England faced high expectations as the reigning champions leading into their Cricket World Cup opener against New Zealand in Ahmedabad.
However, a disappointing performance with both bat and ball saw England fall to a heavy nine-wicket defeat to the Black Caps, a timely reminder of the size of the challenge ahead for the English to retain their title.
Toothless England Found Out In Ahmedabad
In a replay of the most thrilling World Cup final imaginable in 2019, England and New Zealand faced off again in their opening game of this year’s major tournament. England is +500 in the cricket betting to retain the title they won on home soil four years ago, but they will have to improve significantly to reach the final this time.
Head coach Matthew Mott saw his side post a total of 282-9 in their 50 overs, with Joe Root the standout performer with 77 runs.
Skipper Jos Buttler contributed 43 runs to the cause from 42 deliveries, but there was little else to write home about from an English batting perspective. No batter was out for single figures, but too many players got themselves in without kicking on to post big scores.
New Zealand produced an impressive performance with the bat in hand to cruise past England’s total with 13.4 overs to spare. Devon Conway was the highest-scoring Kiwi on the day, with his unbeaten 152 runs guiding the Black Caps to an impressive victory in Ahmedabad.
The 32-year-old coped well with England’s bowling attack and helped New Zealand hit the ground running at this tournament.
Root Calls For Calm After Opener
England can’t afford to get too down about their opening defeat — they have been here before in World Cup group stages. The English lost three games in the group stage at the last World Cup in 2019 before winning the title with a nail-biting victory over New Zealand.
Yorkshire batter Root admitted the defeat was a “bump in the road” but stated England needed to stay “authentic” to their cricket philosophy. England have established themselves as a formidable force in white-ball cricket. Winning the last ODI World Cup, England are also T20 world champions after their success at the Australia 2022.
England is blessed with several experienced players who know what it takes to bounce back from disappointing results at major tournaments. England also missed all-rounder and Test skipper Ben Stokes for that opening game against New Zealand.
Stokes had been recovering from a hip injury, but the match in Ahmedabad came too soon for the Durham star. England will be hoping his return later in the tournament can provide a boost and lead to more positive results.
It was far from the ideal start for the reigning champions in India, and England will hope to have learned from their experience as they look to delve far into this World Cup in the subcontinent.