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Emotions, controversy and drama at T20 World Cup

Wednesday 27 October 2021 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Afghanistan registered their first win on day three of the Twenty20 World Cup in UAE whereas dark horses Pakistan continued their fine run with another major win on day four.

Game 5

Afghanistan 190 for 4 (Najibullah 59, Gurbaz 46, Zazai, Sharif 2/33) beat Scotland 60 (Munsey 25, Mujeeb 5/20, Rashid 4/9) by 130 runs

If you thought cricket was just a sport, then just ask Afghanistan’s captain Mohammed Nabi who had tears in his eyes when the Afghanistan national anthem was being played before the start of their first World Cup game. The beauty of sport is that it provides a level playing field for talented individuals to express themselves. It’s a safe place where they can forget about all the troubles in their life and be judged solely on the basis of their performance. And what a show Afghanistan put on for us on the night!

Afghanistan won the toss in Sharjah and on a used pitch decided to bat first. Their openers Shahzad and Zazai gave them a flying start. Zazai in particular dispatched three sixes over the mid-wicket boundary, the longest of which was a 101 metres. Gurbaz and Najibullah carried on from where the openers left and Najib did one better that Zazai by smashing a 103m six. Afghanistan amassed a mammoth 190 in their 20 overs.

What followed next was a mystery spin bowling masterclass by Mujeeb (man of the match) and Rashid Khan. They bowled leg breaks, off breaks, googlies, carrom balls, flippers, top spinners and bamboozled all the Scottish batsmen dismissing the entire team for a paltry 60 runs. This meant Afghanistan won by a whopping 130 runs and their net run rate sits at an incredible +6.50 which could prove to be decisive in the later stages of the tournament.

Game 6

South Africa 144 for 2 (Markram 51*, Van Der Dussen 43*, Hendricks 39, Hosein 1/27) beat West Indies 143 for 8 (Lewis 56, Pretorius 3/17, Maharaj 2/24, Nortje 1/14) by eight wickets

If Afghanistan’s match was an emotional roller coaster, South Africa’s one started of controversially. Quinton de Kock, South Africa’s star opening batter and wicket keeper, decided to sit out of this must win game. News then came out that it was because he wasn’t ready to follow an instruction from the Cricket South Africa (CSA) board that the team must collectively take a knee before matches at this tournament to support the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement.

But like the saying goes ‘adversity brings out the best in us’ the rest of the Proteas came together as a team and beat the defending champions. They won the toss and fielded first in the Dubai heat. The West Indies innings was a story of two extremes. One of their openers Evin Lewis played 35 balls and smashed 56 runs. The other opener Lendl Simmons also played 35 balls but made only 16 runs. The fact that Simmons batted for 30 per cent of the Windies innings but only produced 11 per cent of the total runs scored meant that the efforts of everyone else were never going to be enough and they posted a below par 143/8 in their 20 overs. Man of the match Anrich Nortje bowled his four overs for a measly 14 runs and grabbed the key wicket of the big hitting Andre Russell.

De Kock’s absence meant an opportunity for Reza Hendricks to open the innings and he grabbed it with both hands with a quick fire 39. Van Der Dussen and Markram then shared an unbeaten partnership of 83 in just 54 balls to take the Proteas home with 10 balls to spare. Markram’s knock included four massive sixes in the arc between wide long on and square leg. The South Africans opened their account on the points table whereas West Indies now are in a real spot of bother to qualify for the semifinals. A decision on Quinton De Kock’s future in the tournament is awaited pending a CSA inquiry.

Game 7

Pakistan 135 for 5 (Rizwan 35, Asif Ali 27*, Sodhi 2/29) beat New Zealand 134 for 8 (Mitchell 27, Rauf 4/22) by five wickets

The slow and sluggish Sharjah pitches that we saw in the IPL showed up again yesterday and once again because of the dew factor Pakistan had no hesitation in asking the Black Caps to bat first. The New Zealand innings never got out of second gear and crawled to a score of 134 in their 20 overs. But there wasn’t much they could have done different against a quality Pakistani attack which has everything –the left arm pace and swing of Shaheen Afridi, the right arm raw pace of Haris Rauf, the line and length of Hasan Ali, the guile of Shadab Khan and the pin point accuracy of Imad Wasim. Rauf (man of the match) was the pick of the bowlers picking up 4 for 22 of his 4 overs.

In reply Rizwan carrying on with his good form gave Pakistan a steady start. The Black Caps through some disciplined bowling and tight fielding tried their best to keep the pressure on but because of the low target Pakistan always knew that a couple of good overs was all that they needed to get home. Those good overs came in over no 17 and 18 where the veteran Shoaib Malik and finisher Asif Ali muscled their way to 27 runs to ensure a cruisy win for Pakistan.

The New Zealand versus India match (on Sunday 4am) now becomes extremely important for both sides as a step towards qualifying for the semifinals.