The Day/Night encounter between England and New Zealand at Chittagong’s Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium on March 22, 2014 was spoiled by rains. Having piled up a creditable 172/6, the Englishmen never thought that their valiant efforts could be washed away by lightning and thundershowers. When the bad luck gives you a chase, there is nowhere to run. New Zealand victory in 5 overs through D/L method was proof that misfortune continued to deny England the real chance to defend a creditable score in a T20 game. One reporter branded Brendon McCullum as a master of dark arts; since he batted with aplomb, as untimely rain threatened to result in a complete wash-out. But McCullum ensured that his team batted for the mandatory 5 overs, required for forcing a D/L decision in the game. But you can also credit Stuart Broad for the New Zealand win, as he conceded 16 runs in the only over he bowled, and bowling a last-ball full toss, which McCullum gleefully whacked for a six. Knowing McCullum’s propensity for powerful aerial parabolas into the stands, Broad should have bowled with restraint since he was in a perfect position to tilt the balance in his team’s favor.
The debate on whether or not, 172 runs amounted to a challenging total, is only of academic importance now. But England batsmen must get the credit of scoring those runs in the first place, after being asked to bat by AB de Villiers, after the Kiwi skipper had won the toss. Though they lost the first wicket early, Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali played with gusto and produced a second-wicket stand of 72 runs in 7.2 overs. Both of them departed in quick succession but they had laid a good foundation for later English batsmen to build on. Lumb made 33 in 24 balls and the more adventurous Ali took only 23 to make 36. Eoin Morgan, Jos Butler, Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan batted sensibly to carry the score to 172/6 in 20 overs.
When the match ended, Broad couldn’t completely hide his anger on the umpiring decision and said that when the first forks of lightning and thunder became visible, the game should have been called off. He felt aggrieved that the umpire wanted to wait until the rains came. When the game was finally called off, 5.2 overs have been bowled and New Zealand were 9 runs ahead as per Duckworth-Lewis calculations.
In an earlier game at the same venue, Sri Lanka cruised to a victory, when the South Africans lost quick wickets in the last stages of the game, after doing well for a considerable part of the match. Despite some accurate bowling by Dale Styen, Morne Morkel, Tsotsobe and Imran Tahir, Sri Lanka were able to put up a brave score of 165/7. Kusal Perera was exceptional in making a 40-ball 61 with 6 fours and 3 sixes. He was ably supported by Angelo Mathews, Kumar Sangakkara and skipper Dinesh Chandimal, all whom chipping in with useful scores.
Batting next, South Africa were purposeful from the start. Though they lost Quinton de Kock early, the scoring-rate was maintained. Amla and Duminy put on 50 runs in 6.2 overs, before Amla fell to a catch by Tilakratne Dilshan. But joining Duminy in the middle, skipper AB de Villiers didn’t let the asking rate drop. When de Villiers and Duminy departed in quick succession, Miller and Albie Morkel carried on.
In the last over South Africa required 15 for victory with Malinga about to bowl. In T20 games, this target has been achieved on countless occasions, but every match is different from the other. It was a pressure situation in any case and the only question was who would capitalize on it? Miller found the contact on the first ball from Malinga and Dale Styen went for a run even as Angelo Matthews collected and threw at the bowlers end. Luckily, Malinga got his hands to the ball, which spilled on the stumps. That was the end of Dale Styen. On the second delivery from Malinga, Miller started off for a single but Thisara Perera fielded well and lobbed the ball for Kumar Sangakkara to run him out by miles. With four balls left and tailenders out in the middle, it was like asking for the moon. Regardless, Imran Tahir hoisted a six and got a couple in the last 4 balls of Lasith Malinga’s and Sri Lanka’s final over. At the end, South Africa fell short with Lanka winning the game by 5 runs.
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