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04 March 201511:55

Pool A – State of Play

Here’s a look at how each team has performed so far and what is yet to come

Pool A – State of Play - Cricket News

New Zealand are on top of Pool A, and are brimming with confidence after four consecutive wins.

State of play: Pool A

Already 24 pool matches have been played in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and only 18 remain.

In Pool A, the battle for top position appears to have been won by New Zealand, but the battle for the final three positions in the top four remains wide open.

Here’s a look at how each team has performed so far and what is yet to come:

NEW ZEALAND (First, 8 points)

The Black Caps could not have asked for a better start to the tournament. The home side will be brimming with confidence after four strong wins.

It all started with a 98-run win over Sri Lanka, before a three-wicket win over Scotland where the Black Caps’ batsmen suffered a few jitters after bowling the Associate team out for 142.

New Zealand thrashed England by eight wickets in Wellington and after dominating early against Australia, scraped home by one wicket for an important win.

Brendon McCullum has been in brilliant form with the bat and as captain, scoring three fifties, including a World Cup recordfastest against England and following up with a 21-ball half-century against Australia.

He has 207 runs for the tournament to date and tops the strike-rate rankings at 188.18.

Kane Williamson is averaging 74.5 for the tournament, while Tim Southee and Trent Boult come in first and second on the wicket-takers list, with 13 and 10 respectively.

The Black Caps are set to finish on top of Pool A and potentially play the side which finishes fourth in Pool B in a quarter final in Wellington.

Remaining matches:

New Zealand v Afghanistan, March 8, Napier
New Zealand v Bangladesh, March 13, Hamilton

SRI LANKA (second, 6 points)

Sri Lanka has proven time and time again it can perform when it comes to World Cups, but it might have been a little underrated before CWC15 when much of the attention focused on the host countries, India and South Africa.

But since its loss to New Zealand and after a bit of a scare against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka has shown it can be a threat with its batting strength.

Kumar Sangakkara (268 runs at 134), Lahiru Thirimanne (256 at 85.33) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (229 at 76.33) sit in first, third and fourth positions for runs scored for the tournament.

When the batsmen looked shaky against Afghanistan, Mahela Jayawardene stepped up with 100.

With the ball, Lasith Malinga is finding form after returning for injury and has picked up seven wickets to date, including 3-35 against Bangladesh, while Suranga Lakmal also has seven scalps.

Sri Lanka is sitting comfortably inside the top four for Pool A, but needs to defeat Australia in Sydney next weekend to finish in second spot and it cannot afford a stumble against Scotland in Hobart.

Remaining matches:

Australia v Sri Lanka, March 8, Sydney
Sri Lanka v Scotland, March 11, Hobart

BANGLADESH (third, 3 points)

Bangladesh has had a mixed tournament to date.

It started with a 105-run win over Afghanistan in Canberra before its washed-out match against with Australia in Brisbane.

The lack of result handed Bangladesh one point which could be crucial to its hopes of slipping into the quarter-finals.

It was soundly beaten by Sri Lanka after the latter’s star batsmen posted a big total, with Sabbir Rahman the only batsmen to score higher than 50.

Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim lead Bangladesh’s run-scoring for the tournament courtesy of fifties against Afghanistan, but some big scores will need to be found for Bangladesh to progress.

The match against England at Adelaide Oval on March 9 will likely serve as an elimination final for the knock-outs stages.

If it loses, a win over tournament favourite New Zealand will be needed to advance.

Remaining matches:

Bangladesh v Scotland, March 5, Nelson
England v Bangladesh, March 9, Adelaide
New Zealand v Bangladesh, March 13, Hamilton

AUSTRALIA (Fourth, 3 points)

Australia has had a mixed start to the tournament.

It dominated its opening match against England, winning by 111 runs, but had to wait two weeks before a second chance to play after the wash-out against Bangladesh in Brisbane.

Against New Zealand, it batted “horrifically” in the words of skipper Michael Clarke, but brilliant bowling from Mitchell Starc almost stole the win.

Australia wants to finish second in Pool A, but needs to defeat Sri Lanka next Sunday, while also beating Afghanistan and Scotland, to ensure it does so.

