said Amla. “I have been blessed to have this shirt for a while but the time off has made me want to come back stronger. This is my third CWC so I know what it is all about.”

“I have a strong record in ENG and I have always enjoyed coming here. We have played ENG recently and had some success against them; I have done well against them too.”

South Africa, although placed No.3 on the ICC ODI Team rankings, hasn’t been widely talked up of as one of the favorites to lift the title this time around. Amla feels the reduced prospects will advantage the team.

“This year, you don’t see the same big names and that is why the focus is not on us but that has some good in it,” he said.

“There has not been much chat about us winning in contrast to the past but I don’t think that played a part in how we have done. At the end of the day, we always gave our best and played to win. The fact there has not been a lot of chat at this CWC means there is less hope but in the side, we think we can do well.”

This year, I am very happy not to be reserved by anyone. We know how good we are so we just want to come and enjoy it. We have some players who will be playing in their last CWC and then some who are feeling it for the first time, so we just want to have some fun.

SA will look to tune things up in their warm-up games against Sri Lanka and West Indies on 24 May and 26 May correspondingly, before their movement gets underway in the tournament opener against ENG at The Oval.

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Maxwell intense on being a containing bowler

Glenn Maxwell Aussies all-rounder has opened up about his role with the ball, saying that he is not deterred about getting hit as long as he’s delivering the right kind of balls. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling acts of their favorite players in this year’s contest. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Maxwell intense on being a containing bowler
Maxwell intense on being a containing bowler

Maxwell has begun to take on a more protuberant role with the ball recently, as showed during Aussies’ ODI series in India and in the UAE against Pakistan, where he bowled 64 overs across nine innings. He is now set to be a key supporting option at the CWC19.

Spinner Adam Zampa will be Aussies’s first excellent expert rotator, and with Maxwell in the form of his life with the bat, he is likely to be Aussies’s go to the subordinate spinner, with his off-spin, which could leave no room for Nathan Lyon.

“Try not to get hit for six most of the time,” Maxwell said teasingly on his role with the ball. “For me, I suppose, a lot of the time that I bowl, I just try to limit the border balls. As long as I’m doing that, if they hit some good shots off my bowling, I’m not too deterred. If I’m limiting the boundary balls and giving myself the best accidental to squeeze a few dot balls, bowl a couple of tight overs, it might create a bit of pressure at the other end.”

I have prospects on myself to finish off matches and be the guy who stands up there at the end of the match and making sure that we win the match. Glenn Maxwell

Next, to the India and UAE tours, Maxwell went over to England in its place of IPL and used the time to ready himself for the CWC and the Ashes series that follows it. His county spell included six Lists A match with Lancashire at the One-Day Cup, in which he took eight wickets while maintaining an economy rate of 5.62: pretty handy numbers for a part-time spinner.

“I think it’s vital for me to just bowl in a partnership with someone,” he said. “That’s perhaps the clearness I have in my role, and it’s something I did a bit in Dubai [against Pakistan] and India, and started to get a few more overs, a bit more consistency… To have that continue into my time at Lancashire, where I got plenty of time at the bowling crease, you get that rhythm, you get that feel of the ball coming out consistently. You need that as a part-time bowler, to have that consistency of time at the crease and get a few of the cobwebs out, I suppose.”

Maxwell has also added layers to his batting, presentation an element of calculation that was before missing. In 13 ODIs this year, Maxwell has made 458 runs, averaging 41.63 – markedly higher than his career average of 33.33 – and striking at 126.51. He indicated that his role at the CWC would require him to show more such flexibility.

“I supposing my role in the side is to adapt to whatever start we have, whether it be we get off to a flyer or we’ve lost a few early wickets. It’s just to adapt to whatever I get thrown into,” he said.

I just want to have an impact on games in a really positive way and be able to control the back end.

“I have expectations on myself to finish off games and be the guy who’s standing there at the end of the game and making sure that we win the game.”

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Skippers guess most closely fought CWC ever

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is officially up and running and all ten captains are anticipating ‘the best tournament in history’. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling performances of their favorite players in this year’s tournament. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Captains meet the press one week before the tournament starts with England against South Africa. World number one hosts are the team to watch, according to visiting skippers

The Film Shed in London’s trendy east end played host to the official captain’s media launch of the 2019 tournament on Thursday afternoon.

And with hosts England kicking off the tournament in exactly a week’s time at the Oval against South Africa, the time for talking is almost over.

All ten teams will play each other in a new-look round-robin stage, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals – a change in format that makes this year’s edition more competitive than ever.

Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever
Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever

And Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli, and the ten tournament skippers can’t wait to get started, with a series of warm-up matches scheduled around the country in the next week.

England skipper Morgan said: “I don’t think anyone is head and shoulders above anyone else.

“These are the ten best teams in the world, it will be extraordinarily competitive and some quality cricket will be played so we are really looking forward to it. Every captain sitting here would lose their left leg to play in a World Cup final at the home of cricket.”

It’s something every one of us would have dreamed of as a kid.

“We are as best prepared as we can be. We just want to play that first game now.”

