South Africa shatter records
The Proteas rewrote history in their opening match against Sri Lanka in Delhi, racking up a mammoth total of 428, the highest in the 48-year history of the Men’s Cricket World Cup. The previous highest was 417 by Australia against Afghanistan in Perth in 2015. Only five times has the 400-mark been passed at a 50-over World Cup, with South Africa having achieved it thrice now.
Three batters – Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram – scored a century, another first in World Cups. Markram reached his ton off just 49 balls, the fastest in tournament history, beating Ireland's Kevin O’Brien’s record of a 50-ball ton set against England in Bangalore in 2011.
With such powerful display of batting and knowing the batting friendly nature of India’s pitches, most of the bowlers in the tournament would have been alarmed by South Africa’s hitting prowess. Four Sri Lanka bowlers (Kasun Rajitha, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana and Dunith Wellalage) were taken for more than 80 runs, something which had never happened before in a World Cup match.
South African exports
The South African talent in India isn’t limited to the Proteas team only. There are eight South Africa-born players featuring for other teams as well. Of 150 players in the tournament, 23 are born in South Africa, most of any country.
Apart from the 15 playing for South Africa, the eight in the other teams are Marnus Labuschagne (Australia); Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips (New Zealand); Wesley Barresi, Ryan Klein, Colin Ackermann, Sybrand Engelbrecht and Roelof van der Merwe (Netherlands).
After South Africa, the most players born in a country at this World Cup are from India (18) – the fifteen in the India team, two (Teja Nidamanuru and Vikramjit Singh) in the Netherlands team and one (Ish Sodhi) in New Zealand.
Defending champions England may have faltered in their opening game against New Zealand but still produced a unique record. For the first time in the history of ODI cricket, all 11 batters for England scored at least 10 runs, a stat that underlines England’s batting depth.
Jonny Bairstow’s six off the second ball of the innings also made it the first World Cup where the first scoring shot was a six.
New Zealand set their own records on their way to a nine-wicket win. Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway scored a 100 off 82 and 83 balls respectively, the two fastest for New Zealand tons by any New Zealand players at a World Cup. They also became the first batsmen to score hundreds on their World Cup debuts.
Pakistan keep record intact
Pakistan kicked off their World Cup campaign in Hyderabad with a win against Netherlands, the only non-Test playing nation in the tournament. Pakistan scored 286 in their innings, a total they had never failed to defend at previous World Cups. It was 13th consecutive time that Pakistan successfully defended a total of 275 or more. The highest target achieved against them remains 274 by India at Centurion in 2003.
Pakistan were helped by Saud Shakeel’s 68 runs. He reached 50 off just 32 balls, the second fastest for a Pakistan player at a World Cup and just one ball short of the record by Inzamam-ul-Haq against New Zealand in the semi-final in 1992.
India’s batting recovery
The home team were staring at defeat in their opening match against Australia in Chennai when they were reduced to 2-3. For only the second time in India’s World Cup history, both openers (Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan) bagged a duck in the same match. The previous such instance was against Zimbabwe in 1983 in Tunbridge Wells. At that time their openers were Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth. Interestingly, India went on to win both games. In 1983, they even went on to win the World Cup.
Kishan also became Mitchell Starc’s 50th wicket in the World Cup. The Australian reached that in just 19 games, the fewest matches for a bowler to account for 50 wickets in tournament history.