12th over: New Zealand 45-3 (Williamson 22, Latham 1) Hafeez replaces Imad Wasim and concedes just one run from his third over. Latham has also been in poor form – his highest score in the tournament is 13 – so he is taking to get his eye in.
11th over: New Zealand 44-3 (Williamson 21, Latham 1) Shaheen Afridi is 19 years old. He’s also tall, left-handed and capable of bowling around 86-88 mph. In other words he should become a serious bowler in the next few years. He’s pretty useful now, and a maiden to Latham gives him figures of 4-2-8-2.
“Dear Rob,” says Uma Venkatraman. “I have been reading with great interest all the reactions to England’s defeat – much collective hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing. Have faith in your team, people. They can still win the next two games – New Zealand are yet to be tested, and India… well… they are capable of doing a Pakistan. So don’t give up hope… the cup can still stay home.”
It can, but it would take quite a twist. I cannot see them beating India. Scyld Berry put it most succinctly in the Telegraph: “It was not that England lost, but how.” The same applies to the Sri Lanka game. The Pakistan defeat didn’t really worry me, but the last two have been fifty shades of alarming.
10th over: New Zealand 44-3 (Williamson 21, Latham 1) Kane Williamson: our country needs you. Imad Wasim comes into the attack and is steered for three by Williamson.
“Couple of final thoughts on England before you give NZ/Pakistan your undivided!” says Phil Harrison. “Firstly, how much has Farbrace been missed? Hard to say if you’re not in the camp. But he seems like such a positive, can-do sort of fella. Must have left a big hole, particularly if, as we suspect, the failings have been largely psychological. Secondly, English cricketing Sliding Doors moments: SL’s decision to review that caught behind that dismissed Root at Headingley. They very nearly didn’t. And eventually did so with only about a second to spare, seemingly more in hope than expectation. That decision doesn’t get reviewed = England win that game. Bugger.”
I wonder whether Root’s shifty body language helped make their mind up. He looked about as innocent as a golden retriever smacking his chops in front of an empty plate of sausages. As for Farbrace, I am certain he’s been missed. It always felt like a slightly weird decision to get rid of him, as he clearly wanted to stay on until after the World Cup.
9th over: New Zealand 38-3 (Williamson 17, Latham 0) “Well,” says Niall McClure (5th over), “we were students at Birmingham University and we had had a couple of beers the night before, but not a long breakfast. The Pakistan innings was on the reserve day…”
Well, that’ll teach me to be a smart arse.
WICKET! New Zealand 38-3 (Taylor c Sarfaraz b Afridi 3)
New Zealand are in trouble, England are in trouble, we’re all in trouble. Taylor pushes tentatively at a beautiful delivery from Afridi that takes the edge, and Sarfaraz dives a long way to his right to take a stunning one-handed catch.
8th over: New Zealand 34-2 (Williamson 16, Taylor 0) Williamson times consecutive boundaries off Amir – the first through extra cover off the front foot, the second through cover off the back foot. Beautiful batting.
“Pakistan, eh?” says Graeme Simpson. “Back in 1992 I directed a profile for TVNZ of the late, great Martin Crowe during the World Cup in Australia and NZ. Interviewer was brother Jeff, so the show was ‘Crowe on Crowe’. We started in Christchurch where NZ played Pakistan in their final round robin game. After a run of success, it was the stinker for NZ – we hoped. Back in Auckland for the semi, against Pakistan again, and the Kiwis looked well set at lunch after a very good total. It wasn’t to be. My crew and I were on Eden Park with the guys for their lap of honour. There were some hard men in tears, but Martin held his line, dignified, waving to the crowd…fade to black to ‘Brothers in Arms’. Nearly, 40 years in the media and that is still my finest memory. Martin, RiP.”
That semi-final was pretty cruel. Had Crowe not injured his hamstring, they could well have won the tournament. They were certainly the best team in it.
7th over: New Zealand 24-2 (Williamson 6, Taylor 0) Pakistan are all over New Zealand. If they get Williamson early, they will have such a great chance – not just to win this game, but to reach the semi-finals.
“If we want to keep Roy in the squad and fiddle our way through until he’s back, we have two choices,” says Harkarn Sumal. “Either the ‘Escape To Victory’ route where we break Liam Dawson’s arm and bring in Alex Hales (not recommended for at least two reasons), or the tried and tested. Root’s been more or less opening all tournament anyway, and can go at a run-a-ball from the off. His presence will also give confidence to Bairstow, who currently opens with the knowledge that he is the one bearing all the burden. Plonk Woakes in at 3 (he of all our squad can be a poor man’s Root), and leave everyone else below him in situ. This cuts out the current flailing discombobulation in the much-vaunted middle order. Perhaps bring in Plunkett to replace Vince and bat him or Rashid at 8. I keep hearing about us ‘batting deep’, but that only seems to apply in reality when the sun’s on our backs and we’re 340-6 on a road. We need to expect the top seven to get the runs, and then hope for a bit of a tonk from the tail of Plunkett, Rashid, Archer and Wood …and breathe.”
