Matt Carter rounds off his analysis of the ICC World Twenty20 2014, summing up his view of the competition with 13 more talking points.
Never has the selection for player of the tournament been so clear cut at a World Twenty20 event, with daylight and further daylight second and third respectively to Virat Kohli.
No player has ever scored more runs in a Word Twenty20, whilst Rohit Sharma the second highest run-scorer excluding those who participated in the initial group stage, was 119 short of the total Kohli achieved.
Twenty20 cricket is not considered a format where leading players are typified by consistency yet Kohli scored with alarming dependability, his lowest score on the way to a staggering tournament average of 106 being a respectable 23 against Australia.
Twenty20 cricket is a game based around momentum and pressure, unfortunately out of sorts duo Marlon Samuels and Yuvraj Singh could only derail the former and heighten the latter during scratchy innings in both the semi-finals and the final respectively.
Both have played pivotal World Cup winning knocks yet their plights outlined how difficult this format can be for struggling batsmen - even the analogy of hit out or get out is easier said than done. In India’s case question marks must be asked over why Suresh Raina was not sent in following Rohit Sharma’s departure.
The toils of both Yuvraj and Samuels highlights the importance of allowing your most in-form players maximum crease time and the dangers that keeping faith with those struggling can bring.
Only once had India been asked to set a target prior to Sunday’s final and that came against an Australian side who were already eliminated, however even on that occasion their target setting was hardly seamless as they struggled to 77 for four off 13 overs before Yuvraj and MS Dhoni hauled them to a respectable 159 – thanks in part to some slack death bowling from Australia.
A flawless Sri Lanka were not so accommodating as India laboured to a disappointing 130, dealing the kind of stifling job that had characterised the runner-ups route to the final. India clearly prefer to chase, having chosen to bat on each occasion they have won the toss since the last World Twenty20 – at the same time the three times they have lost during this period have come when batting first.
To his credit Darren Sammy remained gracious following his country’s rain-affected semi-final defeat, deep down though there must have been frustration in the manner of West Indies exit.
When the unexpected storm did come the Windies were chasing a highly improbable 85 from 42 balls with Dwayne Bravo having just departed, however the advancements of the modern game where it is not uncommon for 20 to be launched off a single over mean that such a chase is no longer impossible – particularly with Sammy at the crease.
West Indies' batting approach in this tournament has been based around devastating assaults in the final furlongs, so brutal have these onslaughts been that they are virtually impossible for Duckworth/Lewis to account for.
Chasing 12 an over in a semi-final against a firing Sri Lanka would likely have proved a bridge too far even for their late hitting, but few would have predicted Sammy and Bravo to slaughter 82 off the final five overs in the manner they did against Pakistan – had rain arrived at the same stage of that game Duckworth/Lewis would have predicted them to fall 32 short of what the eventually got.
In the space of one over a Twenty20 game can change course significantly and with such unpredictability in mind it has to be questioned whether Duckworth/Lewis is still fit for purpose in this format.
There is a long-running perception that the way to bowl at Suresh Raina is to bang it in short, this though is now a flawed tactic particularly on pitches such as the one in Mirpur.
For one Raina is expecting it and secondly even if he does top edge one eventually, this is a method that will not keep the run rate down. South Africa and Wayne Parnell witnessed first-hand the dangers of such a short ball barrage, at the start of Parnell’s 17th over India needed 40 off 24 balls and the game was in the balance – by the end of it just 23 were needed and it was gone.
Beating an India side performing at near optimum level on a sub-continental surface was always going to be an uphill task for South Africa, particularly considering they had excelled to even make it this far.
The Proteas produced a valiant effort with the bat and fielded in typically inspired fashion yet they were let down by bowling indiscipline, sending down nine wides - which taking into account the runs scored off the extra deliveries, cost a hefty 23 runs.
In a game of small margins where they were already battling against the odds, this was a hindrance that South Africa simply couldn’t afford and one that went someway to contributing to their downfall.
At 41 for two, Sri Lanka, with four successive major tournament final defeats in the back of their minds were looking nervous and in need of assurance - step forward Kumar Sangakkara.
