World T20 2016 group stage matches at a glance
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The arrival of spring in India brought the bloom of the 6th ICC T20 World Cup tournament. With India hosting the shortest form for the first time, the fans, critics and players were all excited and geared up for the commencement of the tournament.
India v New Zealand-
The group matches started with the big clash between India and New Zealand at the VCA Stadium, Nagpur. Fans came out in huge numbers to see the Indian team thrash the Kiwi bowlers out of the park but were surprised when the batting order collapsed on 79 runs in the course of 19.1 overs. The spin attack of Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi put on by the Black Caps captain, Kane Williamson turned the fate of the Indian team when none of the batsmen could produce a healthy partnership which could cruise India to victory. The Indian captain, MS Dhoni looked utterly disappointed and was upset by the way the team performed.
Pakistan v Bangladesh-
The second match of the tournament saw Pakistan post a big total against recently qualified Bangladesh. With a mammoth score of 201 at the end of their 20 overs, Pakistan made sure that the fans at the Eden Gardens were entertained to every bit. There was a lot of talking going on in the neighboring nation of Pakistan about the security provided by the Indian Government to their players. These security issues did not let the team leave their country until the match at Dharamshala was shifted to Kolkata and the security was beefed up further. Playing on a pitch in Kolkata which ensured its friendliness to the batsmen, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez and a quick fire 49 runs off 18 balls from their captain, Shahid Afridi, Pakistan put on a huge score against the Bangladesh team that could only manage 146 runs at the end of 20 overs. For Bangladesh, only Shakib Al Hasan got going and scored a half century while no other batsman went past the 30-run mark.
England v West Indies-
The fans that came at Mumbai to watch the match between England and West Indies were hit by the Gayle Storm! Christopher Henry Gayle smashed the British bowlers all over the ground and reached a century in mere 48 balls. With a total score of 182 runs to chase, the West Indies won the match quite comfortably with 6 wickets and 5 balls to spare. Gayle smashed the bowlers for 5 fours and 11 sixes making the crowd jump out of their seats to catch the balls and the fielders, well they were spectators!
Sri Lanka v Afghanistan-
The next match was between the defending champion Sri Lanka and an associate nation, Afghanistan. Afghanistan, the team on the rise gave a tough battle to the Island nation by posting 153 runs on the board and challenging the team in transition. Afghan captain Asghar Stanikzai scored 62 runs off 47 balls and took the team to a fighting total only to lose by 6 wickets when the veteran Tillakaratne Dilshan decided to take his team to a victory on the back of his brilliant 83 runs knock.
New Zealand v Australia-
In this fast paced cricket, with fearless big hitters a score under 150 runs is always considered easy and chaseable. But, New Zealand made sure that they defend their total of 142 runs against one of the best teams, Australia who managed to score only 134 runs. This time, the pacers made sure that the team achieved victory and gained another 2 points which took them to the top of the group.
India v Pakistan-
While healing from the let down they had at the end of the first match the Indian fans geared up for the biggest match of the tournament between the arch rivals, India and Pakistan. The Pakistan team was familiar with the track and conditions at Kolkata as they had played their previous match on the same ground and moreover they had never lost a single match at the Eden Gardens. But the scores were level with the Indian team as they had never lost to Pakistan in a World Cup match. Everyone geared up for another high scoring match but instead they had to wait for two and a half hours because of the rain which caused the match to be cut short to 18 overs a side.
India bowling first, restricted the Pakistan batsmen to 118 runs and those who thought it would be a cake walk were taken aback when the Indian top order was sent back into the hut in quick succession. But, the chase-master, Virat Kohli held on to his nerves and guided India to the roads of victory. MS Dhoni once again finished the match with his traditional six. India broke the jinx of not winning any match against Pakistan at Edens and continued the legacy of having the better of them in a World Cup match.
South Africa v Afghanistan-
The next match was again an exciting match between South Africa and Afghanistan at the Wankhede Stadium. South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first at a batting friendly wicket where the mighty Gayle had scored a century in the last match played there. The pitch played to its colors and the South African team scored a gigantic score of 209 against the young lads of Afghanistan. The fans might have thought that this is a one-sided match, but, they were soon proved wrong when they scored 105 runs in the first ten overs and were sailing towards victory. There came another twist in the match and they quickly started loosing wickets and in no time the South African team, led by Faf du Plessis won the match by 37 runs.
West Indies v Sri Lanka-
The following game was between the Islanders and the Caribbeans. Sri Lanka faced few problems with the batting and was able to score just 122 runs with the help of Thisara Perera’s 40 runs. Gayle who seemed injured did not come out to open the innings but, the West Indies team did not feel his absence as Andre Fletcher scored a blistering 84-run knock and they won the match quite comfortably.
