Two big games were played at Mirpur’s Shere Bangla National Stadium on Sunday. In the first, Pakistan pulled off a marvelous victory over the highly talented Australians, by mounting a reasonably big total, after a rather slow and poor start. In the second game, India’s bowlers provided the second successive example of sensible bowling to restrict defending champions West Indies to a modest and easily achievable target and finishing a facile victory.
For the second time in the tournament, Pakistan batted first after losing the toss. They lost opener Ahmed Shehzad and one-drop batsman Mohammad Hafeez by the 5th over with just 25 on the board. But Akmal brothers; Kamran and Umar set down solidly and engineered a 96-run partnership in 8.3 overs, before Kamran was the third batsman out. By this time Pakistan had established a good scoring rate and Umar Akmal was still batting. He continued to play briskly, first in the company of Sohaib Maqsood and then with Afridi. While Maqsood was out cheaply, Afridi made an unbeaten 20 runs in 11 deliveries and matched the attacking Akmal on the other end. Akmal made 94 in 54 balls with 9 fours and 4 sixes and he was the last batsmen out on the first ball of the 20th over. Afridi and Shoaib Malik added another 11 runs in the remaining 5 balls and Pakistan set a target of 192 for Australia.
Australia began disastrously, losing the accomplished David Warner and highly enterprising Shane Watson for just 8 runs in the first over from Zulfiqar Babar. But Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, the two batsmen, who replaced the openers, began batting as if nothing has happened. By the 12th over, Australia reached 126/2 and the threat to Pakistan became real. The way Maxwell was going, the target of 192 looked pretty easy. He completed his 50 in 18 balls to equal Warner’s Australian record for the fastest fifty in any T20 game and went on to score 74 off 33 balls. At this score, Maxwell holed out to deep midwicket. In the next 29 runs, Australia lost 2 more wickets and the match appeared to be swinging Pakistan’s way. But Australia had hopes, as long as Finch was still there. But when Saeed Ajmal deceived Finch with a beauty for Australia’s 6th wicket, runs dried up and the asking rate climbed too high. Pakistan bowlers did very well in picking wickets at crucial junctures with 4 wickets falling in the last 10 deliveries. In the end Pakistan won the match by 16 runs.
In India’s game against the West Indies, Dhoni won the toss for the second successive time and put the West Indies in. Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced some lovely out-swingers in his first over, which Dwayne Smith couldn’t tackle. In the second over from Shami, Chris Gayle should have gone back but Ashwin made heavy weather of a simple chance in the slips. Ashwin drew the first blood with a caught-and-bowled dismissal of Smith in the 8th over. But Gayle hung on for 49 balls, scoring 34 off 33 balls with 2 sixes, before being run out from a good effort from Shami and Dhoni. Gayle’s was the highest score in the West Indian innings with all big names comprehensively throttled by Bhuvi Kumar, Shami, Ashwin and Amit Mishra. Bhuvi Kumar didn’t take any wickets but he turned up great T20 bowling figures of 3-0-3-0. Dhoni was tactical in bowling Ashwin early so that the run restriction could create panic for later order batsmen, who would have lesser number of overs to mount any big total. Named player of the match for second successive game, Amit Mishra was brilliant once again. He removed Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo off successive balls. Surprisingly, Jadeja was the only bowler, singled out by West Indies batsmen for merciless hammering as he conceded 48 in his 4 overs. But for him, even 129 would not have been possible.
India lost Shikhar Dhawan to a controversial LBW in the first over. But when Kohli came, he showed Rohit Sharma how to unshackle oneself from needless mental blocks. Of late, Sharma has been found to be circumspect in many of his last innings but in the company of Kohli, he flourished, as India went about building the innings. Both Sharma and Kohli completed well-deserved fifties and carried the score to 107. Not only that, they carefully navigated through most overs bowled by the dangerous Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree. When Kohli was bowled by Russell, Yuvraj joined Sharma and the two of them carried the score at par with the West Indies. Yuvraj got out to the third ball of the final over but Raina completed the formality, on arrival, by scoring the required single. The only negative aspect of India’s batting was allowing too many dot balls in the final stages. There was no need to reach the 20th over after reducing the scoring rate to around 4 early on.