England are also through to the semi-finals. A handful of percussive mid-sized innings and some hearty bowling were enough to dispatch New Zealand.
Jason Roy was still there, continuing his ill-advised experiments with flips and flicks, and Adil Rashid was back. England’s template was therefore pretty much back in place after a brief reversion to darker days for that Bangladesh match.
The home team don’t necessarily expect great things from their batsmen. They really just hope that at least a couple of them will come good and that the rest don’t waste too much time.
Roy is at least fulfilling the second part of that – although with the forced and unforced absences of Chris Woakes and David Willey having grown the team an actual tail, they won’t want too many others to join him. We do however suspect that should Roy revert to trying to hit the ball in front of him, all will be well.
For his part, Rashid gave the team stumpings off wides. A lot of England fans remain suspicious of this kind of thing, but when batsmen find life predictable and predictable is enough that they’ll be able to chase down your score, you need to make things unpredictable.
The range of possibilities when the ball leaves Rashid’s hand is great. And if for some reason Eoin Morgan were to feel that this were disadvantageous on any given occasion, he could always bowl someone else.
Better to have the hip flask in the desk drawer and not quaff from it than to find yourself enduring a difficult day at the office with no perfectly healthy liquid coping mechanism at your disposal – that’s what we always say/slur.
That is the only half-decent explanation for this catch.
Far and away our favourite part of this footage is seeing Bruce Oxenford visibly embarking upon a gasp towards the end.
Even as the ball was en route to bat, Latham was off and running. We don’t know how many times he stopped time and rewound it before he got this right.
We’d guess one million times.
Pakistan had already lost six wickets in the final session of the match when Kane Williamson brought forth The Great Neil Wagner. Three ducks later, the series was over.
This isn’t going to help Wagner’s reputation one bit. How the hell are you supposed to run in all day when you keep bringing the opposition’s innings to a close.
Maybe that’s why our man waited until right at the death before joining his team-mates in the rampant wicket-taking. He wanted every opportunity to run in for the majority of the day, but with no play tomorrow, he also knew he had a responsibility to deliver a Test win.
Neil Wagner: he maximises his opportunities for in-running, but without compromising New Zealand’s chances of victory.
India are to play New Zealand in the third Test in Indore despite someone somewhere reporting that they wouldn’t.
The Indian Express spoke to “a senior board official” who said the BCCI’s bank accounts had been frozen at the recommendation of a court-appointed panel set up to look into its operations.
The panel in question, the Lodha Committee, has since said that this is – and we’re paraphrasing here – a great big heap of bollocks. It has in fact ordered that just two specific payments be halted; payments that are nothing to do with hosting international cricket matches.
If you’re a senior board official at the BCCI who’s prone to talking outright cobblers, why not get in touch with us here at King Cricket? We’ll publish owt, we will.
Remember when India’s batsmen used to make double hundreds all the time? Captains routinely doubled up as doctors in the first innings, declaring the innings closed and the pitches dead (even if a certain zombie joie de vivre often manifested itself in the form of turn on day five.)
It’s not like that nowadays. Indian fans no longer find themselves spending four days explaining to irate foreigners that a match isn’t destined to be a draw; that things might move on swiftly when the pitch starts to crumble. Nowadays they have to defend their pitches for doing too much, too soon.
Someone, somewhere apparently imposed some standard where only Australian-style pitches were considered acceptable for Test cricket. Everything else was wrong, evil and ‘doctored’. It seems this game that is defined by variety could only properly be showcased on one particular type of pitch. Diversity painted from the narrowest of palettes.
Is a turning pitch a bad pitch? Of course not. It is good to see batsmen having to work for their runs – and if more were available in the recent Test between India and New Zealand than some others on those shores in recent times, then a least no-one reached three figures.
That, to us, can often be a sign of a good match. Runs retained their value against the more meaningful currency of wickets. Everything mattered.
Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes were the actual heroes for England, but this is Twenty20, so like everyone else, let’s instead turn our attention to Jason Roy – a batsman.
Roy used both edges of his bat and quite often the middle. Crucially, he also abandoned the moronic belief that it is somehow beneficial for the side that he play himself in and started hitting from what some people call ‘the get-go’ but which we, as a Briton, call ‘the outset’.
Turns out Roy doesn’t need to give himself time. Maybe he is a robot – a roybot, if you will.
Roy’s approach achieves two things. It means England score a bunch of runs and it also means the batsmen who come after him can play with a modicum of control. Not that they necessarily do. When the adrenaline’s pumping, it can be hard to deliberately take singles.
They got enough of them though (plus a few boundaries). They’re into the World T20 final.
We find ourself humming Roscoe H Spellgood rather a lot at the minute. This is because of the sheer number of match previews saying that England have come a long way in a short time.
