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Shaky start for cricket giants

Monday 25 October 2021 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Shaky start for cricket giants
The young quick Shaheen Shah Afridi (man of the match) rocked India early, dismissing both openers cheaply. 21102411

The Twenty20 Cricket World Cup got underway in the United Arab Emirates over the weekend with giants Australia and England registering wins on day one followed by Sri Lanka and Pakistan on day two in their respective groups.

The format this time has teams split into two groups of six each. The top two teams from each group play in the semifinals with the winners battling it out for the coveted title in the final on November 14.

Game 1

Australia 121 for 5 (Smith 35, Stoinis 24*, Nortje 2/21) beat South Africa 117/9 (Markram 40, Hazlewood 2/19, Zampa 2/21) by five wickets

Australia won the toss and chose to field first in the 35-degree heat of Abu Dhabi. On a slow surface the Proteas never got going and they lost wickets at regular intervals courtesy of some disciplined Aussie bowling. Man of the match Josh Hazlewood who had a pretty good IPL season with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was the pick of the bowlers and picking up 2/19 for his four overs.

In reply chasing a target of 119 the Aussie top order struggled too and at one stage they were 81 for 5 still requiring 38 from 5 overs with two new batters at the crease. South Africa bowled and fielded brilliantly but Marcus Stoinis and Mathew Wade kept calm and took their side home with two balls to spare.

Game 2

England 56 for 4 (Buttler 24*) beat West Indies 55 (Rashid 4/2, Moeen 2/17) by six wickets

The last time these two teams met in a T20 World Cup was in the final of the 2016 edition where the West Indies snatched victory in the final over but this time around, they were routed by a clinical England performance.

England won the toss and chose to field in Dubai expecting dew to set in under the lights. The defending champions really struggled to come to terms with the surface and the bowling but being bowled out for 55 in 14.2 overs was a new low for West Indies cricket. The man of the match Moeen Ali, another player who had a good IPL season with CSK, opened the bowling with his off spin and picked up two for 17. He was ably supported by Tymal Mills with two for 17 and Adil Rashid who cleaned up the tail picking up four for 2.

Even though England had a few hiccups in the run chase they got home in the ninth over winning by six wickets and giving their net run rate a massive boost early in the tournament.

Game 3

Sri Lanka 172 for 5 (Asalanka 80*, Rajapaksa 53, Shakib 2/17) beat Bangladesh 171 for 4 (Naim 62, Mushfiqur 57*) by five wickets.

Both these teams came into the main draw of the tournament by playing in a qualifying tournament along with other associate members.

Sri Lanka won the toss and put Bangladesh in on a Sharjah pitch which had received a lot of flak for being too slow and low during the recently concluded IPL. But surprisingly the surface played better than expected and Bangladesh set up a strong target of 172, thanks mainly to Mohammed Naim and ex-captain Mushfiqur Rahim.

In reply Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera in the 1st over and at one stage were struggling at 79 for 4. But then man of the match Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajpaksa put together an 86 partnership in only 52 balls to make sure Sri Lanka cruised home easily.

Game 4

Pakistan 152 for 0 (Rizwan 79*, Babar 68*) beat India 151 for 7 (Kohli 57, Afridi 3/31) by 10 wickets.

In any Cricket World Cup, this is always the most anticipated contest of two arch rivals. Before today Pakistan had never beaten India in a World Cup T20 or ODI (One Day International). A capacity crowd of 25,000 watched the game at the Dubai International Stadium and over a billion people watched it live on TV or streamed it.

Pakistan won a crucial toss and with dew expected later they had no hesitation in asking India to bat first. Their young quick Shaheen Shah Afridi (man of the match) rocked India early, dismissing both openers cheaply. India had to consolidate and it was only due to a captain’s innings of 57 from Virat Kohli that they managed to put on a competitive 151 on the board.

To make a match of it, India required early wickets but what they got instead was a masterclass from Pakistan in T20 batting. Both Pakistani openers were in fine form and never looked in any trouble at all. They picked singles at will, placed the ball in the gaps and ran well, hit boundaries whenever required and also cleared the big boundaries when the opportunity presented itself.

Pakistan cricket has been through a lot lately. New Zealand recently pulled out of their Pakistan tour after which England too refused to travel there. They came into the tournament wanting to prove a point and this victory sets them up well to have a good World Cup. India on the other hand will need to win their remaining four games if they want to make it to the semifinals.