Conway (152*), Ravindra (123*) crush holders England in World Cup opener

SUMMARY: England 282-9 from 50 overs (Joe Root 77, Jos Buttler 43, Jonny Bairstow 33; Matt Henry 3-48, Glenn Phillips 2-17, Mitchell Santner 2-37) vs New Zealand 283-1 from 36.2 overs (Devon Conway 152*, Rachin Ravindra 123*)


England’s defence of their 50-over World Cup title began with a nine-wicket hammering at the hands of New Zealand in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

The rematch of the final four years ago offered none of the tension of that Lord’s epic with the Black Caps cantering home in pursuit of 283.

They reached their target with 13.4 overs to spare – Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra both hitting stunning centuries.

Conway ended 152 not out and Ravindra unbeaten on 123 as the pair combined for a sensational 273-run partnership – the fourth-highest in men’s World Cup history – which rendered England’s attack toothless.

In contrast, England struggled to 282-9 in a lacklustre batting performance. Joe Root made 77 but a series of soft dismissals checked their progress.

They have to wait until Tuesday for their next match – a meeting with Bangladesh in Dharamshala.

The tournament continues with Pakistan facing Netherlands in Hyderabad on Friday.

New Zealand coasted to victory once Rachin Ravindra (left) and Devon Conway settled in (Photo: Getty Images)

England put to the sword

All is not lost for Jos Buttler’s side.

This tournament follows the same format as the last 50-over World Cup, where they lost three times in the 10-team round-robin stage before going on to lift the trophy.

But the way the defeat became increasingly ugly, plus the net run-rate implications, make it a very worrying start.

At halfway their total looked 30 runs below par. Conway and Ravindra’s performance made it look more like 100.

Sam Curran had Will Young caught behind down the leg side for a duck to start the second over of the chase but that was as good as it got for England.

The turnout for the World Cup opener was disappointing (Photo: Getty Images)

A missed chance to run out Conway in the third over the closest they came to another wicket.

Conway latched onto anything short or full – the highlight a glorious straight drive off Mark Wood, whose five overs cost 55.

Fellow left-hander Ravindra, previously with a high score of 61 in international cricket, batted with flamboyance, including one stunning six over Chris Woakes’ head in what became a regular flow of boundaries.

Although the crowd increased throughout, the match began in front of less than 10,000 people and swaths of empty seats at the huge, 130,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium.

England’s performance is not the only thing that must improve at this tournament.

Joe Root was innovative during his half-century (Photo: Getty Images)

Root finds form but others disappoint

England captain Buttler has spoken about wanting his side to “attack” rather than “defend” their title but instead their innings was punctuated by a series of timid dismissals.

Jonny Bairstow was caught lofting spinner Mitchell Santner into the hands of long-off for 33, Buttler sparkled for 43 – including two fine straight sixes – before offering a thin edge trying to glance Matt Henry through gully and Liam Livingstone tamely flicked Boult straight to long-off on 20.

Harry Brook, playing in place of Ben Stokes, who has a hip issue, crashed 25 off 16 before being caught in the deep off an innocuous Ravindra delivery.

Root, who came into tournament in a rare slump in form after making just 39 across his last four innings, attempted to hold England together.

His first six came with one of his trademark reverse ramps and he accumulated well, hitting only four more boundaries, until his dismissal, bowled by Glenn Phillips when attempting a reverse sweep, ended England’s hope of passing 300.

New Zealand’s bowlers were canny.

Henry found movement in a superb opening spell during which he nicked off Dawid Malan for a 24-ball 14, while Santner did not conceded a boundary in taking 2-37.

The Black Caps were without pace bowlers Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee, plus captain Kane Williamson, because of injury, but the part-time spin of Ravindra and Phillips crucially played its part. (BBC Sport)

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