Kangaroos Squeak, Lions Roar In World T-20 Final
The super Sunday in the World T-20 title clash in Bangladesh has produced the expected and unexpected both. In the Women’s version the Kangaroos made hat trick by winning the title third consecutive time. The Australians led by Meg Lanning thrashed England and once again proved their supremacy in women’s cricket. Lanning smashed her way to 44 (30), helping her team surpass a paltry target of 106 easily. Winning the toss and deciding to chase proved to be a masterstroke by Lanning as England never quite threatened to score big. England were comfortably placed at 55 for one in 9.3 overs before a mini slump from there; they did not recover and only manage 105 runs. However, the expectation was that Australia would still have to work hard in the chase but they that didn’t happen and they clinched the title one more time.
Indian women’s dismal performance
For Indian women’s the tournament over with a win over arch rivals Pakistan which also secure their birth in World T-20 2016. By virtue of this win, India finished joint fifth along with New Zealand in the tournament. Started with a shocking defeat against Sri Lanka and then England in opening two games their chances to make it to the semis were badly hit. Although they beat Bangladesh and West Indies by big margins, it wasn’t quite enough for them to make it to the semis. With her personal performance Mithali Raj retained her fifth position, the highest-placed Indian batter, while Poonam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur also figured in the top 10.
Yuvi, India crumble in final
Cricket as a sport is the biggest leveller. Three years back, the man who stood tall in India’s World Cup triumph is perhaps the difference between runners-up and world champions. The ever enthusiastic Sri Lankans beat spirited Indians in the finals fairly comfortably. Before the start of the tournament every cricket pundit and expert bet their money on India. The Indians started the tournament in the manner everyone expected from them. After losing to Sri Lanka in the first warm-up match the Indians came back in their usual manner by beating England in the second warm-up match.
This was the start of India’s magnificent progress in the tournament. Beating arch rivals Pakistan in the opening match in a one-sided affair was perhaps the alarm bell for others. The clinical Indians then went on to beat West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia and all these wins were achieved comfortably. The Indians came to this tournament after a forgetful overseas tours and not-so-good Asia Cup. Yet, the world made them favourites to win this title once again under the leadership of
MS Dhoni to complete a unique triplet of winning 50 overs World Cup, champions Trophy and World T-20 at the same time. The series of wins too promised that India would become the first-ever team to have a triplet and hold this title twice. Reaching semis without any loss was a great feat and it reminds us of their Champion Trophy’s performances. Anything can happen in semis and South Africa set a mammoth 173 runs target to chase down. But, the Indians chased it in a style and set up another final with Sri Lanka.
This was Sri Lanka’s first ICC title win in 18 years—also first T-20 world cup win after appearing in four world cup finals (including 50 overs and T-20). The last was in a 50-over match in 1996 where they beat Australia.
The Lankans were as keen as the Indians to win it this time around. Both had their share of reasons. But, one reason that probably being the biggest of the lot from either side was the farewell of two Sri Lankan legends—Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene who have announced retirement from the shorter format.
Mysterious form of Yuvraj Singh
No Indian fans would have ever imagined that the man who had won the World Cup three years back almost single handedly would turn into a villain on the night of World T-20 final. The stylish southpaw had a mix tournament. He was badly out of form but was trusted and carried by Dhoni and Team India. He dropped catches, misfielded a bit and struggled to score runs.
Knowing, seeing and believing in his ability were a fair call too. He tried his best to find form in warm-up and opening games. His laboured efforts and hard work paid off and he smashed brilliant 60 off 43 against Australia. It seemed all had come back for Yuvraj and India’s genuine match winner at number four was back.
But, this wasn’t the case and he looked unsure as to when to attack and when to go for singles. He was caught fishing outside the off stump many a time in the tournament. But the worst was yet to come. Going into bat in the final in a situation where India needs a quick partnership he failed to deliver.
In a 55-run partnership off 46 balls his contribution was mere 11 off 21 with no boundary at all. Yuvraj seemed like as a player who didn’t know how to attack and even how to rotate strike. Perhaps the worst day of his life in the field and he would love to forget it as soon as possible and come back with a bang as a same old Yuvraj we all know.
It is very easy to write anything once the event has happened. The post-mortem is perhaps the easiest thing in any sport. But, at the same time, if we praise the good performances, we should criticise the bad ones too. Dhoni is undoubtedly the best T-20 player in the world and the best player should bat long and for that to happen he should play at number three or four in the batting order. With Yuvraj struggling for form, wouldn’t it be a wise move for Dhoni to put himself ahead of Yuvi just as he did in WC-2011? It could have made a difference of 40-50 runs to the actual score if he had clicked. Even if he had failed there has Raina who also looked in great nick in the tournament followed by Jadeja and Ashwin and of course, Yuvraj. Sometimes these little changes can upset the opposition’s plan and give you the momentum.
Ideally if you ask any cricket fan he would have take that result just to honour two greats of the game. Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene have announced their retirement from T-20 internationals. T-20 World Cup is the best gift that their team has given to them in their last match. Though Mahela did not enjoy a decent outing, Sanga peaked at the right time and won the match for Sri Lanka by scoring an unbeaten half century.
By Sorabh Aggarwal