Five important things learnt in the ICC World Cup 2015 first round
Sydney: The group stage of the World Cup came to an end on Sunday. Below AFP Sport looks at some of the key points to have emerged from the tournament so far:
Australian cricketers congratulate teammate David Warner (R) after he took a catch of the bowling of Glenn Maxwell to take the wicket of Scotland batsman Richie Berrington during the 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool A match between Australia and Scotland in Hobart. Pic/AFP
Some 23 years after Wasim Akram lit up the last World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, this tournament has seen a clutch of left-arm fast bowlers following in the Pakistan great's footsteps, with batsmen exposed to an angle of delivery many of them don't face that often. Australia's Mitchell Starc has so far taken 16 wickets at just 8.50 apiece, with New Zealand's Trent Boult not far behind with 15 at just a shade more than 15 each. Meanwhile Pakistan fielded a trio of left-arm quicks -- Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz -- in their tournament-changing win over South Africa.
Attack to win
Cricket tactics are a little bit like flared trousers -- everything comes back at least once. Amidst all the blazing hitting, what this World Cup has shown is that captains prepared to back their bowlers with attacking fields -- Australia's Michael Clarke and New Zealand's Brendon McCullum being two examples -- have the greatest chance of success.
India peak at right time
India had a wretched tour of Australia in the lead-up to the defence of their title but, as they showed in winning the 2011 World Cup on home soil and the 2013 Champions Trophy in England, MS Dhoni's men -- and the captain himself -- have an admirable ability to raise their game when there's a major prize at stake.
Garden of Eden no graveyard for bowlers
Before the tournament started, there were fears the short straight boundaries at Eden Park would lead to a riot of run-scoring at the Auckland ground. Yet the venue has staged some low-scoring thrillers, including New Zealand's one-wicket win over Australia in the match of the tournament so far, with the Aussies all out for 151 after Boult took five for 27, only for Starc to hit back with six for 28.
Associates on the rise
It is a measure of how things have changed that Ireland's victory over the West Indies was no longer regarded as a shock. Meanwhile Afghanistan, UAE and Scotland all had their moments too, adding to the vibrancy of a tournament that otherwise would just be a slightly expanded version of the Champions Trophy.