It\’s one match down — a win by co-host New Zealand over Sri Lanka — and 48 more to go at the Cricket World Cup.
In cold, blustery conditions at Christchurch on New Zealand\’s South Island, the home team beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs on Saturday to open the six-week-long tournament.
Sri Lanka won the toss and sent New Zealand in to bat, but soon regretted that decision as Brendon McCullum made 65 runs and Corey Anderson hit 75 from 46 balls to lift New Zealand to 331-6. Sri Lanka was all out for 233 runs in 46.1 overs in reply.
In the second match, England and heavily favored Australia were playing before a crowd of 90,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where the final is scheduled to be contested on March 29. After being sent in to bat, Australia reached 342-9 from 50 overs, with Aaron Finch scoring 135 and Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey posting half centuries. Steven Finn (5-71) finished with a hat-trick, having three batsmen caught out swinging on the last three balls of the innings.
One of Sunday\’s two matches feature old rivals India and Pakistan, uneasy neighbors politically who also have a long history on the cricket field. Pakistan leads overall in their limited-overs international meetings, but defending champion India has a 100-percent record so far in their five World Cup matches.
The match at Adelaide, capital of South Australia state, prompted some detente back home — India is sending its top foreign ministry official to Pakistan to resume talks after a six-month hiatus.
Taking advantage of the World Cup, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted Friday he spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the phone and offered to further strengthen ties. Relations between the two countries have been strained since the partition of British India in 1947 and numerous military conflicts over the ensuing decades.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said the secret to success will be to ignore all the fuss — on and off the field.
"I think it is the way to go that you just don\’t take anything into the ground when you are playing against India," he said. "You don\’t have to worry about what\’s happening outside, what\’s going on in the countries. I think you need to focus (entirely) on your game."
In the other match Sunday, South Africa opens against Zimbabwe at Hamilton, New Zealand.
The tournament is being played in 14 cities across Australia and New Zealand. There will be 42 matches played in the group stage by the two seven-team pools, followed by quarterfinals and semifinals before the March 29 title game.
First played in England in 1975 and held usually every four years, Australia has won the World Cup four times, the most of any country. India is the defending champion from 2011.
Meanwhile, players at this year\’s World Cup have been given a video warning about match-fixing, and the featured athlete in the production is banned New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent.
"My name is Lou Vincent and I am a cheat" is part of Vincent\’s warning to players and team officials.
Vincent, who appeared for about 30 seconds in footage, was banned for life last year by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
The 35-year-old Vincent, who played 23 tests and more than 100 limited-overs internationals, pleaded guilty to 18 match-fixing or spot-fixing charges involving matches he played for two English county teams. Eleven of the 18 offenses carried life bans.