Brad Haddin was the best of the Australian batsmen in Auckland with a hard-fought 43 off 41.

Against England, Finch excelled with 135 off 128, while Glenn Maxwell (66 off 40) and George Bailey (55 off 69) also batted well.

Finch is Australia’s top run-scorer for the tournament so far with 149 runs.

Mitch Starc has been a revelation with the ball, after almost saving Australia against New Zealand with his 6-28, while Mitch Marsh was excellent against England when he took 5-33.

Starc will be crucial against Sri Lanka’s star-studded batting line-up, while Mitch Johnson (2-36 off 8 and 0-68 off 6) needs to fire.

Remaining matches:

Australia v Afghanistan, March 4, Perth
Australia v Sri Lanka, March 8, Sydney
Australia v Scotland, March 14, Hobart

AFGHANISTAN (Fifth, 2 points)

Afghanistan has won plenty of fans already in its maiden World Cup.

After a positive start in Canberra against Bangladesh its batsmen were unable to chase down a win, but there was plenty to like in the performance including fifties from Mohammad Nabi and Samiullah Shenwari.

Against Sri Lanka, it looked as though Afghanistan might cause one of the upsets of the tournament before Mahela Jayawardene stood tall with a century to see his team home.

Then, the breakthrough victory came against Scotland in Dunedin.

All looked lost at 97-7 chasing Scotland’s 210, but a superb century from Shenwari resulted in a famous victory.

Shapoor Zadran has picked up seven wickets to date and Hamid Hassan six, while Shenwari has scored 176 runs at 58.66 – a higher average than any England batsman so far.

With both tournament hosts and England to come a place in the finals is unlikely for Afghanistan, but the team has shown it has a very bright future and it could yet have a major upset up its sleeve.

Remaining matches:

Australia v Afghanistan, March 4, Perth
New Zealand v Afghanistan, March 8, Napier
England v Afghanistan, March 13, Sydney

ENGLAND (Sixth, 2 points)

The World Cup has been a difficult tournament for England to date.

First, it lost to Australia by 111 runs at the MCG.

That was followed by a massive eight-wicket defeat to New Zealand in Wellington, where it was bowled out for 123 and the Black Caps chased the total in just 12.2 overs.

A big win over Scotland saw England notch its first points for the tournament, while the match against Sri Lanka loomed as a chance for England to properly get its campaign back on track.

When it scored 309 thanks to a century from Joe Root it seemed to be in a good position, but its bowlers had no answers for the Sri Lanka batsman, managing to take just one wicket as Sri Lanka cruised to victory.

Attack spearheads Stuart Broad and James Anderson has struggled so far, with Steven Finn the pick of the bowlers to date with eight wickets.

Moeen Ali and Root lead the run scoring, both with 173 runs at an average of 43.25, followed by Ian Bell with 147 (36.75).

England is now in a position where it must beat Bangladesh and Afghanistan to sure up its place in the quarter-finals.

Remaining matches:

England v Bangladesh, March 9, Adelaide
England v Afghanistan, March 13, Sydney

SCOTLAND (Seventh, 0 points)

Scotland has fought hard in its first three outings this tournament but has yet to find its maiden World Cup victory.

The Scots best chance was against Afghanistan in Dunedin when it was in a winning position during a thriller that went down to the final over, while it gave New Zealand’s batsmen a bit of a scare as they lost seven wickets chasing 143.

Josh Davey has been the stand-out bowler to date for Scotland with nine wickets from three matches, while Kyle Coetzer (97) leads the run-scoring.

Its batsmen have struggled to deliver significant scores to date. Kyle Coetzer, Richie Berrington and Matt Machan have scored a fifty apiece, while captain Preston Mommsen – the 2014 ICC Associate Player of the Year – has a top score of 26.

Scotland will hope to cause an upset and achieve its first ever World Cup win before the tournament is over and has three more chances to do so.

There is plenty of talent in the Scotland squad and if it can perform at its best, anything could happen.

Remaining matches:

Bangladesh v Scotland, March 5, Nelson
Sri Lanka v Scotland, March 11, Hobart
Australia v Scotland, March 14, Hobart