Australia v Bangladesh-
The match played between Australia and Bangladesh was important for both the teams to continue their journey in the tournament. Bangladesh scored 156 runs and almost had the match their way but the Australians got their act together and won the match by 3 wickets. This match kept the audiences at the edge of their seats and engulfed them with amazement.
New Zealand v Pakistan-
New Zealand played Pakistan at the PCA stadium and with this the Black Caps qualified for the semi-finals and made the competition amongst Pakistan, India, Australia and Bangladesh deadlier in the group of death. Martin Guptill made a fiery 80 runs and the bowlers did their best to seal a place in the semis.
England v Afghanistan-
The captain of the England cricket team, Eoin Morgan said that they won’t take Afghanistan lightly (of course we know why). He won the toss and chose to bat first and the team scored 147 for the loss of 7 wickets at Kotla. Afghanistan though got eliminated after losing out to England won over the fan’s with the way they played and that earned them stupendous support from the audiences no matter where they played.
India v Bangladesh-
The game against Bangladesh was a must win for India and if NRR was to come into the picture they had to secure a win with a considerable margin. Though India had beaten them twice in the Asia Cup T20, the challenging Bangla Tigers were not going to give in without a fight. The pitch at Bangalore did not have its original touch to it. Where the fans expected to see big shots and a huge score, the Bangladeshi bowlers bowled superb line and length and the fielders were spot on in the field which restricted India to 147 runs at the end of 20 overs.
The Indian bowlers were not going to let go either. After a poor display of batting, bowling and fielding, it was now time for a MS Dhoni special. Even the gamblers would have put all their money on the Bangladesh when they only needed 11 off the last over with the finest batsmen on strike but Mahmadullah and Rahim could not withstand the decision and mega gamble of Dhoni to bowl young Hardik Pandya. 9 runs were scored in the first 3 balls but the last 3 balls gave India 3 wickets and the nail-biting match finished with India securing a 1 run victory.
Australia v Pakistan-
After a day off for the festival of colors, the Australians came down to battle against Pakistan for whom this match was a must win to stay alive in the tournament. It was very unfortunate for the Pakistan team to play this match in a very unappealing way and losing it to Australians by 21 runs.
West Indies v South Africa-
Another match which decided the fate of two teams was played between West Indies and South Africa. South Africa lost a few quick wickets and only managed to score 122 runs. This was another match which witnessed a full house since qualification to the semis was at stake. The critics can say that the South African team choked yet again in an important match but they did give a tough fight till the end only to lose by 3 wickets.
Bangladesh v New Zealand-
In an inconsequential Group 2 match Bangladesh took on New Zealand. The Black Caps were once again clinical with their performance and despite putting up 145 on the board managed to wrap up the opposition on 70 and won the match with a massive 75 runs margin.
England v Sri Lanka-
The England v Sri Lanka game had a lot on stake, for England it was simple, they needed to win this one to qualify while a victory for Sri Lanka would have opened up a chance for South Africa as well. The Brits posted 171 which looked par at the half-way stage and also half-way through Sri Lanka’s batting innings, but a valiant effort by skipper Angelo Mathews along with Perera, Kapugedera and Shanaka made a game out of it but in the end the Lankans fell 10 steps short of the winning line. With this win England entered the semi-finals and both Sri Lanka and SA were knocked out.
West Indies v Afghanistan-
Coming into their last group match neither West Indies nor Afghanistan had anything to lose. One team had already booked a semis berth and the other back home. But despite that the spirited boys from Afghanistan put up a stupendous show to stun the top-ranked team in the group and beat them by 6 wickets to walk back with heads held high and the pride of having beaten a full nation in a World T20 contest.
India v Australia-
This was expected to be the game of the tournament. India were playing at home, had beaten Australia 3-0 down under and were coming into the game on the back of a thrilling win over Bangladesh. But, nobody expected it to be easy. The Australians won the toss and put up a challenging 160 on a tricky Mohali wicket that looked like it would slow down as the game progressed. All these aspects mattered only until the man Virat Kohli took the crease. He came there, dictated his terms, conquered the opposition and towed his team to the semi-finals with a thumping 6-wicket win.
All in all the group stages had a few really spiced up contests, and the gates for the next stage were open until very last game. The four teams that have made through are New Zealand, India, West Indies and England. Expect the tempo of the contest to reach another level when these four teams fight it out for the spot in the big finals at the Eden Gardens.