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ESPNcricinfo revisits the best innings of the World T20 2014
April 7, 2014
Yes, there was dew, and Sri Lanka's bowlers were trying to coax a spherical lump of soap into behaving like a cricket ball by the end of the match, but that was about the only factor in Alex Hales' favour when he and England began their pursuit of 190.
England had been shambolic on the field, letting four catches go. They then slumped to zero for two. At the start of the second over, on strike for the first time, Hales showed he wasn't too rattled by the circumstances, driving Angelo Mathews for successive fours through cover.
Still, when England began their 10th over, they needed 134 from 66 balls, or more than two runs every ball. From there, Hales and Eoin Morgan floored the accelerator, and England scored 61 runs in the next five overs, with Mahela Jayawardene helping them along by dropping Hales when he was on 55.
Even so, at the start of the 15th over, England still needed more than 12 an over. They had only just kept pace. They still needed, to lapse into Twitter-speak, that #onebigover. Hales delivered it, launching Ajantha Mendis for three big sixes over deep midwicket and spanking him for four through cover. Suddenly, England needed 9.60 an over - more or less their required rate at the start of the innings - and Sri Lanka were spooked. England lost Morgan, but Hales wasn't to be denied, as he finished with a flourish - three sixes in the last two overs - to inflict upon Sri Lanka their only defeat of the tournament.
Australia's innings, in their ultimately doomed chase of 192 against Pakistan, makes for bizarre reading. Two of their batsmen made half-centuries, and none of the others got into double figures. When Glenn Maxwell came in, they had lost two wickets in the first over, to the left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar.
Maxwell responded in the only way he knows, launching the ball over the leg side in that effortlessly brutal manner of his. At the end of the Powerplay, Australia were 57 for 2, with Maxwell on 31. In the eighth over, Maxwell slapped Bilawal Bhatti for two fours through the off side and two sixes over the leg side, in the process reaching his fifty in 18 balls.
By the time Maxwell holed out for 74, Australia needed what seemed a very manageable 66 from 50 balls. But the manner of their capitulation after his dismissal suggested Maxwell had been batting in an entirely different cricket match. Even as Finch carried on to finish with a far more prosaic 65 off 54, the rest of the line-up crumbled against a bowling attack that woke up from the Maxwell-induced daze and rediscovered itself.
Meg Lanning hadn't had a great start to the tournament. She had scored 2 in Australia's opening-day defeat to New Zealand and 6 in their win over South Africa. Neither Lanning nor Australia would have foreseen their triumphant finishes to the tournament - Australia as winners, Lanning as the highest run-getter - when she walked in to bat against Ireland with her team 24 for 1 in the third over.
Lanning began sedately, and was on 18 off 17 before she struck three fours in one over from Lucy O'Reilly. That leapfrogged her score above that of opener Delissa Kimmince. Starting with that over, Lanning scored 108 out of the 137 Australia scored (or more than 78% of their runs) while she was at the crease, and finished with the highest individual score in Women's T20.
Lanning's first 50 came up in 32 balls, and her second in 21. With her captain going berserk, Alex Blackwell played her part to perfection during an 83-run third-wicket partnership. Blackwell faced 12 balls and scored 12 runs - one dot, one double and ten singles to get off strike.
In a straight shootout for a semi-final spot, against one of the better bowling attacks in the tournament, West Indies had crawled to 84 for 5 in 15 overs. After they had started their innings in their usual manner, scoring 30 of their 39 Powerplay runs in fours and sixes, even the boundaries had dried up - they hadn't found the ropes in 4.3 overs.
All of that ceased to matter as Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy exploded, as West Indies scored 82 in their last five overs - the most ever scored against a Full Member opposition in T20s - and 59 in their last three. Bravo turned the tide with his assault on Umar Gul in the 18th over, smashing his first two balls for six and following it up with a cracking boundary over point later in the over.
Seemingly spooked by this, Saeed Ajmal, who had till now been his usual teasing self, went into a containing mindset and tried to fire it through flat and quick. He lost his length, and Bravo pulled him over midwicket for successive sixes in the 19th over. Sammy followed it up with another, and Ajmal's bruised figures read 4-0-41-0.
Chasing 190 is a daunting ask. Having to do it in 14.2 overs is ridiculous. It's what Netherlands had to do in their last qualifying group match to get through to the Super 10s. To even dream of doing it, they needed an improbably electric start, and Myburgh gave them that.
After taking two balls to get his eye in, he smote Andy McBrine's offspin for three successive sixes. An over later, he did the same to Alex Cusack's medium-pace, and Netherlands had wiped out 64 runs from their target in just 3.3 overs. Myburgh reached his half-century in 17 balls, sending Netherlands on their way to the biggest-ever Powerplay score - 91 - and hit seven sixes out of his team's record total of 19.
Chasing 173, the openers had put on 39 in 3.5 overs. It allowed Virat Kohli to ease into his innings, and that spelled trouble, in bold neon capitals, for South Africa. Kohli, being Kohli, could play well within himself, take no risks and still score briskly.
The first risky shot of Kohli's innings, a slog-swept six off Imran Tahir that just cleared a leaping deep midwicket, was the one that took him past 50. At that point he had struck two sixes and one four, and run five doubles and 25 singles. He had only faced two dot balls.
Kohli had planned his innings perfectly. India needed 40 off the last four overs and had seven wickets in hand. Kohli was unstoppable by now, and with Suresh Raina accelerating their march with a series of streaky shots in the 17th over, so were India.
Kohli struck three fours off Dale Steyn in his last two overs, including two trademark whips wide of mid-on, the second of which was the winning hit. It was the fifth four of his innings, and he had only hit two sixes. Astonishingly, he had only failed to score off three balls.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala