From Mirpur in Bangladesh, Chetan Narula reviews the latest ICC World Twenty20 action, and the day when India beat Bangladesh to reach the semi-finals, and the West Indies almost knocked Australia out.
A six-wicket loss for Australia against the West Indies means that they are now dependent on Bangladesh beating Pakistan to have any hopes of a semi-final berth. India meanwhile became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals after beating Bangladesh comfortably by eight wickets.
Contest of the Day
There was nothing else to watch on Friday, except how the West Indies would respond to the jibes of James Faulkner.
"I don’t like them," he had said ahead of the clash with the defending champions. It is quite possible that after conceding those 12 runs off only the first four balls of the final over, Faulkner likes them even less.
Then again, he himself is responsible for his fate, given Darren Sammy’s comments post-game: "You never wake up a sleeping lion!"
The West Indies skipper was of course referring the Chris Gayle, as the star batsman returned to ‘form’ after two uncharacteristic knocks in the first two matches.
Against India, he had scored 34 runs off 33 balls and in the game against Bangladesh, 48 off 48 balls. On this night though, the real Gayle came to the fore and smacked a fifty off only 30-odd deliveries. He was back doing what the T20 format knows him for - assaulting bowlers at will.
In doing so, he set up the necessary momentum for the Windies to chase a tall score, which is vital whenever you are trying to scale a peak that is nearly as high as 180 runs.
They lost momentum in the middle, with Gayle, Lendl Simmons and Marlon Samuels departing in quick succession. But with 31 needed off 12 balls, they also had the right batsman at the crease. In recent times, Sammy has become one of the deadliest batsmen in the middle and death overs in this format.
And he showed exactly why, when he brought down the equation to 12 off 6 balls, taking 19 runs off that penultimate over from Mitchell Starc.
Then, with Faulkner stepping up for the last over, it was all about who will have the last laugh. The first two deliveries were dots but in truth they set things up beautifully. Sammy realized that Faulkner was going full and he got under the next two deliveries, thumping them for monster sixes.
The game was done and some angry celebrations broke out!
Player of the Day
Look no further than Sammy for this as well. While Gayle and Glenn Maxwell performed for their teams as well as him, if not more, the Windies captain trumps them simply because of how he carries the burden of leadership. And that is, with a smile!
Faulkner’s comments are bound to have made the Windies squad angry, as was seen from their post-match histrionics. Yet, Sammy was calm until the moment he knew that Australia was beaten.
Until he knew that his shot would sail over the boundary, he did not start running towards the dugout. Even before the match, he only spoke about actions on the field rather than indulging in a war of words.
That is the hallmark of a true leader. And Sammy has done this for a while now, braving all kinds of storm in West Indies cricket. It is a surprise that up until the last World T20 in Sri Lanka, his very place in this squad was under a question mark. Today, anybody who thinks that Sammy is expendable knows nothing about cricket.
At the time of writing, New Zealand had beaten Netherlands. It solidified their position in the points table, but much depends on the latter game on Saturday. England take on South Africa at Chittagong and it is virtually a quarter-final for the latter. If the Proteas win, they move on to six points, knocking out England. Then the winner of New Zealand versus Sri Lanka on Tuesday will join them in the semis.
If England beat South Africa, knocking them out and then go on to beat the Netherlands, then against all expectations they will reach the semi-finals. Then again, it will be between New Zealand and Lanka to figure out who will be the second team to join them.
This was supposed to be the group of death instead it is less muddled than the first one. India are already through, but who will join them depends on a few permutations and combinations.
If Pakistan beat Bangladesh, then Australia will be knocked out. Then it will be between Pakistan and West Indies to clash on Tuesday and decide the other semi-finalist. Then, if the West Indies win, and India lose to Australia on Sunday, then the defending champions will go through as the top-ranked team.
If Bangladesh beat Pakistan, then Australia will stay alive. The latter though will still have to beat both India and the hosts to have a chance of qualifying, and if they do, they will then enter a triangle if Pakistan beat West Indies on Tuesday.
The business end of the tournament is here.
© Cricket World 2014