India skipper Virat Kohli added: “England in their conditions is the most strong side in this tournament.

“But all the teams so strong and well balanced and the fact we have to play everyone once, I think this will be the most competitive World Cup that anyone will have seen.”

Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever
Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever

Once it gets underway particularly against England and further on for the Ashes. The crowd will play a part but that is expected everywhere in the world.

“We have plans in place for that, and their squad input and output in terms of the runs they have been making has been fantastic.”

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis is hoping to become the first man to lead the Proteas to a World Cup crown, after four semi-final appearances.

“We are all really excited to try out this new tournament, to play every once I think is great,” he said.

Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever
Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever

The way we use our resources will be vital, but every team has X-factor bowlers that will have a big say in the successes of the side.

“I think the bowlers will win it, the teams still in it towards the end of the tournament will be the teams that have done really well with the ball.”

Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed – who led Pakistan when they won the ICC Champions Trophy in England in 2017 – is feeling confident.

“All the teams are really balanced. I think people are going to watch some great cricket,” he said.

Since winning the World Cup in 1992, making the final in 1999 here in England and the Champions Trophy in 2017, we go well in England so we are confident we will do well and challenge.

Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever
Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever

New Zealand was runners up four years ago and skipper Kane Williamson hopes his Black Caps side can go one better.

He said: “There are a few guys in the squad from the last World Cup which is great.”

But four years in between means there are a lot of new players.

“There has been of talk about rankings, favorites, underdogs but what stands out is how balanced it is. Which means anything can happen on the day which is so exciting.”

West Indies skipper Jason Holder added: It’s a very exciting format. In the past, you could play five or six games, and that could be it.

To play every side is great for us. We worked hard with the qualifiers to get here, which means it is the top ten in the world, we want to play them all and give ourselves a shot.

“The team that wins will definitely deserve it.”

Sri Lanka’s new captain Dimuth Karunaratne said: We have great experience in England, we came here early to get used to the conditions and we are in good shape, hoping to do our best.

“It is not going to be easy though. We are confident and taking it each game one by one.”

Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever
Skippers guess most closely fought CWC19 ever

Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib added: “We are excited to be here, in front of the cricket world and to play the best teams.

To present Afghanistan to the world is great and we are looking forward to it.

“There will be a huge audience at home in all the different provinces. Cricket is not just a sport now, in Afghanistan it has become something else.”

And finally Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza is confident his side can spring a surprise.

We have got a great bunch of boys, a good mix of seniors and juniors coming on.

Cricket is a game that anyone on their day can beat anybody. If we start well we can hang in there.

“We are confident that we can go well, but a lot depends on the start.”

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Shane Williams to Welcome the CWC to Cardiff at the Ultimate Delivery

The day before the first CWC game at Cardiff Wales Stadium, the city is playing host to a unique giant cricket hook relay and are calling for members of the community cricket and sporting followers alike to take part in this unique festivity event. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling performances of their favorite players in this year’s tournament. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Shane Williams to Welcome the CWC to Cardiff at the Ultimate Delivery
Shane Williams to Welcome the CWC to Cardiff at the Ultimate Delivery

The CWC is calling on the people of Cardiff to come and get complicated in a giant cricket relay on 31 May in the festivity of the first match of the tournament in Cardiff the following day.

Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams to take part in the record-breaking relay and support contestants along the way.

‘The Final Delivery’ will be hosted by CWC ambassador and Welsh rugby legend, Shane Williams. Freshly returned from taking part in the ‘Everest Rugby Challenge’ where he set a world record for the maximum match of rugby ever played, Shane is looking to break another record but in the sport of cricket: the world record for the longest cricket relay.

Starting at Cardiff Central Train Station the official game ball will go around to the Millennium Stadium, flight on the water taxi to Cardiff Bay, work its way through the Urdd Eisteddfod, catch a rickshaw back into town, pass through the arcades, up the High Street, into the Castle and out to Bute Park, journey the River Taff and inward into Cardiff Wales Stadium to be received by representatives of the New Zealand and Sri Lanka cricket sides.

Members of the public, cricket clubs, schools, and the general public will help deliver the ball as it passes along the route.

On arrival at Cardiff Wales Stadium there will be a celebration event where our Ultimate Delivery fielders can test their cricket skills, have their photo taken with the CWC trophy and have the chance to meet Shane Williams and Glamorgan County Cricket Club, players.

Rugby legend, Shane Williams said: “I am really excited to be taking part in The Ultimate Delivery and testing out my cricketing skills. I hope we can get as many people of Cardiff as possible to take part, set another record and have some great fun. What a great celebration for the CWC coming to Cardiff and Wales.”

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Peter Bradbury, said, Cardiff, is hugely proud to be welcoming the CWC to the city and to have the ball arriving in this record-breaking style with The Final Delivery will be a great knowledge for all those intricate.

“Cardiff has a strong sporting and cricket heritage and we hope ‘The Ultimate Delivery’ event will engage both the local community and traveling supporters of the Cricket World Cup. We look forward to welcoming sports fans of all ages to take part, creating a truly memorable event for the entire city,” he concluded.

