Marauding McCullum, vicious Watson and other World T20 specials
Brendon McCullum, 123 off 58
Bangladesh v New Zealand, Group D
Group D, comprising New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan, was one of the tougher groupings in the tournament, making a winning start that much more important. New Zealand also had to contend with question marks over their ability to cope with the Bangladesh and Pakistan spinners. Brendon McCullum did not waste time wresting the initiative for his team with a brutal ton - his second in T20 internationals, he being the first player to score a second in the format - that came at more than two runs a ball. It was not just about big-hitting though. Instead, it was a lesson in how to pace a T20 innings: coming in to bat in the fourth over, he had a look early on, getting nine from his first 10 balls before picking up the pace with a six over cover off Shakib Al Hasan's left-arm spin. From there on, McCullum interspersed the regular flow of boundaries with quick, well-placed singles, all the while priming for the final assault. That was launched in the 17th over, McCullum blasting 53 off his final 17 deliveries to lift New Zealand to 191. After the game, McCullum said he had played enough T20s to "get the pattern of how to play". And it is the near-perfect pattern of play for Twenty20 batsmen, indeed.
Jacques Kallis, 4 for 15
South Africa v Zimbabwe, Group C
Yes, this performance came against lowly Zimbabwe. Still, there was little Jacques Kallis could have done better with the ball in hand. He got the ball to move away slightly, he got it straight and full to cramp the batsmen, he got the ball to bounce at awkward heights, he followed the batsmen who tried to make room. All in a tidy 24-ball package, during the course of which his figures read 2.4-1-5-4. And Kallis struck just as Zimbabwe were looking to rebuild after a poor start, having gone from 16 for 3 to 51 for 3: he came on in the 11th over and removed Stuart Matsikenyeri and Elton Chigumbura with consecutive deliveries in a double-wicket maiden. Zimbabwe finished with 93. For Kallis, it was his best bowling performance in T20 internationals; for South Africa, it was an ideal start to the World Twenty20.
Shane Watson, 3 for 34 and 72 off 42
Australia v India, Super Eights
Shane Watson has the most Man of the Match awards in T20 internationals: eight. He won half of those in the World Twenty20, in consecutive games. One of the award-winning performances, and perhaps the most dominating of the lot, came against India at the beginning of the Super Eights. Watson had a poor start to the match, being taken for 13 runs in an over by Virat Kohli and Irfan Pathan. Far from falling to pieces though, Watson struck with the first ball of his second over, bouncing out Yuvraj Singh. He also got rid of Pathan in that over; India were 70 for 2 after 10, 74 for 4 after 11 and from there Australia did not cede control of the match. Chasing 141, Watson, with some help from David Warner and the India bowlers, orchestrated a massacre. He had six sixes before hitting his first four. The smooth brutality of the innings could be captured in one shot: a flat, pulled six over midwicket off Pathan, which landed just above the Australian dugout. The chase was over with more than five overs to spare. So commanding was Watson's performance, and subsequently Australia's, that suddenly they became hot favourites.
Chris Gayle, 75* off 41
Australia v West Indies, semi-final
If Australia were the team to beat, Chris Gayle remained the wicket to claim. Australia couldn't get him out, and he made them pay in the semi-finals. The most striking factor of this knock, though, was Gayle's willingness to be watchful. There was no big hundred, despite him batting through the innings, but that was mostly down to him gaining only a fraction of the strike: 41 balls. Some of those 41 he faced in discomfort, with an apparent abdominal muscle strain; most of them he faced with caution overriding aggression as he pushed Australia to the brink. With Kieron Pollard joining Gayle for the final push, West Indies cleared 200, a total that proved way beyond an out-of-sorts Australian line up.
Mahela Jayawardene, 42 off 36
Sri Lanka v Pakistan, semi-final
Remember Mahela Jayawardene's silky century in the final of last year's ODI World Cup? This was another one of those masterful innings. But this one included a lot more battling, for it was not on that kind of pitch. In place of the placid Wankhede pitch, was a powdery, crumbling turner at Premadasa: one of the toughest pitches you'd come across in the shortest format. Of course, in such conditions, you'd expect to fall back on Jayawardene and he didn't disappoint, crafting a skilful, gutsy innings that proved to be the difference between the two sides. As Sohail Tanvir kept it in the channel outside off, he made sure he played with soft hands and, with the ball spinning square for the slower bowlers, brought out an array of sweeps and reverse-sweeps, with the odd fine glance and lap shot. A classy display from Jayawardene, which went a long way in putting Sri Lanka into yet another big final.
Ajantha Mendis, 4 for 12
Sri Lanka v West Indies, final
Ajantha Mendis had already showed glimpses of what he could do in his first match back in Sri Lankan colours in eight months, when he took two wickets in two balls in his first over against Zimbabwe in the group stage, on his way to figures of 6 for 8 - the best in Twenty20 internationals. On the biggest night of the tournament, he would deliver again. West Indies seemed overawed by the occasion, poking their way to 12 for 1 in five overs when Mendis came on. It took him four balls to trap a tentative Chris Gayle, the player many said West Indies' hopes rested on - one ball was swept at and missed, and two produced shouts for lbw, the second of which was upheld. He went on to rip the heart out of the West Indies line-up with the wickets of Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell. At one point, he was on a hat-trick, and was denied only by an inside edge from Darren Sammy that narrowly missed the stumps. By the time Mendis was done, he had reduced West Indies to 89 for 5 in 16 overs.
Marlon Samuels, 78 off 56
Sri Lanka v West Indies, final
A knock of 78 at a strike rate of 139 in a T20 game might not seem like much. You'd have to factor in that it was the World Twenty20 final, that West Indies had scored 32 off 10 overs and the opposition attack included Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis to better understand the significance of this Marlon Samuels' special. Sample this: never before in T20 internationals had any batsman hit Lasith Malinga for more than one six during the course of an innings; Samuels hit Malinga for three sixes in an over, clearing the midwicket, extra cover and long-on boundaries. Two more sixes followed in Malinga's next over, the final one being a monster 108-metre hit onto the roof of the R Premadasa Stadium. The world's best Twenty20 bowler dealt with, Samuels had reignited West Indies self-belief and put them on their way to a famous win.
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo