Touted as red-hot favourites to clinch the coveted World Cup trophy, both India and England suffer contrasting defeats in their respective warm-up fixtures on Saturday. While India suffered a horrible batting collapse against New Zealand in the tricky conditions, England failed to live up to their reputation as the world’s best ODI side. Virat Kohli and Co. were stunned by the Black Caps by six wickets in their first warm-up game at The Oval. Left-arm pacer Trent Boult wreaked havoc on the Indian batsmen as they were bundled out for a mere 179 which the Black Caps chased down easily losing four wickets.
Ross Taylor (71) and captain Kane Williamson (67) both spent useful time in the middle as New Zealand crossed the line with almost 13 overs to spare. After winning the toss, Kohli elected to bat on a wicket with a fair amount of grass in order to test his batsmen in challenging conditions. However, his decision backfired as none of the three opening options – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and KL Rahul – managed to make a mark.
Even Kohli, the number one batter in the world, couldn’t provide much resistance to his struggling team and was cleaned bowed by Colin de Grandhomme. After his wicket, India were left reeling at 39 for 4 in the 11th over.
Hardik Pandya managed some quick runs while MS Dhoni hung around for a while but by the time Ravindra Jadeja walked out to bat, they were reduced to 77 for 5, and three balls later, slid to 81 for 6. Boult snared a four-fer while James Neesham snared three wickets as India folded up for 179, batting less than 40 overs.
India would aim to amend their batting mistakes and get into the groove when they take on Bangladesh in the second warm-up match before beginning their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5.
In the other warm-up game, England desperated missed the services of their regular skipper Eoin Morgan. The hosts failed to chase a stiff 298 total against arch-rivals Australia and suffered a loss 12 runs.
For Aussies, Steve Smith announced his pending return to international cricket with a flawless century as Australia put in a solid bowling performance without gun quicks Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to hand a hobbled England outfit a rare defeat on their home turf. Smith scored 116 runs (102 balls, 4×8, 6×3) as Australia posted 297/9 in their stipulated quota of 50 overs.
For England, stand-in skipper Jos Buttler (52 off 31), James Vince (64 off 76), Chris Woakes (40 off 44) and Liam Plunkett (19 off 20) put up a valiant fight. However, they could not help their side get across the line as the hosts were eventually bowled out for 285 with three balls to spare.
Openers Jason Roy (32 off 36) and Jonny Bairstow (12 off 17) failed to give England the start they would have hoped chasing the total.
Having lost Morgan on the eve of the match, England’s injury worries mounted further as pacer Mark Wood left the field during his opening spell and was sent for scans on his foot, before Liam Dawson also exited late in Australia’s innings after hurting his finger collecting a return throw. Leg-spinner Adil Rashid too was on the sidelines with a shoulder niggle.
England would be hoping that Morgan gets fit for the second warm-up game against Afghanistan on Monday.