The 2015 Cricket World Cup is approaching the end of its first week and already there have been a number of heavyweight clashes. Australia, South Africa, India and New Zealand all backed up their favorites tags with opening wins, with India defeating Pakistan in perhaps the tournament’s most-anticipated match up and likely its most watched. But, adding spice to the competition, there has also been an upset defeat for one of cricket’s established teams, with the West Indies succumbing to those frequent giant-killers Ireland.
Here’s a look at the upcoming matches heading into this weekend, and when and how to watch them for viewers in the U.S.
Zimbabwe vs. UAE (Saxton Oval, Nelson, Wednesday, 5 p.m. EST)
The United Arab Emirates will become the final nations to debut in the World Cup, when they take on a Zimbabwe side that went down to South Africa in their opener. Indeed, not only will it be the UAE’s first appearance in this competition, it will be their first match at a World Cup in 19 years. In their first and thus far only showing in one-day cricket’s biggest stage, the UAE could only muster a victory over the Netherlands before exiting at the group phase. They will be viewing the match with Zimbabwe as perhaps their best chance of scoring a significant scalp this time around. However, the performance of Zimbabwe against South Africa suggests the UAE may have to look elsewhere for a victory. Zimbabwe had South Africa in real problems at one stage before falling to a 62-run defeat, but their performance earned praise from opposition captain AB de Villiers.
England vs. New Zealand (Wellington Regional Stadium, Thursday, 8 p.m. EST)
England will be looking to get off the mark in the tournament when they face off against on Pool A pace-setters New Zealand. Their duel with Australia on the opening day very much went as expected, with England’s poor recent record against their long-time foes Down Under continuing in a convincing 111-run defeat. But Eoin Morgan’s side may be encouraged by what they have seen from the co-hosts so far. Tipped by many to go a long way in the tournament on home soil, New Zealand have started with two wins out of two, but after seeing off Sri Lanka, they struggled to put away Scotland. Against a country without a win in the history of the World Cup, New Zealand’s batting failed to impress in losing seven wickets while chasing down a meager target of 143.
Pakistan vs. West Indies (Hagley Oval, Christchurch, Friday, 5 p.m. EST)
Both countries need to rebound quickly after painful opening defeats. The case is particularly severe for the West Indies after suffering a four-wicket loss to non-test nation Ireland. Having come into the World Cup embroiled in familiar turmoil, and with some notable players being left at home, they now face a major challenge just to make it through to the quarterfinals. Pakistan will still fancy their chances of progressing from Pool B, but will have to get over yet another loss to fierce rivals India at the World Cup. To do that they will need an improved batting performance, after Misbah-Ul-Haq chased down India’s total almost single-handedly in Adelaide.
Australia vs. Bangladesh (Brisbane Cricket Ground, Friday, 10:30 p.m. EST)
Co-hosts Australia will expect to have little trouble backing up their opening win when going up against Bangladesh in Brisbane. Australia, favorites to reclaim the trophy they won three consecutive times between 1999 and 2007, lived up to expectations when brushing England aside at a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground. There will be no compassion shown for the man who led them to that win, though, with stand-in skipper George Bailey likely to lose both the captaincy and his place in the side to the returning Michael Clarke. The long-time leader of Australia underwent surgery on a hamstring problem two months ago. Whatever lineup they select, Australia will be expected to make it two wins from two matches, although Afghanistan should be in confident and relaxed mood after comfortably seeing off Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka vs. Afghanistan (Uni Oval, Dunedin, Saturday, 5 p.m. EST)
Following a rapid rise from the bottom of cricket’s pyramid to the heights of the World Cup, Afghanistan were dealt a reality check in their opening match with a 105-run defeat to Bangladesh. Still, there were some positives to take from the performance, with Afghanistan showing that their bowling attack could hold its own in the competition by dismissing Bangladesh for 267. That gave them a chance of pulling off an upset, but their batting collapsed to post just 162 in response. They now take on a Sri Lanka side that will be in no mood for a slip up after defeat to New Zealand.
South Africa vs. India (MCG, Melbourne, Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EST)
Sunday sees another of the group phase’s eagerly anticipated matchups when holders India take on leading contenders for the 2015 crown, South Africa. After a woeful run of form leading into the World Cup, India hinted they could still be a real force in the competition by seeing off Pakistan in a win inspired by a century for star man Virat Kohli. But, while that victory saw them continue their perfect record against Pakistan in World Cups, the shoe will now be on the other foot against a nation that has beaten India in all three of their World Cup meetings. It would be a major shock if both countries weren’t to ease through to the quarterfinals, but the contest at the famed MCG provides India and South Africa with the chance to make a statement about their title aspirations.
TV info: DISH Network, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable subscribers can watch each match via pay per view. More info here.