If the first week of the World T20 was fast and furious, the second week was way more entertaining than the first. From India’s last-ball victory against Bangladesh at Bengaluru to New Zealand’s unbeaten run in the tournament, here's all the World T20 stories you may have missed.
1. Last ball – Thala isshtyle
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is famous for finishing the game with a six, but at Bengaluru on Wednesday night, the skipper finished it with a run-out – yeah with a dash to the stumps. After playing a perfect match for 237 balls, Bangladesh messed it up in the last three balls to keep their neighbours in the World T20. Mashrafe Mortaza’s team needed eleven off the last over for a win and were cruising towards it after Mushfiqur Rahim had hit two successive fours off Hardik Pandya leaving two runs to get off the last three deliveries. It was almost over, TVs were switched off and prayers turned into abuses, even Mushfiqur Rahim celebrated like it’s all over.
But in a dramatic fashion, both Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah lofted catches off the next two deliveries to set up a final-ball dash. Shuvagata Hom missed the ball outside the off and Mustafizur Rahman ran as if his life depended on it, but Thala beat him in the race to break the stumps and set off wild celebrations at the Chinnaswamy stadium.
Although they arrived as the overwhelming favourites, the Men in Blue have huffed and puffed so far in the tournament and will need a perfect performance against Australia on Sunday to enter the final-four.
2. Four and counting – the Kiwi juggernaut
When the New Zealand team arrived on the Indian shores for the World T20, very few would have predicted them to enter the semi-final. But, as it turned out, the Kiwis became the first team to qualify for the semis after four wins in a row. They shocked India and Australia last week and continued their good run with convincing victories over Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Martin Guptill in batting and Mitchell Santner in bowling have been the stars for the Kiwis, while skipper Kane Williamson and pacer Mitchell McClenaghan have chipped in with vital contributions. With four wins out of four, New Zealand look the in-form side of the tournament and will face the second-placed team from Group 1 in the semi-final as they search for their first World T20 title win.
3. West Indies and England – the semi-finalists from Group 1
If the Group 2 is heading for a knock-out finish with India and Australia fighting for a semi-final spot, in Group 1 it has been a straight-forward run for West Indies and England. After Gayle storm hit England at the Wankhede in the first week, the 2010 champions have bounced back with three wins in a row to knock out the Proteas and defending champions Sri Lanka.
On the other hand, the Windies, who were the 2012 World T20 champions, have been on an unbeaten run going past England, Sri Lanka and South Africa and are at the top of the group with the game against Afghanistan in hand. West Indies are likely to face either India or Australia, while England will clash against the Kiwis in the semi-final.
4.South Africa choke and defending champions crash out
Even after having arguably the best top seven in the tournament, the chokers of the cricketing world once again disappointed at the big stage after crashing out in the opening round. Joining the Proteas are the defending champions Sri Lanka, who followed a similar path as the South Africans winning only the game against minnows Afghanistan.
With AB de Villiers, one of the best in the T20 format, getting on in age, the Proteas’ wait for a World Cup is likely to continue after justifying the chokers tag time after time. On the other hand, Sri Lanka missed the services of Lasith Malinga, and without the services of the slinger, the Lankans looked a shadow of the side that lifted the World T20 last time.
5. India with a mountain to climb in Women’s World T20
With all the hullabaloo around the men’s version, the women’s world t20 is also heading for an exciting finish. Heading into the final day of the group stage on Sunday, Group B is nicely poised with four out of the five teams still with a chance to enter the semis. The only team that is knocked out is Bangladesh, while hosts India, Pakistan, England and West Indies are still with a chance to enter the last four.
India will take on the Windies on Sunday at Mohali before their male counterparts face Australia in a virtual knock-out match. In the second game of the group on Sunday, Pakistan will clash against England and India will be a hoping for an England win to make things easier for them. For India to enter the last four, they will have to beat West Indies and have to hope that England will beat Pakistan at Chennai.
In the other group, just like their male counterparts, New Zealand women are on a roll winning all of their group games and have entered the semis with eight points. Defending champions Australia have also made it to the last four after three wins, losing only to their Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand.