The 2019 World Cup has reached the last day of its league stages and we have our four semi-finalists - Australia, India, England and New Zealand. India and Australia are playing their last league matches on Saturday and that will decide who tops the league and, more importantly, avoids an in-form England in the semi-finals.
Australia, who are currently the table-toppers, have been led by their two openers - Aaron Finch and David Warner with the bat and Mitchel Starc with the ball. Warner and Finch have complemented each other perfectly and have consistently given good starts. Steven Smith has played some crucial innings in the middle and the finisher has been the vice-captain - Alex Carey. Starc has been outstanding with the ball, picking up 24 wickets, and has an able partner in Pat Cummins for support.
India, currently placed second, have had Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohl scoring the bulk of the runs. Kohli has six fifties in this tournament and will be looking for a couple of centuries in the final week. Jasprit Burma and Mohammed Shami have provided important breakthroughs to bail the team out of trouble on multiple occasions.
England and New Zealand, placed third and fourth respectively, have had contrasting campaigns. The latter, led by the exemplary Kane Williamson, started very strongly but lost their last three games. The hosts had a mixed opening stage, but finished very strongly with convincing wins over India and New Zealand on the back of a couple of hundreds from Jonny Bairstow. Apart from the top four, teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka all had their moments but faltered at the crucial stages.
There have been many outstanding individual performances in this World Cup. With the league stage ending today, let's have a look at three players who have a strong case for the player of the tournament award.
#3 Rohit Sharma
India vice-captain Rohit Sharma has had an outstanding World Cup. He has already scored four hundreds, which is a record for most hundreds in a single edition of the Cup that he now jointly holds with the Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakarra, and has enough matches to go one better.
Sharma has scored 544 runs at an average of 90 odd. He is the only the second Indian batsmen after Sachin Tendulkar to have scored more than 500 runs in a single World Cup. The Mumbai batsman has been slightly circumspect at the start, seen off the new ball and then attacked as the going got easier. He has been lethal when given anything short and has hit many sixes in the square leg region with the pull shot.
Sharma’s best innings came in the biggest match of them all - India vs Pakistan. With Sarfaraz Ahmed winning the toss and putting India in, Rohit unleashed his willow on the Pakistan bowlers. He took a special liking for Shaheen Afridi who kept bowling short to him and Sharma kept bringing out the pull shot. The opener scored 140 runs in 113 balls to take India to a score of 336 which was well beyond Pakistan’s reach. He also scored hundreds against South Africa, Bangladesh and England.
With potentially three matches still to play, Sharma will be looking to end as the leading run-scorer, win the player of the tournament trophy and most importantly - win his first World Cup.
Also see – India vs New Zealand head to head stats