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5 matches to savour from the WT20 Super 10s

By Harish Kotian
March 30, 2016 09:50 IST
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Ahead of the World T20 semifinals, Harish Kotian/Rediff.com lists five games he savoured so far.

The World T20 2016 kicked off with an upset, favourites India being shocked by New Zealand!

Since then the Kiwis have surpassed all expectations, winning all four games in emphatic style and entering the semi-finals as the only unbeaten team in the Super 10s stage of the tournament.

India bounced back from that defeat, by the skin of their teeth, beating Bangladesh by one run.

Then there was the Gayle tornado at the Wankhede when the mighty Jamaican blasted a 47 ball century against England.

Five memorable games I savoured:

India laid low

IMAGE: Nathan McCullum, fourth from right, congratulated by team-mates after getting rid of Shikhar Dhawan in Nagpur, March 15, 2016. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Chasing a mere 127, on a turning surface at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium, the hosts were dismissed for 79.

In the process, New Zealand extended its unbeaten run against India in T20 games to five in as many meetings.

It was the lowest total India failed to chase down in a 20 over game, and its second lowest in the format.

The All Blacks spinners -- Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi -- crafted the unexpected rout, taking 9 wickets between them.

Opting to bat first, New Zealand posted 126/7, seemingly a below par total against the Indians.

The first three balls of the game previewed the drama and excitement fans expected from the championship.

Martin Guptill nonchalantly hit Ravichandran Ashwin's first delivery over the bowler's head for a six. The off-spinner settled scores with the very next delivery, trapping the batsman leg before with one that, replays suggested, would have gone over the stumps.

New man in Colin Munro reverse hit the next ball for a six, but threw his wicket in the next over.

As wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Corey Anderson (34) steadied the innings. Luke Ronchi's 11-ball cameo (21 not out) took the Kiwis past the 125 mark.

Indian fans expected the chase to be a stroll in the park, but Santner, adjudged man of the match, and McCullum had other ideas.

They blew away India's top order, reducing them to 26/4 in the 5th over.

Virat Kohli (23) resisted the collapse for a while, then Sodhi struck a crucial blow with his first delivery to send back the Indian batting mainstay.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni waged a lone battle with a run-a-ball 30, but the celebrated finisher could not get his team over the line.

The Kiwis beat the Indians at their own game -- spinners claiming 9 of the 10 wickets -- but Dhoni insisted the defeat was more down to his team's careless batting.

Gayle's hurricane hundred

IMAGE: Chris Gayle hits a six against England in Mumbai, March 16, 2016. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Chris Gayle's sensational unbeaten century, studded with 11 towering sixes, ensured the West Indies won a comprehensive 6 wicket win over England at the Wankhede Stadium.

Chasing a challenging 183 for victory -- after England, propelled by a sparkling 48 from Joe Root, posted 182/6 after being put in to bat -- the Windies romped home in 18.1 overs on the back of the left-hander's bludgeon bat.

En route, the Jamaican brought up the fastest century in World T20s (off just 47 balls), and bettered his own record (a ton in 50 balls), set in 2007.

England spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, hampered by the dew that made the ball difficult to grip, were at the receiving end of Gayle's blitzkrieg. Ali was hit for three consecutive sixes in an over in which he gave away 22 runs.

Afridi gives Pakistan a flying start

IMAGE: Shahid Afridi celebrates with team-mates after taking a wicket against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens, March 16, 2016. Photograph: PTI

Shahid Afridi led by example as Pakistan put the typically tumultuous build-up behind them with a 55 run victory over qualifiers Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens.

Pakistan posted a strong 201/5 after opting to bat first and restricted their opponents to 146/6.

The 25,000-plus crowd, comprising it seemed die-hard Afridi fans, were in awe as Pakistan's skipper blasted a 19-ball 49 and returned to take 2/27 with his super-fast leg breaks.

On a batsman friendly track, 'Boom Boom' Afridi justified his villing as balls disappeared into the stands. He hit four sixes and an equal number of boundaries, his knock being the difference between 150 and 200.

It was a personally satisfying outing for the flamboyant 36-year-old (yes, he is 36!) all-rounder. Besides giving a fitting reply to criticism over comments he had made on his arrival in India, he tasted sweet revenge. Pakistan were ousted from the Asia Cup by Mashrafe Mortaza's men only a couple of weeks ago.

India hold their nerve

IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni runs out Mustafizur Rahman (not in picture) to take India to a memorable victory in Bengaluru, March 23, 2016. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Needing two to win from the last three deliveries, with four wickets in hand and two well-settled batsmen out in the middle, the odds were clearly on a Bangladesh victory.

What followed left everyone stunned and millions in Bangladesh in tears. After two back-to-back boundaries off Hardik Pandya, Mushfiqur Rahman was unable to control his shot and pulled a short ball straight into Shikhar Dhawan's hands at mid-wicket.

Mahmudullah, who was batting on 18 and had crossed over to take the strike when the catch was taken, messed up an easy opportunity to finish off the match.

Pandya bowled a juicy full toss and Mahmudullah, to everyone's surprise, hit it high on the leg side, where Ravindra Jadeja came up with a superb catch.

There was still hope for Bangladesh, with two runs from the last ball, but Shuvagata Hom was unable to get bat on ball off the final delivery. India's captain and wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had taken off his right glove before the ball was bowled, sprinted all the way to break the stumps before non-striker Mustafizur Rahman could make the crease.

The thrilling one run victory is the greatest escape in Indian cricket history.

One over earlier, fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah had bowled an unbelievable 19th over, conceding just six runs, to keep India in the game.

Afghan surprise for the Windies

IMAGE: The Afghan players celebrate their triumph, March 27, 2016. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Afghanistan held its nerve to beat the West Indies by six runs in a Super 10 game in Nagpur. In registering their first victory, the Afghans ruined their opponents' 100 percent record.

After the Windies opted to field, the game's minnows rode an unbeaten 48 off 40 balls from Najibullah Zadran to post 123/7.

Leg-spinner Samuel Badree decimated Afghanistan's top order, taking 3/14 to leave the Pathans struggling on 52/4 in the 10th over, but man of the match Zadran got 4 fours and a six to guide his team to a competitive total.

The Afghan bowlers then saw the team home, off-spinner Mohammad Nabi and leg-spinner Rashid Khan taking two wickets each after left-arm spinner Amir Hamza got the early breakthrough.

Leg-spinner Khan caught Evin Lewis -- who was included in place of the rested Chris Gayle -- off a Hamza delivery for a duck in the third over to leave the Windies at 17/1. Off-spinner Nabi then had top-scorer Dwayne Bravo lbw on 28.

Andre Fletcher retired hurt with a hamstring problem, but was forced to return at the death as the Afghan spinners kept toppling the Windies batsmen.

Khan bowled Marlon Samuels for 5 and had Deenesh Ramdin stumped on 18 to keep the pressure on. Wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad ran out Andre Russell at the non-striker's end on 7 after a mix-up with Darren Sammy.

Nabi then struck again to see off the big-hitting Carlos Brathwaite, who smashed 2 sixes in the penultimate over to leave his team needing 10 runs off the last 6 balls.

Zadran played a major part in Brathwaite's demise, taking a brilliant running catch to send the danger man back to the pavilion for 13 as the Windies, having already qualified for the semi-final before the game, ran out of steam.

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Harish Kotian / Rediff.com

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