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Hashim Amla speaks to the media ahead of CWC19

Hashim Amla boasts more than 18,000 international runs but He is hungry to show he still has what it takes at his third ICC Cricket World Cup. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling performances of their favorite players in this year’s tournament. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Hashim Amla speaks to the media ahead of CWC19
Hashim Amla speaks to the media ahead of CWC19

The South African batsman has been a backbone of the Proteas’ set-up for more than a decade, with 55 international centuries to his name, but a loss of form put his place in Ottis Gibson’s squad in danger on the eve of the tournament.

The right-hander missed the one-day series against Sri Lanka earlier this year, with Aiden Markram promoted to open the batting alongside vice-captain Quinton de Kock in a series the Proteas won 3-2.

Amla also missed out on the IPL and that break has refocused his mind and motivated him to sharpen his game in a bid to prove a point.

“Things happen that you don’t anticipate and I did not anticipate how things have gone recently,” he said.

“But I am a firm believer that when something happens, there is some good in it. I have had time away and now I am really looking back to wearing the green and gold again.”

I am hungrier than ever before, there is no doubt about that. I have been blessed to have this shirt for a while but the time off has made me want to come back stronger.

“This is my third [ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup] so I know what it is all about. I have a strong record in England and I have always enjoyed coming here.”

At 36, this is likely to be Amla’s last chance of lifting the ICC Cricket World Cup. His previous two appearances have ended in heartbreak at the hand of New Zealand – who beat them in the quarter-finals in 2011 and semi-finals four years later.

However, the attention on South Africa is less intense this year – with England the current top-ranked side.

The two teams will do battle in the opening game at The Oval and Amla believes their underdog status will suit South Africa.

“It is the best first game we could have asked for. We have played England recently and had some success against them, I have done well against them too,” he said.

This year, you don’t see the same big names and that is why the focus is not on us but that has some good in it.

There has not been much chat about us winning in comparison to the past but I don’t think that played a part in how we performed.

“At the end of the day, we always gave our best and played to win. The fact there has not been a lot of chat at this World Cup means there is less expectation but in the team, we think we can do well.”

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Resurgent Wahab determined to redeem himself at the CWC19

After earning an astonishing call-up to Pakistan’s team for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, fast bowler Wahab Riaz wants to make his chance count. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling performances of their favorite players in this year’s tournament. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Resurgent Wahab determined to redeem himself at the CWC19
Resurgent Wahab determined to redeem himself at the CWC19

Wahab hasn’t played one-day cricket for Pakistan since the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. The left-arm even had his work ethic questioned by the head coach Mickey Arthur, who had criticized Wahab for having lost his match-winning skills.

But after reviving his form in the Pakistan Cup, the country’s domestic 50-over competition, where he was named Bowler of the Series for his season-topping 10 wickets in five matches, Wahab supposed that he was always fully prepared for the CWC, though his chances of making the team had appeared to be slim.

“I had been having dreams that I am meeting Mickey Arthur and Sarfraz Ahmad. Sometimes they would reject me and sometimes they would pick me.” Wahab Riaz

“I even had dreams I was meeting Mickey Arthur and Sarfaraz Ahmad, and sometimes they would pick me, and reject me at other times,” he said. “Around ten days ago, I had a dream that Inzi Bhai [Inzamam-ul-Haq, the chief selector] gave me a call and told me that I have been selected and this is my last chance. It was exactly how it happened when I was called and told about the decision. It is nothing less than make or break for a player who gets an opportunity to play in the CWC.”

Wahab’s selection was also partially a result of Pakistan’s bowlers performing poorly in the series against England. In three of the four completed games, Pakistan allowed England to make in excess of 350, and on one other occasion, failed to defend a score of 340. It prompted the Inzamam-ul-Haq-led selection committee to turn to the left arm’s experience – he also had a stint with Derbyshire in the T20 Blast.

“I have worked hard and matured as a bowler in the last two years,” Wahab said. “I have learned a lot and the results are visible to everyone. You can’t judge anyone on the basis of one match. I am a bowler and there are chances that I may concede 60, 70 or 80 runs, and it has happened in the past as well. But that doesn’t mean that I lost my skills and ability.”

Wahab was Pakistan’s most successful bowler at the previous edition of the CWC, in 2015, with 16 wickets from seven matches. He produced a match-winning performance – 54*, followed by a spell of 4/45 – in a must-win game against Zimbabwe. In the quarterfinals against Australia, he delivered one of the great World Cup spells, dismissing David Warner and Michael Clarke, and then stunning Shane Watson with a series of short balls.

Reminiscing that spell, Wahab said: “Since the pitches are placid and conditions are batting-conducive, it becomes necessary to have an aggressive approach, or else the batsmen will dominate you. If a batsman demeans me, I will do what I did that day.”

An expert at the reverse swing, Wahab reckoned the skill would be key in English conditions.

 “Variations and reverse swing are key in the death overs. With the conditions dry and wickets hard in England, there will be a reverse swing and the team that does it better will have the advantage. I have expertise in reverse swing, so I will try to restrict the flow of runs in the final few overs.”

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