Cricket World Cup 2015: England are failing to recognise that 300 often isn't enough

Sri Lanka chased down 310 at a canter against Peter Moores' side

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The Independent Online

In the very first World Cup fixture in 1975 England batted first against India at Lords, and posted 334-4 in their 60 overs thanks to 137 from Dennis Amiss.

So ludicrous was the prospect of chasing such a total that their opponents simply refused to even try, instead crawling their way to 132-3, with Sunil Gavaskar carrying his bat for a notorious 36 not out off 174 balls (a strike rate of 20.68).

On Sunday, England took 10 less overs to post 309-6, Joe Root anchoring the innings with a superb 121.

Sri Lanka chased it down with 16 balls to spare for the loss of a single wicket, Kumar Sangakkara barely breaking sweat on his way to an unflustered 117 not out off 86 balls.

The game has changed.

Gone are the days when 300 was the benchmark. In the first eight World Cups, teams posted scores over 300 on 26 occasions. It resulted in victory all but once, when Sri Lanka chased 313 against Zimbabwe in 1992. Since 2007, such targets have been successfully chased five times.

The graphic below shows that, since the World Cup adopted 50-over cricket in 1987 and fielding restrictions in 1992, what was once the holy grail of ODI cricket has increasingly become the norm.Teams have already reached the milestone 14 times in this tournament, almost one in three innings. Of these, six totals were over 330, each time leading to victory by more than fifty runs.

England, however, do not seem to have realised that the goalposts have moved. Against Scotland, they were 200-1 after 34 overs, a total of 350-plus well within the team's grasp. Instead, Peter Moores' side limped to 303-8.

On Sunday, Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell failed to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the middle overs, leaving too much work for Root and the sparkling Jos Buttler to do to post a truly imposing target.

England do not have AB de Villiers, who plundered 162 off 66 balls as South Africa posted 408 against the West Indies, or a Brendan McCullum or Chris Gayle to get their innings off to a flyer.

But they need to find a way to convert their solid starts into match-winning totals. Because in the modern game, 300 often just isn't enough.

The six highest World Cup chases

Ireland 329/7 vs England, 2011

Sri Lanka 313/7 vs Zimbabwe, 1992

Sri Lanka 312/1 vs England, 2015

Ireland 307/4 vs Netherlands, 2011

Ireland 307/6 vs West Indies, 2015

England 301/9 vs West Indies, 2007

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