Sam Curran celebrates after taking a catch off Jimmy Neesham. ICC & Getty Images. 22110115
In a double header at the Gabba, Sri Lanka ended Afghanistan's campaign, whereas in a must win game, England handed New Zealand their first defeat to enhance their chances of making it through to the semi-finals. Rahul Patil analyses all the action live from Australia.
Super 12 -
Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka - Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat.
Afghanistan 144 for 8
in 20 overs (Gurbaz 28, Ghani 27, Hasaranga 3/13, Lahiru Kumara 2/30) lost to
Sri Lanka 148 for 4 in 18.3 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 66*, Mujeeb 2/24) by 6
wickets with 9 balls remaining.
Afghanistan finally got to play a game in this World Cup
after their loss to England 10 days ago and the back to back washouts in
Melbourne. Their lack of game time showed as they played well in parts but
could not sustain the pressure with bat or ball for the full 20 overs. Choosing
to bat first they were about 20-25 runs short on a good batting wicket at the
Gabba. Credit must be given to all the Sri Lankan bowlers and Wanindu Hasaranga
in particular (3 for 13 of his 4 overs) for never letting the Afghan innings
get out of third gear and in the end they managed a well below par score of 144
in their 20 overs.
In the run chase the Afghan bowlers managed to keep Sri
Lanka’s run rate in check for the first 10 overs but after the drinks break the
well set Dhananjaya de Silva first in the company of Aslanka and then Rajapakse
stepped on the accelerator to take Sri Lanka home comfortably. De Silva’s knock
of 66 not out from 42 balls came with a control percentage of 90% which is
quite remarkable in T20 cricket.
Even though he picked up 2 wickets the ever bankable Rashid
Khan also looked rusty and showed that the lack of game time also affects the
very best. With this result Sri Lanka kept their hopes of making it to the
semis alive whereas Afghanistan’s campaign came to an end. They can still spoil
Australia’s party though in their last group match depending on how the other
Super 12 - New
Zealand vs England - England won the toss and elected to bat.
England 179 for 6 in
20 overs (Buttler 73, Hales 52, Sodhi 1/23,) beat New Zealand 159 for 6 in 20
overs (Phillips 62, Sam Curran 2/26, Woakes 2/33) by 20 runs.
The whole of Australia was supporting New Zealand in their
game against England as a New Zealand victory would have eliminated England and
made it simpler for Australia to qualify for the semi-finals. The fact that
over 22000 spectators were present at the Gabba for this game compared to the
19000 present for the Australia vs Ireland game proves the case.
On a night where they had to win, England's captain Jos Buttler
in his 100th T20I led from the front with a delightful 73 of 47 balls. Buttler
is one of the best white ball batters in the world and very rarely does he go
through a tournament without making a significant contribution. He was dropped
twice by the Blackcaps though. Both regulation chances which should be taken at
this level. At the other end Buttler’s opening partner Alex Hales too
contributed with a stroke filled 52 of 40 balls. After all that Alex Hales has
been through since that night in Bristol in 2017 it was good to see him back
where he belongs and scoring runs for England at the top of the order. England
finished on 179 for 6 which was just above par on a good wicket and a fast
Chasing nine an over to win from the start of the innings is
never easy and England made it even more difficult for the blackcaps with some
clever out of the box thinking. Six different bowlers were used in the first 7
overs including 3 overs of spin.
Last match centurion Glenn Phillips kept New Zealand in the
game until he was dismissed in the 18th over with a typically aggressive 62 of
36 balls. Once again he was lucky when Moeen Ali dropped an absolute sitter and
once again he made the opposition pay big time for the lapse.
Phillips and captain Kane Williamson put on 91 for the third
wicket in 59 balls but it was Williamson’s inability to accelerate after
getting set which left a lot for the remaining batters to do. Williamson scored
a run a ball 40 i.e. he faced 33% of the total deliveries available but in a
180 run chase he scored only 22% of the runs required. This meant that other
batters had to score 140 runs in 80 balls at a strike rate of 175 which is a
tall ask even for some of the best in the business. The anchor approach works
in a 140 run chase but seldom in a 180 run chase. Once Williamson departed the
rest of the batters couldn't handle the pressure of the required run rate and
when Phillips fell in the 18th over it was game over. England won by 20 runs
and are looking like the England we know towards the business end of the
With three teams on 5 points and a fourth team on 4 points a
number of possibilities could still eventuate in group 1. The most
straightforward one is that both New Zealand and England win their respective
games against Ireland and Sri Lanka and go through on the basis of their
superior net run rate. Australia and Sri Lanka though will be crossing their
fingers for a different outcome.