Section: Cricket World Cup

Cricket World Cup: New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in opener

Co-hosts New Zealand got off to a winning start with a resounding 98-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening match of the World Cup in Christchurch.

2015 Cricket World Cup, Christchurch (Hagley Oval):
New Zealand 331-6 (50 overs): Anderson 75, B McCullum 65
Sri Lanka 233 (46.1 overs): Thirimanne 65, Anderson 2-18, Vettori 2-34
New Zealand won by 98 runs

Captain Brendon McCullum struck 65 off 49 balls as the Black Caps put on a rapid 111 for the first wicket.

Kane Williamson added a composed 57 before Corey Anderson blasted 75 off 46 balls to help the hosts to an imposing total of 331-6 from their 50 overs.

In reply, Sri Lanka subsided to 233 all out, with Daniel Vettori taking 2-34.

New Zealand, who play England next, have reached six World Cup semi-finals without ever going on to make the final.

The Black Caps, however, are one of the favourites for this tournament, and this powerful performance against the 2011 finalists underlined why they are so highly-rated.

“We executed our blueprint with the bat,” said McCullum. “It was a really good performance all round. We have been waiting a long time for this so it is great to complete our plans.”

Put in under grey skies, the hosts immediately attacked the Sri Lanka bowlers with some explosive hitting in the first powerplay.

Williamson recorded his 13th fifty in his last 17 ODIs, before Anderson, playing in his home city, helped New Zealand to add a crucial 102 in the final 10 overs.

Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996 and reached the final of the last two tournaments, but they will have to improve on this performance in order to challenge at this tournament.

Influential fast bowler Lasith Malinga was disappointing, conceding 84 runs in 10 wicketless overs.

Sri Lanka’s chase began well, with opener Lahiru Thirimanne hitting 65, but was soon derailed by the pace of Trent Boult and the spin of Vettori.

They collapsed from 124-1 to 168-6, with Boult, Adam Milne and Vettori, who reversed his retirement from ODIs last year, capturing two wickets each, and their innings never recovered.

They will hope for a rapid return to form when they face Afghanistan on Saturday.

“They probably scored 30 or 40 runs too many and then we needed someone in our top four to get a hundred,” said captain Angelo Matthews.

“But we are not going to panic, we still have five group games left.”

Read more at BBC Sport


Cricket World Cup: Australia captain Clarke out of England’s World Cup opener

Michael Clarke will not be rushed back for Australia’s World Cup opener against England at the MCG on Saturday.

Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann has confirmed Clarke will instead stick to the original timeline for recovery from his hamstring surgery, and is expected to return against Bangladesh on February 21.

On Thursday morning, Clarke jogged and walked laps of the MCG in a light training session following Australia’s comprehensive win over the UAE, in which he top scored with 64 and bowled two overs. There could have been a temptation for Australia’s selectors to view that performance as evidence he was ready to play against England, but Lehmann said a cautious approach was best.

“Happy with the way he pulled up and really happy with his progress,” Lehmann said. “But we’re going to stick with the plan and he’ll play against Bangladesh. Really happy with the way it’s gone, the way he batted, ran, fielded, bowled, he ticked all the boxes. A good solid week [ahead] and get prepared for Bangladesh.”

Clarke still has some fitness tests to pass before he is cleared to return to the side, but his progress has impressed the team’s medical staff and he is not expected to be in doubt for the Bangladesh game at the Gabba.

“He’s very keen to play but we’ve got to make sure that when he gets back he’ll be ready to go, and he will be on Saturday [next] week,” Lehmann said. “We just had a chat. He’s respectful of what we’re trying to do, get him right. He’s a quality player and a quality leader. Whilst we would have loved to have him available for this game, we’re making sure he’s 100% and ready to go for Bangladesh.”

Clarke was not the only injured player jogging laps at the MCG on Thursday, with all-rounder James Faulkner also enjoying a light training run as he continues his recovery from a side strain. Faulkner has batted in the MCG nets this week but the timeline for his return is unclear. He has no chance of playing against England, and may be reserved for the second half of the tournament.

“He’s batting comfortably now, so that’s a good sign for us,” Lehmann said. “We’re just dictated by the medical team at the moment with that. Hopefully he’ll resume bowling very shortly. We’ll wait and see on that one.”

Faulkner’s absence means Australia will need their other seam-bowling all-rounders, Shane Watson and Mitchell Marsh, to take on a greater bowling workload, but his finishing with the bat will also be greatly missed. Remarkably, Faulkner is currently ranked 22 on the ICC’s ODI batting rankings, and Lehmann said there was some chance he could play as a batsman only.

“We’ll look at those options, depending on where we’re playing and what the conditions are like, and who we’re playing is probably the key,” Lehmann said. “We’ll look at all of those.”

Read more at ESPN