Starc to Stokes, and superman Sarfaraz

The picks of week four from our travelling writers at the World Cup. Do your picks match theirs?

Favourite performance

Sambit Bal: Has to be Carlos Braithwaite v New Zealand. Valiant, heroic, controlled, powerful, and eventually heartbreaking, one for the ages.

Sharda Ugra: Angelo Mathews vs England - Sri Lanka's tired Superman showed that he still has it. Or a little bit of it. Or enough of it. Or maybe only some of it. Whatever quantity, it was enough to rip scripts, scatter plans into the wind and throw the World Cup into utter pandemonium. Kyrptonite, what's that?

Alan Gardner: Mohammad Nabi so nearly pulling off an IPL-inspired hit job on India with nothing but the aid of his jobbing offspin, a good eye and some canny cricket smarts.

Andrew Miller: Carlos Brathwaite! In remembering his own name at last, he delivered a postscript to that Kolkata carnage that deserves to resonate every bit as loudly. It was power and poetry, supremely soundtracked once again by Ian Bishop on commentary, as Brathwaite brought West Indies hope where there had been despair, only to fail in the most poignant and fitting manner. Hell of a catch from Trent Boult too.

Nagraj Gollapudi: Lasith Malinga's 4 for 43 against England.

Wow moment

Ugra: Sarfaraz's catch to dismiss Ross Taylor. A defiant response to predictability, prediction and a salute to the mind-calming effects of yawning.

Miller: Mitchell Starc's inswinging yorker to Ben Stokes. Utter perfection at a critical phase of the game. England were already up against it, but Stokes was fighting back and did not look like being dislodged by conventional means. It took a stunning delivery to do just that, curling into the base of off stump so late that the only moment it was ever aligned with the wicket was the actual moment of impact.

Gardner: Carlos Brathwaite remembering his fame and taking apart Matt Henry - brutal and brilliant (despite falling short)

Bal: Starc to Stokes. Irresistible. Stokes could have watched a video of that ball a moment before and it would have still got him.

Gripping phase of play

Miller: Pakistan's on-it-like-a-bonnet opening gambit against New Zealand. There is simply no more thrilling sight in sport than that band of emotion junkies all finding their mojos at exactly the same time. Amir's first-ball wicket, Shaheen's pace and fire, Sarfaraz's stunning catch! Name. On. The. Trophy.

Bal: Warner and Finch v England's new ball bowlers. Overcast skies, greenish pitch, nerves, boos, big plot and multiple subplots, plays and misses, edges, umpire's call, but not a wicket lost.

Gardner: The matchwinning partnership between Babar Azam and Haris Sohail against New Zealand. Slow, turn, slow burn amid a cacophony of noise and green flags - just what the tournament needed.

Gollapudi: Carlos Brathwaite reminding himself he belongs - when he hauled West Indies from a hopeless situation to the doorstep of victory before lofting.


Ugra: Sri Lanka! Pakistan! And the pleasure of being proved totally wrong. I said a week ago that the 21st century uber planners and data crunchers would always triumph over chaos and random sparks of talent. Maybe eventually but not always. May the boilovers thrive.

Gollapudi: The Babar Azam-Haris Sohail partnership - both men showed resolve, intent, courage to surprise New Zealand.

Bal: Can't say we weren't warned, but still, who would have seen this coming? Pakistan are not merely alive, but have the force with them, and the belief.

Gardner: Sri Lanka nailing England at Headingley. Looked like a regulation chase, until Lasith Malinga rose from the Palaeozoic

Miller: Nope, nothing surprised me this week… nothing at all.

Tactical Masterstoke

Gardner: Australia whistling up Jason Behrendorff from The Leftorium and straight into a five-wicket haul against England at Lord's.

Sharda Ugra: Masterstroke? Not! Pakistan deciding to give the legendary Shoaib Malik a chance to rest and bring Haris Sohail into their line-up to produce an innings of sparkle that set in motion the events to turn Pakistan's struggling WC2019 campaign around. At various times Haris has been called Pakistan's 'second-best' and 'third-best' batsman. Yet not picked for at least three games to make room for their seventh or eighth or ninth-best batsman.

Miller: Jason Behrendorff's overdue inclusion in Australia's ranks. Up until that point, Australia had been fudging their selection, sneaking Nathan Coulter-Nile into the mix as a neither-one-thing-nor-the-other bits-and-pieces allrounder - Tom Moody may have got away with it in two World Cup wins, but it wasn't going to wash against the batting line-ups at the sharp end of this competition. Instead, with an extra attacking seamer to complement Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, Australia have just clicked up an extra gear.

Bal: Not really a masterstroke, but essential course correction. That Shoaib Malilk was ahead of Haris Sohail in the playing XI now beggars belief.

Facepalm moment

Miller: England's failed attempt to flex their muscles in the hugely damaging defeat to Sri Lanka. God alone knows what was going through their minds as they were made to realise that chasing 233 against a resurgent Lasith Malinga was not going to be a breeze. But surely they must have known that batting the overs would win them the game. Instead they tried to be assertive and shipped wicket after wicket. Moeen Ali's ugly smear to long-off was particularly culpable.

Gardner: Moeen Ali trying to clear long-off against SL, having nearly holed out to deep midwicket the ball before. D'oh no, Mo!

Gollapudi: MS Dhoni joining the dots against Afghanistan.

Bal: Chris Gayle holing out to long-on against New Zealand. Symptomatic of the West Indian World Cup campaign: when in, trouble swing hard.