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Sports

England, Afghanistan & New Zealand thrash opponents

Monday 1 November 2021 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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England, Afghanistan & New Zealand thrash opponents
Afghanistan veteran Asghar Afghan given a hero’s send-off after his side thrashed Namibia to stay alive in the tournament. GETTY IMAGES/21103110

South Africa beat Sri Lanka in a thriller and England hammered Australia on day 8 whereas Afghanistan and New Zealand cruised to easy wins over Namibia and India on day 9.

Game 13

South Africa 146 for 6 (Bavuma 46, Miller 23*, Hasaranga 3/20) beat Sri Lanka 142/10 (Nissanka 72, Asalanka 21, Shamsi 3/17, Pretorius 3/17) by 4 wickets.

Even though Sri Lanka lost the toss and were asked to bat first in Sharjah they would have been happy with the start they got. At 61 for 1 in the 9th over with wickets in hand they were eyeing a big score to put South Africa under pressure. But as was the case in their previous game against Australia they lost their way in the middle of the innings to finish with a modest total of 142 in their 20 overs. Wrecker in chief was the number one ranked spinner in T20 internationals and man of the match Tabraiz Shamsi. For Sri Lanka young opener Pathum Nissanka almost carried his bat through the innings for a valuable 72 when wickets were falling all around him.

After his apology a couple of days’ back Quinton de Kock was back opening the innings for South Africa. If South Africa has the world’s best T20 international spinner in their side, then Sri Lanka have the 2nd best spinner in the world playing for them in Wainindu Hasaranga. Hasaranga produced a brilliant hat-trick and at that stage South Africa still required 31 of 16 balls. But south paw David Miller along with Kagiso Rabada kept his nerve and took his side home with only one ball to spare. After Lance Klusener’s retirement David Miller was touted to be a like for like replacement and although Miller has struggled to find Klusener’s consistency in finishing games, every now and then he does remind the world of how dangerous he can be on his day. South Africa are still in the running for a semifinal spot whereas Sri Lanka now only have a statistical chance of making the semis.

Game 14

England 126 for 2 (Buttler 71*) beat Australia 125 all out (Finch 44, Jordan 3/17) by 8 wickets

England have looked the best side of the tournament so far and they continued their campaign with a resounding win over arch rivals Australia. Nothing went right for the Aussies. They lost the toss and were asked to bat first on a Dubai surface which tends to get better to bat on under the lights. The Aussies lost wickets at regular intervals to some disciplined English bowling. All the bowlers barring Tymal Mills bowled immaculate lines and lengths, used clever change of pace and never allowed the Australian innings to get any sort of momentum. Thanks to a few lusty blows by the tail enders Australia managed a below par total of 125 in their 20 overs. Experienced seamer Chris Jordan (man of the match) picked up 3 wickets and gave only 17 runs in his quota of 4 overs.

With Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Zampa in their ranks, Australia had hopes of trying to make a match out it. But they ran into a red hot Jos Buttler who on the night was seeing it like a football. They pitched it up to him he drove them, they bowled short to him he pulled them, they gave him width he cut them and when they bowled length, he just deposited them into the stands. It was an outstanding display of power hitting to which Australia had no answer. England won with 50 balls to spare and have all but confirmed their place in the semifinals. Australia are still in the running for the semis but will want to quickly forget this performance and move on.

Game 15

Afghanistan 160 for 5 (Shahzad 45, Nabi 32, Loftie-Eaton 2/21) beat Namibia 98 for 9 (Wiese 26, Hassan 3/9, ul-Haq 3/26) by 62 runs

An exception to the norm Afghanistan love to bat first, set a big target and then strangle the opposition with their world class spinners so it wasn’t a surprise when they chose to bat first after winning the toss in Abu Dhabi. All their batters contributed in scoring 160 from their 20 overs. Opener Mohammed Shahzad top scored with 45 and captain Mohammed Nabi chipped in with a quick fire 32 for just 17 balls at the end.

Namibia’s inexperience at this level showed and chasing 161, they were never in the hunt. They lost wickets at regular intervals and just couldn’t get the Afghan seamers or spinners away to the boundary. Man of the match Naveen ul-Haq cleaned up the Namibian top order and finished with figures of 3 for 26 whereas Hamid Hassan created havoc in the middle of the innings picking up three wickets and only conceding 9 runs in his 4 overs.

Before the match Afghanistan’s ex captain Asghar Afghan announced that this would be his last match for Afghanistan. There is talk that the loss against Pakistan in the previous match affected him badly. He got a guard of honour from the Namibians when he came out to bat and a guard of honour by his team mates when he finished his innings. The scenes were emotional and it was good to see that the spirit of the game is still alive amongst such intense competition.

Game 16

New Zealand 111 for 2 (Mitchell 49, Bumrah 2/19) beat India 110 for 7 (Boult 3/20, Sodhi 2/17) by 8 wickets.

Before the start of the tournament Indian captain Virat Kohli announced that he will be giving up T20 captaincy after the World Cup. It felt like the CEO of a company giving his resignation before the start of an extremely important project. In a work environment we all at some stage have experienced the uncomfortable feeling in the team when one of our colleague hands in their notice. They have a foot in the door, cannot wait to leave and it does affect the morale of the rest of the team. India’s performance in the first two games of this World Cup has been extremely lackluster and their chances of making it to the semifinals are now dependent on a statistical miracle.

New Zealand won an important toss and asked India to bat first. India made two changes to their playing 11 bringing in left hander Ishan Kishan for the injured Suryakumar Yadav and all-rounder Shardul Thakur in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. As Ishan’s abilities with the bat are best utilised at the top of the order they had to push regular opener Rohit Sharma to no 3 and captain Virat Kohli to no 4. It may seem like a small change but in must win games like this one small change can have big impacts. New Zealand had a plan for each batter and executed them brilliantly. They strangled all batters with accurate bowling and clever field placings. Every time the Indians tried to break the shackles, they found a fielder and the innings huffed and puffed to a well below par score of 110. All the Kiwi bowlers were economical and picked up wickets including man of the match Ish Sodhi who gave only 17 runs of his 4 overs while picking up two crucial wickets.

After the ordinary effort with the bat, India required a miracle to win it with the ball. But Darryl Mitchell who is looking extremely comfortable in his new role at the top of the order made sure there were none. First with Martin Guptill and then with captain Kane Williamson, he made sure India never had a chance of making a comeback. He fell short of a well-deserved half century but by then India had thrown in the towel.

In recent history New Zealand has proven to be India’s nemesis. India lost to them in the semifinals of the 2019 ODI World Cup and then lost to them in the World Test Championship final earlier this year. With this victory, New Zealand have strengthened their position in the group whereas India’s future in the tournament is no longer in their own hands.