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ICC World Cup: Five thrilling matches in the group stage

mid-day looks at the most memorable matches of the highly-exciting group stage that concluded on Sunday

Ireland vs West Indies (Feb 15, Nelson)
Ireland's John Mooney and Niall O'Brien celebrate their victory over WI. Pics/AFP, Getty Images
Ireland's John Mooney and Niall O'Brien celebrate their victory over WI. Pics/AFP, Getty Images

People would not have fancied the Irish chasing 305 against the West Indies. What followed was a terrific display of aggressive batting as Paul Sterling, Niall O'Brien and Ed Joyce combined to chase down the score and that too with four overs to spare. The Irish, surely, won many hearts that day.

New Zealand vs Australia (Feb 28, Auckland)New Zealand's Trent Boult celebrates an Australian wicket
New Zealand's Trent Boult celebrates an Australian wicket

Winning the toss and electing to bat, Australia were rolled over by the Kiwis for a paltry 151 riding on an impressive fifer from seamer Trent Boult. Skipper Brendon McCullum then took the Aussie bowlers to the cleaners and scored a rapid-fire 50 off just 24 balls. Mitchell Starc, though, had other ideas as he ripped through the New Zealand middle order, reducing them to 146 for 9. Kane Williamson then took matters into his hands and smashed a six off
Pat Cummins to finish the cliffhanger as Starc's 6 for 28 went in vain.

Afghanistan vs Scotland (Feb 26, Dunedin)
After reducing Afghanistan to 97 for seven chasing 211, Scotland would have fancied their chances of winning their first World Cup game in three editions. Samiullah Shenwari, though, had other ideas. He stitched crucial partnerships first with Dawlat Zadran and then with Hamid Hassan before falling for 96, with his team still 19 short of the finish line. Shapoor Zadran and Hassan then held their cool to give their side a fairytale maiden win in their first-ever World Cup.

Ireland vs Zimbabwe (March 7, Hobart)Ireland's Ed Joyce celebrates his century against Zimbabwe
Ireland's Ed Joyce celebrates his century against Zimbabwe

A century from Ed Joyce and 97 from Andrew Balbirnie took Ireland to 331-8. Zimbabwe were tottering at 74-4 before Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams put up a breath taking display of batting. Taylor fell after his ton and a controversial catch by John Mooney sent Williams back for 96. The lower order swung their bats around, but Zimbabwe eventually fell short by five runs in a nail-biting finish. The controversy stoked by a Zimbabwe newspaper over Mooney's catch left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth.

England vs Bangladesh (March 9, Adelaide)Bangladesh players celebrate their victory over England in Adelaide
Bangladesh players celebrate their victory over England in Adelaide

A win for Bangladesh would knock the English out and send the Asian minnows into their first-ever World Cup knock-outs. Chasing a formidable 276, England kept losing wickets at regular intervals before Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler nearly took them over the line. It was a case of so close yet so far as Rubel Hossain produced two full and fast deliveries to knock over Stuart Broad and James Anderson to hand them a 15-run defeat and an early flight back home. England slumped to one of their worst World Cup performances as they failed to beat any Test team in their group.

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