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Saturday , December 14 2019

England storm into WC semis

England’s Jonny Bairstow celebrates after scoring a century during the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and England in Chester-le-Street, England on July 3. (AP)

India batsman Rayudu retires

DURHAM, England, July 3, (RTRS): England stormed into the semifinals of the Cricket World Cup for the first time since 1992 after Jonny Bairstow’s second consecutive century helped secure a comprehensive 119-run victory against New Zealand on Wednesday.

Bairstow smashed 106 to help England to 305-8 in their final group game at the Riverside Ground though the total could easily have been bigger but for a middle order collapse.

New Zealand wobbled early in their chase, losing both openers cheaply, before a couple of run-outs effectively derailed their chase and they were all out for 186 in 45 overs.

England will face either holders Australia or twice champions India in the semifinals at Edgbaston.

New Zealand could not qualify on Wednesday but, given their superior run rate, Pakistan would need a freak result against Bangladesh on Friday to leapfrog the Black Caps.

After England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bat, Bairstow and Jason Roy threatened to replicate their Edgbaston heroics where the openers had raised 160 to set up their campaign-reviving victory over India.

Against a New Zealand attack missing Lockie Ferguson, who is nursing a tight hamstring, Bairstow and Roy looked unstoppable, scoring freely to bring up England’s 100 in the 15th over.

Jimmy Neesham ended the 123-run partnership in the 19th over when Roy, having made a run-a-ball 60, perished at short cover.

Bairstow needed 95 balls to bring up his 100 as he and Joe Root kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Trent Boult returned to dismiss Root for 24 and England suddenly began losing wickets regularly with the pitch showing signs of slowing down.

Bairstow chopped a Matt Henry delivery onto his stumps and Jos Buttler miscued Boult to Kane Williamson at mid-off.

Even Ben Stokes struggled to get going and managed only 11 off 27 balls. Morgan made 42 before Mitchell Santner took a stunning catch off Henry to dismiss the England captain.

New Zealand were rocked early in their chase, losing both openers by the sixth over with a meagre 14 on the board.

The onus was on Kane Williamson (27) and Ross Taylor (28) to put the chase back on track but two run-outs, one fortuitous and another ill-judged, led to the dismissals of New Zealand’s two most senior batsmen.

Taylor’s drive brushed Mark Wood’s fingers before hitting the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Williamson out of his ground.

In the next over, Taylor ran himself out going for a risky second.

Tom Latham made a fighting 57 down the order but it had no real bearing on the outcome of the contest.

Meanwhile, India batsman Ambati Rayudu has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) said on Wednesday.

Rayudu, who last played a one-day international (ODI) in March, was not picked in India’s 15-man squad for the World Cup.

The 33-year-old was not considered as a replacement when India lost opener Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar to injuries, with Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal called up instead.

“It has been a wonderful journey of playing the sport and learning from every up and down it brought upon for the last 25 years at various different levels.” Rayudu, who played over 200 Twenty20 matches, scored over 4,500 runs including one century and 24 fifties. He played 55 ODIs, amassing 1,694 runs with three centuries at an average of 47.

India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah’s ability to bowl yorkers at will has been a key factor in his team’s progress to the Cricket World Cup semifinals and the right-arm pacer attributes it to the long hours he spent honing the skill.

Bumrah sealed India’s 28-run victory against Bangladesh on Tuesday with two trademark yorkers to claim the last two wickets in successive deliveries and finish with figures of 4-55.

The right-arm quick’s accuracy and death-overs mastery make him a limited overs asset and the 25-year-old attributed his skill to his work in the nets.

“Whenever I practise in the nets, I practise each and every situation – be it with the new ball, be it with the old ball, or death bowling at the death,” the bowler with an unusual action told reporters.

“I tick all the boxes in the nets. In the match, it’s all about execution and keeping a clear head.

“All of that preparation helps me in the matches. If the work ethic is good, then execution becomes much easier.” Bumrah has used the yorker delivery to good effect in the tournament to claim 14 wickets from seven matches with an impressive economy rate of 4.6.

His unique release point and accuracy render him nearly unplayable at times and difficult to score off otherwise.

 Bumrah, who likes to simulate match situations in the nets, said he did not consider himself a master of the delivery.

“I do it again and again and again in the nets. The more you do it, you get decent at it.

“You can’t master it but you still try to get better at it. It’s all about repetition. It’s like the length ball – you have to do it again and again (in the nets) and try and replicate it in the game.” Another aspect of his bowling is to control his aggression according to the requirement of the team, he said.

“I try to keep things simple. Reading and analysing the wicket as soon as possible is important. Sometimes you run after wickets, but I focus on team goals – what the team wants me to do right now.

“Not chasing success, I want to focus on my process. If I do that, eventually everything gets sorted out.” Qualifying for the semifinals with a match to spare affords India the luxury of resting their strike bowler for Saturday’s group clash with Sri Lanka but Bumrah does not want to put his feet up.

“This is my first World Cup so I’d like to play as many games as possible… The more matches you play, the more you enjoy.”

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