Relax. There’s nothing to worry about. It’s over, you just need to embrace the misery.
WICKET! New Zealand 24-2 (Munro c Sohail b Afridi 12)
Munro’s miserable tournament continues. He flashes at a wider delivery from Afridi that seams away to take the edge, and Haris Sohail takes a sharp catch at first slip. Pakistan’s fielding has been comical but that was an excellent take.
6th over: New Zealand 24-1 (Munro 12, Williamson 6) “I was at the Pakistan v NZ World Cup match at Edgbaston in 1983,” says Niall McClure. “Pakistan were 0 for 3 after eight balls. Two for Hadlee and one for Cairns. My mates arrived for ball nine and had missed the decisive moments of the match…”
Not to mention the entire first innings. Long breakfast?
5th over: New Zealand 22-1 (Munro 11, Williamson 6) The staircase is covered and play can resume. Afridi, who is so promising but inevitably erratic, drifts onto the pads and is tucked away to the midwicket boundary by Williamson.
“The strange thing about Matt Henry is that he looked unplayable in four-day games for Kent but he was so-so in one-dayers,” says Dave Brown. “Has any overseas player had more of an impact on joining a county for one season than Henry? He single-handedly got Kent into Division One.”
Hmm, good question. Aravinda de Silva?
There’s a delay because of a problem behind the bowler’s arm. The left-armer Shaheen Afridi has come on to replace Mohammad Hafeez, and there’s an uncovered staircase in the batsman’s eyeline.
4th over: New Zealand 18-1 (Munro 11, Williamson 2) Excellent stuff from Munro, who cuts Amir for consecutive boundaries with the minimum of fuss.
“If England get eliminated, I’m afraid they only have themselves to blame,” says Kevin Wilson. “They didn’t have a rained off match (imagine if the Afghanistan game fell in that week of miserable weather) and really should’ve gone into yesterday’s game with a 6-0 record and riding high on a wave of euphoria. Instead we’ve approached games in a state of panic. We can say Pakistan are Pakistan but the bowlers didn’t cover themselves in glory and once Buttler went, the much-vaunted late order batted through treacle. The Sri Lanka defeat was horrific, though. I just hope Bangladesh get through, if we’re going out.”
3rd over: New Zealand 8-1 (Munro 1, Williamson 2) Munro has had a tournament of diminishing returns – 58*, 24, 22, 9, 0 – but he reverses the statistical momentum by driving Hafeez over extra cover to get off the mark. There is certainly something in this pitch for the spinner, and New Zealand might regret the omission of Ish Sodhi.
“England are simply following a classic three-act narrative arc,” writes
Matt Dony. “The first act was largely made up of swashbuckling series wins, with comedically consistent run chasing and a knowing swagger. In hindsight, there’s an arrogance that they will need to learn from. Then, the warm-up games and World Cup so far are the second act crash. We see our heroes on the brink of losing everything. Yesterday’s loss was the seeming point of no return, as we move into the third act vindication. Right now, there’d be a big training montage as they prepare themselves for the unlikely, against-all-odds run of victories that they are destined for. Lessons have been learned, the world is against them, but nothing can stop fate. Or something.”
Yeah, and they’re doing it for Apollo Creed.
2nd over: New Zealand 6-1 (Munro 0, Williamson 1) The new batsman is the poster boy for humble genius, Kane Williamson. Edgbaston is full of Pakistan fans, and the noise when Amir took that wicket was quite something. It’ll be even louder if he gets Williamson, and he almost does so with a fine delivery that slips past the outside edge. Amir has taken 16 wickets at an average of 14 in this tournament; in the 22 months between the Champions Trophy and the World Cup, he took five at an average of almost 100.
WICKET! New Zealand 5-1 (Guptill b Amir 5)
Mohammad Amir strikes with his first ball! Guptill chased a wide one and dragged it back onto the stumps; he’s had some exasperating dismissals in this tournament and that was another.
1st over: New Zealand 5-0 (Guptill 5, Munro 0) No golden duck this time; Guptill sweeps his first ball round the corner for four. The third delivery turns sharply, which will interest a few people on both sides. Five from the over.
“Good morning!” says Rosalind Napier. “I live in those flats by Aldi – it’s always fun watching the crowds on big match days. I catch a few county matches, but this one’s a bit too expensive for me, so I’ll be keeping up with the Guardian and a glimpse of the big screen from my balcony. I hope the rain keeps off for all the spectators!”
If not, there’s always the shelter of Aldi. Chilli Con Carne Beef Meatballs are £1.99 at the moment, and you can try them in-store.