43 off 31 balls on the face of it might not appear a monumental achievement for a player with the glittering history of Sangakkara, but considering the high pressure situation and his wretched form it will rank amongst the most pivotal.
From the moment he arrived at the crease steely eyed, there was a sense that by hook or by crook Sangakkara would get his side over the line and so it proved – it was some way off the aesthetically pleasing innings that have typified his career, yet like all great players the keeper found a way to get his side across the line.
At 78 for four and still needing 53 off 45 balls Sri Lanka were teetering, when the destructive yet flaky Thisara Perera strode out ahead of the dependable Angelo Matthews. Sri Lankan hearts were in their mouths.
This was a significant gamble, for another quick wicket would have heaped pressure on to a shaky Sri Lanka yet it was one that paid dividends – 35 balls and three giant Perera blows later the game was done with over two overs to spare and any tetchiness had transformed to elation.
The death bowling drew the plaudits in Sunday’s success over India, while it was the spinners who shone in that incredible turnaround against New Zealand – but the manner in which Sri Lanka have conducted themselves in the field should not be downplayed when dissecting their success.
In a tournament that has in large chunks been personified by lacklustre fielding, the Sri Lankans have given next to nothing away – for instance during that stifling of India alone there were numerous occasions where what appeared destined boundaries were avoided whilst superb groundwork played a significant part in India’s problems of getting past the infield.
Perhaps the most pivotal decision in Sri Lanka's victorious campaign was to recall Rangana Herath and drop Ajantha Mendis for the virtual quarter-final against New Zealand.
Mendis' inconsistencies allowed opponents a weak link to target and gain momentum from – England scoring 52 and South Africa 44 off the mystery spinner. The wily
Herath is an altogether more reliable and intelligent bowler, with his inclusion helping form a compact water tight attack that was arguably the major factor in their success – Herath and Sachithra Senanayake boasting economy rates of below five and Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara conceded runs at less than 6.5 per over.
The man synonymous with the crash-bang-wallop nature of Twenty20 cricket since its inception cut a pale imitation of his former self in Bangladesh. In five innings the Jamaican’s strike rate was down at 107.5 – 32.8 runs short of his career record prior to the tournament.
Gayle struggled for rhythm throughout; rotation of the strike was more non-existent than ever, the once regular customary lusty blows were few and far between and the unique ability to move through gears with alarming ease deserted him.
As a result the West Indies persistently suffered sluggish starts, which was a substantial factor in their demise.
Whether this slide is only temporary or Gayle has truly subsided only time will tell.
Once again the World Twenty20 delivered a short snappy spectacle that should satisfy even the most hardened expectations of what a tournament needs to thrive.
The cricket was compelling with several superb individual performances and numerous thrilling games, while the passionate Bangladeshi crowds brought a captivating vociferous atmosphere. There were countless enthralling stories, from the success of the associates to the romanticism of Sri Lanka finally ending years of hurt to emotionally lift the trophy.
Most importantly this was a tournament that never grew tiresome - like all successful tournaments should it left a feeling of wanting more rather relief that it had finally concluded.
The 50-over World Cup could certainly learn a trick from its younger brother.
A glance through the squads of each of the four semi-finalists alone disparages the view point that Twenty20 cricket does not require a unique skill set.
The champions Sri Lanka possessed a glut of players who would not be rated near the elite of the Test game but whose skills specifically compliment the shortest format such as Thisara and Kushal Perera.
It is a similar story for West Indies where for the mainstay of their squad Twenty20 is their strongest format, while for South Africa Imran Tahir after a failed Test career came out as the tournament's leading wicket-taker to further highlight the disparity between what skills are essential to succeed in each format.
Further afield Alex Hales rebuffed all those arguing against England selecting such 20 over specialists by producing arguably the greatest Twenty20 innings by an Englishman with a century against Sri Lanka.
Of course there are ample players who shine across all formats, but selectors need to choose sides primarily based on their ability across 20 overs.
© Cricket World 2014