It strikes us that if you go to the trouble of being as bad as England were at the 50-over World Cup, you do leave yourself plenty of room for improvement. What would be truly miraculous would be a half-decent team improved by a similar amount.
So of course England bounced back. Not to disregard the strides they’ve made, but it would have been an even more extraordinary feat to have remained as bad as they were. It would arguably have constituted art. A complete rejection of the surrounding world in favour of a private exploration of inadequacy.
However, after a giddy, sugar-crazed run-chase against South Africa and two shonky wins against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, things now get tough for England. New Zealand are unbeaten and seem like one of the few sides in this tournament unconcerned by how anyone else might be approaching the game. They’ve their own methodology and they’re happy with it.
England’s strategy is simple, even if they do occasionally forget it. They ease their batting aggression slider over further than anyone else would have it in the knowledge that they have more batsmen than anyone else. They then try and bowl tight, and when that doesn’t work, they inject a bit of chaos and try and buy a wicket. It’s nice. At least nowadays they have a plan to try and be better than the opposition. Previously they just aimed to be average and were baffled when that wasn’t enough.
New Zealand, by contrast, seemingly have a multitude of plans. McCullum’s side were a bit one-note, but Kane Williamson has thus far kept the positivity while adding a few more options in terms of how they go about things. It’s worked well for them so far, but we suppose only having one note to play can also bring clarity. Doubt can arise from having choices as much as from lack of faith in your own ability.
That last point seems like the kind of thing we should expand upon, but instead we’re going to slam on the brakes and bring the article to a grinding, unsatsifactory halt.
How many World Cup finals would New Zealand have to reach before people considered them ‘the team to beat’? We’d guess about forty. This is assuming they didn’t lose each of those finals to the same team because in that situation the team that beat them would obviously be the team to beat.
Maybe we’ve lost ourself in specifics there. Our point is that New Zealand are never favourites, even when they’re debagging opponents in a multitude of ways.
Respect has to be earned, you might argue. But ask the Associate Nations whether the cricket world pays a living wage in that regard. You can put in long, long hours trying to earn respect and then thanks to an act of god (or at least thanks to the cooling of moist air and resultant precipitation) you’ll find yourself pretty much back where you started. In cricket, respect runs through your fingers. You might get a few grains of it stuck to your skin if you’re particularly sweaty, but they’ll soon be gone.
Whatever their ‘brand of cricket’, New Zealand have a much darker, more permanent brand as outsiders in world competitions. Even though they’re winning all their games, you may still hear people refer to them as dark horses. Anyone who says they’re punching above their weight might like to consult the scales.
Imagine you work in accounts for a biggish company that leases out some of its office space to other firms. Imagine that one of your company directors inexplicably removes the coffee machine from the shared kitchen and places it in the middle of your firm’s office.
Now imagine that you trip over in the car park one morning and a load of people who work for other companies in your building all point and laugh at you for 16 minutes while you writhe around on the floor with a broken ankle. This is what it’s like to play cricket for India.
Shikhar Dhawan hasn’t snatched away anyone’s coffee. He’s just a guy with a smashing moustache who enjoys batting. R Ashwin isn’t ruling Prosperity House with an iron fist. He’s just an amiable nerd with a deep and genuine love for spin bowling. Even so, when their team lost to New Zealand, people around the world were laughing at them, enjoying their downfall.
Unfortunately for them, India’s players are representatives. Back when they represented the country, this wasn’t so bad, but nowadays they find themselves the public face of their cricket board. They represent a bunch of fat dullards addicted to cronyism and infatuated with Mammon. This is despite the fact that they have pretty much zero influence over what those people do and are in fact being driven into the ground themselves through their poor decisions.
India are top of the schadenfreude hierarchy. They boss England and Australia, who bully the other six major Test teams, who look down on Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who in turn exploit all the have-nots scrabbling around for international fixtures. The laughter then goes the other way.
England play the West Indies later today. The world can’t wait to see the Windies beat Giles Clarke’s boys and teach him and them a lesson. They then play Afghanistan next Wednesday, which offers the greatest opportunity for schadenfreude in this tournament with India not playing anyone quite so low down in the hierarchy.
Even when you play for one of the least popular nations, there’s always an opportunity to bring joy to the world.
Then a dot ball. Then another six.
Post-qualifying kicked off as if it had a bit of catching up to do. It was almost as if the tournament had begun a couple of weeks ago without the majority of teams being present until now.
India are playing New Zealand. Martin Guptill hit the first ball, delivered by R Ashwin, for six. Next ball he missed a straight one and was adjudged LBW. (You always use the word ‘adjudged’ when it was later shown to be missing.)
Incoming batsman Colin Munro promised greater solidity, defending the third delivery of the match with a good straight bat. Next ball he reverse-pummelled a six.
New Zealand’s number three lasted way longer than Guptill though. It was the sixth delivery he faced before he clogged one to mid-off and exited the stage.
The match continues.