Tuesday 8 April 2014 

Comment - 22 Days Of Pure Entertainment

Sri Lanka celebrate
Joy unconfined for the Sri Lankans as they finally won a global tournament for the first time since 1996
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

Israr Ahmed Hashmi reviews the ICC World Twenty20 2014, calling it '22 days of pure entertainment, from match one to the final.'

2nd April 2011: India and Sri Lanka are battling for the greatest feather in a cricketing nation’s hat, the ODI Cricket World Cup. After nearly three years, they meet in another final, this time for the shortest format.

Sri Lanka had a history of losing their last four ICC finals but brilliant Lasith Malinga and somehow Kumar Sangakara overturned the misfortune and Sri Lanka finally win an ICC Trophy after their ODI World Cup win 1996.

22 days of pure entertainment, from match one to the final, it got better and better with each passing hour. Here, I bring you the shinning and the glittering highlights of this year’s WT20, the moments we will remember for a long time.

Team of the Tournament

Sri Lanka may have defeated India but they were far behind India to be the Team of the Tournament. India outplayed its opponent in nearly all of the matches (except the final where Sri Lanka got the better of them).

They were undefeated in the tournament before the final. Their batters never disappointed them (they usually don’t) and their bowling, which has been their weakest link in recent times, was probably the best of any team in the entire tournament. To prove my point, Indian bowlers took 35 wickets in the tournament, two less than the most (37 by the Netherlands). The Netherlands, however, played one more game than India and faced weaker teams.

They gave 6.75 RPO, only bettered by Nepal, Sri Lanka and West Indies. Their fielders made 28 dismissals - bettered by the Dutch again. When batting, they scored eight half-century partnerships (the most) – equalled by the Dutch again. They also recorded the most individual half-centuries.

All in all, they had the best tournament they have ever had.

Batsman of the Tournament

No surprises! It can’t be any other than Virat Kohli. From match one against Pakistan to the final against Sri Lanka, Virat never failed to score runs. He scored 319 runs in the six games of the tournament - easily the most by anyone, in fact the most anyone has scored in a single WT20.

He was in the form of his life. Every bowler looked like Ashish Nehra or Mohammad Sami to him. He played his shots at will, mixed aggression with defence and smashed them all around the park.

Bowler of the Tournament

It is a tough one but Imran Tahir came on top beating Samuel Badree, Ravichandran Ashwin and Sunil Narine. In 20 overs he took 12 wickets at less than 11 balls per wicket – Tahir was outstanding. He played with skill, bowled every ball with daring and made the batsmen work hard for every run.

Against big bats and small boundaries, he fooled them all and gave away 6.55 RPO. The best of his contribution came against Netherlands. At 82 for two and needing 64 in 69 balls, the Dutch sensed an upset but Tahir had other ideas. His tight and wristy bowling reduced them to 118 for seven and finally got South Africa over the line with a six-run victory.

Batting Innings of the Tournament

Match 12 - Netherlands vs Ireland. The fates of three teams depended on this match. One from Ireland, the Netherlands or Zimbabwe could reach the Super 10s. Ireland batted first and posted 189. Netherlands had to chase it in 14.2 overs or they were out.

Ireland thought they have done enough. Stephan Myburgh opened with Peter Borren for Netherlands. Myburgh pushed his first ball towards the off-side for the single. In the next 10 balls, he smashed six sixes and a four (44 runs to be precise). This set the tone for Dutchmen and they did what was least expected of them – successfully chased the target inside 14.2 overs.

Stephan Myburgh scored 63 off 23 balls (four fours, seven sixes) at a strike-rate of 274. One of the best T20I innings the world ever saw!

Bowling Spell of the Tournament

New Zealand were on course to chase South Africa’s 170 with the well-settled Ross Taylor on 62 and only five down in the 19th over. There were seven runs to defend in the last over, Dale Steyn took two wickets, bowled two dot balls and effected a run out; the only scoring shot was a four.

Six of the Tournament

The world still talks about that MS Dhoni six against Sri Lanka that made India world champions after 28 years but it was Sri Lanka's turn this time. Ashwin had the ball, Sri Lanka needed three off 14 balls.

Ashwin went pass the umpire, released the ball. Thisara Perera came down the track, reached the pitch of the ball and BOOM! SIX! Overjoyed Perera punched the air in excitement and the tables were turned on MS Dhoni and India.

Ball of the Tournament

South Africa batted first in the second semi-final against India. Hashim Amla had scored 22 off 15. South Africa were looking good enough to post a big total against the Indian batsmen. MS Dhoni gave the ball to Ashwin. He started with a wide. Next ball, he bowled the carrom ball that pitched well outside leg, Amla plays for it, but the ball has turned more than he expects, and has pegged back the off stump - similar to what Shane Warne did to Andrew Strauss. The world will surely talk about this for a very long time.

Celebration of the Tournament

The do or die game for the West Indies and Australia. A win would have kept their hopes alive for a berth in the semis. Australia posted 178. West Indies needed nine off the last six. Sammy faced, Faulkner to bowl. Before the match, Faulkner had said that he didn’t like the West Indies. He now had a great opportunity to show it on field.

Dot Ball. Dot Ball. Boom, SIX! Three off three needed. Faulkner went full and straight but Sammy bludgeoned it down the ground. West Indies invade the field. Gayle went mad. He was toppled over by his team-mates on the way to rushing out, but once he's back up he breaks out the Gangnam. It was the aggressive gangnam. Windies were pumped up!  A Caribbean reply to haters!

Record Low of the Tournament

The Netherlands, fresh from their thrilling win against the Irish, were humbled at the start of the Super 10s. Sri Lanka played their first match against the Dutch. People have changed their opinion about the Dutch. They are no more underdogs. But Sri Lanka are the number one team in this format and right from the first ball they showed why are they on top.

Wickets fall at regular intervals. After 63 balls in the match, the Netherlands were all out for 39 – the lowest ever T20I score by any team.

Upset of the Tournament

England was already out of the semi-final race. England against the Netherlands was just a dead rubber. England restricted Netherlands to 133 for five and it looked like they will easily chase it and salvage some pride.

But the Dutch, who had had a dream WT20 thus far weren’t switched off yet. Tight and disciplined bowling by Mudassar Bukhari and Luuk van Beek saw England collapse to 88 all out.

The Netherlands became the first Associate team to beat the same Test nation twice in T20Is.

And Nature showed its wrath

The first semi-final between Sri Lanka and the West Indies was in full swing. Suddenly, during the second innings the wind roared, sending a cloud of dust into the stadium.

Then the roof started to clatter. Sammy would later say it felt as if someone was throwing stones. It was instead raining hailstones almost the size of golf balls. Brave were the groundsmen who took a serious pounding in the middle while placing the covers on the square, even as the outfield turned white around them.

What were your tournament highlights? Let us know by leaving a comment below...

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