Morning all. I hope you had a good weekend. Did you enjoy the cricket?
I’m by no means an avid T20 fan but this year’s tournament has been pretty entertaining so far. There have been a few upsets – as tends to happen in the shortest for of the game – and most importantly of all England are still alive after their hugely satisfying win over the Proteas. We just need Australia to lose to Bangladesh later today (yeah, as if) and we’ll have smiles wider and fuller than a Chris Morris stock ball.
Let’s kick off this roundup by looking back at the Australia versus New Zealand game. The Kiwis just keep surprising everyone. They’ve played the two tournament favourites so far and beaten them both. The win against the Aussies was just as impressive as their victory over India, if only because it’s hard to back up an extraordinary performance with another solid display; big wins can be emotional and it’s hard to capture the same intensity.
The Kiwis did really well to defend their 142. The Aussies lost wickets at regular intervals and fell in a heap at the end. I’ve been really impressed with Ish Sodhi so far, and Mitchell Santner has also looked pretty good. Eyebrows were initially raised when Boult and Southee were left out of the side but New Zealand’s selectors have got things spot on. The only potential negative is that they might have peaked too early.
The biggest game of the weekend was undoubtedly the India versus Pakistan show. These contests are a bit like Froch versus Groves but with double the bitterness. I’m not remotely surprised that India won comfortably. Conditions obviously suited them and Pakistan’s batsmen were completely unable to handle Ashwin and Jadeja. It’s surprising that they only lost five wickets while limping to 118 in 18 overs, but that’s Pakistan for you.
Although India stumbled to 23-3 in reply, it was only ever going to take one good partnership to get them across the line. Once golden balls played himself in, the result was a formality really. And it’s a good thing too. The tournament might have been cancelled if India had lost.
Yesterday’s game saw the Cricket Boks back in action against the ‘plucky Afghans’. I put these words in inverted commas because international law apparently dictates that the word ‘plucky’ must appear in all sentences relating to Afghanistan’s cricket team.
A joint United Nations and ICC committee has been trying to reallocate the word ‘plucky’ ever since Bangladesh were stripped of the adjective a few years ago. It was thought at the time that ‘useless’ was a better term for the Tigers; after all, perennial losers by large margins should only be called ‘plucky’ for a limited period of time.
Afghanistan certainly lived up to their ‘plucky’ billing on Sunday: they played pretty well but lost. The difference in the end was a great innings from AB de Villiers and a typically fine spell by Imran Tahir. It looked like Afghanistan might pull off an upset when they raced to 60-1 off just 5 overs, but it was too good to last. They did manage to scrape up to 172 though. Plucky eh.
Before I sign off, I’ll quickly mention the Windies latest victory over Sri Lanka. It must be hard for Sri Lanka’s fans to see their spinners totally outgunned by Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn. Their batting looked pretty flimsy too.
The West Indies look like a really strong team. They didn’t even need Chris Gayle in this match. Andre Fletcher took responsibility with a solid 84 from 64 balls. Their game against South Africa will be fascinating.