The offspinner Mohammad Hafeez will open the bowling to Martin Guptill, who has made two golden ducks in his last three innings.
“I’ve been in a foul mood since last night too, even fouler with the shame of how much such trivial matters hurt me at the age of 69,” says Dave Langlois. “We’ve probably been hoist by our own petard a bit, haven’t we? We all loved the 5-0 thrashings of the Aussies and the world record, seemingly unstoppable scoring, without thinking much about the massive loss of confidence this could engender if the gung-ho approach went wrong in a tournament setting with weather-bedevilled pitches. What do they do, stick or twist? How much of either? Maybe we should just thank them for the enjoyment they’ve given us with a little bit of bitterness for the false hope. I reckon they doomed too.”
More than anything, I feel sad. All the joy they have given us will count for sweet bugger all if they go out in the next week. They’ve been a bit unlucky – Jason Roy’s injury, Alex Hales’ recreational pursuits, even the itinerary – but you could say that of a few sides. Personally, I think the pitches are a bit of a red herring. They’ve been a factor, but I think the biggest problem has been psychological. England have won a lot of games on awkward pitches in the last few years.
Both are unchanged.
New Zealand Guptill, Munro, Williamson (c), Taylor, Latham (wk), Neesham, de Grandhomme, Santner, Henry, Ferguson, Boult.
Pakistan Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c/wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi.
New Zealand have won the toss and will bat first
Kane Williamson cites a used pitch as the main reason for his decision. Sarfaraz says he also wanted to bat.
If you want to follow some live cricket, Tanya Aldred is writing our County Championship blog.
“There’s been some conjecture back home in New Zealand that the Black Caps may shuffle their pack a bit and give leggie Ish Sodhi a go ahead of Matt Henry, who suffered a fairly torrid time against the Windies last time out,” says Jose Kavalina. “Any news on whether Sodhi might be taking the field, or if Henry Nicholls will come in for Colin Munro, who hasn’t exactly set the tournament ablaze?”
I suppose it depends on the pitch. This could be a decent day for Matt Henry, given the overnight rain, although he has had a miserable few games.
The match will start at 11.30am
The umpires are happy with the state of the ground, so the toss will take place at 11am. It’s still 50 overs per side.
“Hope we’re still talking after yesterday’s ‘unpleasantness’,” says Brian Withington. “Call me a sad, old fool but I really think England’s recent travails have been the making of this tournament. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka all still well in the hunt now. And, whisper it gently, so are England! No longer being nailed-on tournament favourites might do them a favour. They weren’t as good as we thought before, but they’re not as bad as we think now. Discuss.”
I agree they’ve been the making of the tournament – as they were, funnily enough, in 2011 and 2015. Selfless to the last. As for England, I think they’ve bottled it. I hate saying that, and I’ve been in a foul mood since last night, but I think the likeliest scenario is that they are finished.
Psychological momentum can change so quickly, and if they win the last two group games the mood will change completely. I think they need to win both – they could qualify with one victory, but they surely need to go into the semi-finals with the morale boost of two wins. They need to win the toss on Sunday, bat, build a decent opening partnership, and then do this.
If New Zealand win today, they will reach the semi-finals for the fourth consecutive World Cup. No other team has qualified for the last three, never mind four.
“Did you see Morgan’s press conference?” says Andrew Hurley. “He seems to have lost his cool somewhat, and didn’t take very well fair observations (England bowled too short, inability to play a different way, backing away from Starc etc). Strange no-one brought up England choosing to play two spinners on a seaming track…”
Yes, I love Morgan but he was obviously rattled. I actually thought his jolly happy post-match interviews on the field were more worrying; they reminded me of Anthony Joshua after he had been sorted out by Andy Ruiz Jr. I feel very sad about the whole thing.
“Morning Rob,” says Damian Burns. “Is a washout the best thing England fans can hope for today?”
A washout would be good for England, though a New Zealand win would be better.
Hello. The last-chance saloon is Pakistan’s second home. They’ve got an en-suite upstairs and they get free peanuts from the bar staff. It’s a place where everybody knows their name, and they’re always glad they came. That’s because there’s no more exhilarating sight in cricket than Pakistan on a roll, whether within a match or a tournament. All their major victories – 1992, 2009, 2017 – came after poor starts left them in the last-chance saloon. And so, unlike ANOTHER TEAM I MIGHT MENTION, they won’t panic at being back there again.
Everything is simple for Pakistan: if they win their last three matches, against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, they have a terrific chance of sneaking into the semi-finals. (There are lots of permutations, so you’ll have to take my word for that.) Today’s match is the big one – if they win it, I would humbly opine that England will be in appreciable bother. And Pakistan will be strutting round the last-chance saloon like they own the place.
The match starts at 10.30am, a wet outfield permitting.