MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Jun 17 – India’s 89-run thrashing of arch rivals Pakistan at Old Trafford on Sunday left them joint second behind leaders and reigning champions Australia in the 10-team World Cup table.
This year’s format sees all the teams playing each other once in the initial group phase, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals.
Australia, New Zealand, India and hosts England, all widely tipped to reach the knockout stages before the tournament started, currently occupying the leading places.
Here AFP Sport looks at the World Cup state of play:
Australia on top
Australia top the table after four wins out of five, captain Aaron Finch leading from the front with 153 in Saturday’s success over Sri Lanka and fellow opener David Warner hitting a century against Pakistan.
But they have looked dangerously over-reliant on fast bowler Mitchell Starc to finish teams off, the left-arm quick getting them out of a tight spot with 5-46 against the West Indies after Australia’s top-order collapsed earlier in that game.
India, however, exposed Australia’s support bowling in a 36-run win where Starc managed just 1-74.
Steady New Zealand
Having reached their first World Cup final four years ago, when they lost to co-hosts Australia, the Black Caps were never going to ‘slip under the radar’ again.
In rainswept conditions similar to those back home, Kane Williamson’s side have started with three wins from four and one washout.
The only caveat is that they have defeated teams they were expected to beat, with a no result against India leaving unanswered questions about their true strength.
A late collapse saw them nearly squander a winning position against Bangladesh. The Black Caps will take heart from an eventual two-wicket win but their future opponents will be encouraged by the clatter of wickets.
India on the rise
India have looked the team to beat in wins against South Africa, Australia and now Pakistan, with opener Rohit Sharma’s 140 on Sunday his second hundred in three innings.
And even without Shikhar Dhawan, who suffered a thumb injury making a hundred against Australia, Sharma still shared a century stand for the first-wicket with the promoted KL Rahul.
Meanwhile, pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah has led the attack in style, while spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have both made important contributions.
Reliable paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar suffered a hamstring injury against Pakistan, but India appear to have enough strength in depth to cope while he recovers.
England back on track
England have risen to the top of the one-day international rankings after an embarrassing first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.
But doubts over their ability to hold their nerve in tournament play, raised by a home loss to Pakistan in the semi-finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy, were revived when Pakistan beat them by 14 runs second time out at this World Cup.
England, who have never won the World Cup, appeared rattled by Pakistan’s passionate fans and were beaten despite hundreds from Joe Root and Jos Buttler.
They have since returned to winning ways with Root making another hundred in an eight-wicket thrashing of the West Indies on Friday.
But injury concerns over dynamic opener Jason Roy and skipper Eoin Morgan have left England with some headaches.
Right now it is hard to see how any of the teams outside the top four force their way in.
South Africa appear a shadow of their former selves, while the West Indies have yet to show they can adapt when simply blasting teams away with either bat or ball is not an option.
Pakistan could put a winning streak together but time is running out, while Bangladesh’s win over South Africa may prove to be their high point.
Sri Lanka are struggling, although two washouts have not helped, while winless Afghanistan have yet to give spin star Rashid Khan enough runs to play with.