A stupendous Sunday with two high intensity matches. Yes! The first match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka almost went unnoticed because of the mother of all contests, India against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka in the first match, won the toss and asked Bangladesh to bat first. A 62-run knock by the young opener Mohammad Naim and a 57-run knock by the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim, saw Bangladesh score a commendable total of 171 on a sluggish Sharjah pitch. In reply, Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera early, but Charith Asalanka played a blinder. Though there was a slight hiccup for Sri Lanka in between as they lost three quick wickets, thanks to Liton Das who dropped both Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka chased a mammoth total. Asalanka remained not out for his score of 80 and Rajapaksa contributed with 53.
There was another mouthwatering contest and it was between India and Pakistan in Dubai. India had never lost a match against Pakistan in World Cup (ODI & T20I). On the other hand, Babar Azam as a player had never lost playing in Dubai in T20Is. Pakistan, electing to field first got off to the perfect start as Shaheen Afridi removed Rohit Sharma for a golden duck and followed it up by KL Rahul’s wicket in his second. Virat Kohli tried to steady the innings, but India kept losing wickets in the powerplay. However, a 53-run partnership between Rishabh Pant and Kohli gave some breather. With other batsmen scoring in bits and pieces, India posted 151/7.
In reply, there was nothing that could separate the duo of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar. Without breaking their sweat, Pakistan chased the target without the openers being separated. There were plenty of stats from both matches, especially the second and here is a list of few:
Shakib at the summit of bowlers in WC
One of the leading all-rounders in the shortest format of the game, Shakib Al Hasan's two wickets in his three-over spell, propelled the 34-year old to become the leading wicket-taker in T20 World Cup. With 41 wickets in this high-voltage tournament, he is on top of the list, with Shahid Afridi on number two with 39 scalps. Mind you, he is also the leading wicket-taker in this format with 117 wickets.
A Birthday special
An all-important half-century that helped his team win a World Cup match, in what better can one celebrate his birthday? Rajapaksa came in at a situation where, Sri Lanka needed 93 runs with the required run rate nearly 10. His cameo off 53 from 31 balls helped Sri Lanka win the match. By virtue of scoring a half-century, he became the first batsman in T20 World Cups to score a 50+. In fact, he is the first person to score over 30 on birthday.
The run-machine continues his merry way in WC
Kohli has just played 17 innings in T20 World Cups and is almost nearing 1000 runs. In those 17 innings, he has scored ten 50+ scores. This is the most number of 50+ scores for a batsman in the tournament. This is one of the reasons why, Kohli has an average of 83 in T20 World Cups. He went past the tally of nine by Chris Gayle. In addition, this was his first half-century in T20 WC as a captain and the first by an Indian captain overall in T20 WC.
Cascade of partnership records broken
For India, the strategy was to expose the Pakistan middle order early. That meant, they had to break their greatest wall of defense at the top which was Babar and Rizwan. But, none of the Indian bowlers came close to achieving that. Hence, Pakistan openers Babar and Rizwan registered numerous records. The most primary one was, this unbeaten 152 runs opening stand was the highest against India in T20Is.
This partnership between Babar and Rizwan is the second best for any wicket in the T20 World Cup. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara against West Indies in 2010 had posted 166.
This is also the second highest partnership for any wicket for Pakistan in T20Is. The first one and the third one also belongs to these two
This century partnership between Babar and Rizwan was the fourth of the year 2021. In a calendar year of T20I no other pair has scored two. As an add on, their 888 runs scored this year is also the most by a pair in calendar year.
This was Babar and Rizwan’s third 150+ partnership in T20Is, the most for a pair. Only one pair has had two or more 150+ partnerships apart from these two and that is between Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan (2).
Rizwan’s year gets better and better
After registering the most runs in a calendar year of T20Is, Rizwan notches up another record. In 15 innings this year, Rizwan has scored 831 runs at an average of 103.9 with nine scores of over 50, which also involves a century. This is the most 50+ scores by a batsman in a calendar year of T20I. He went past Paul Stirling’s record of eight 50+ scores in 2019. To add more, among batsmen who have scored 300+ runs in a calendar year, only Kohli (106.8) in 2016 and Rizwan (103.9) in 2021 average more than 100.
Both captains having a ball
It was a tussle between two modern great batsmen, two of the best captains and most importantly two run-machines. As their prefix run-machine, both the captains had great outings. Though Kohli’s half-century ended up on the losing side, his innings resurrected India’s innings. In T20 WC, this is the first instance of both the captains scoring 50+.
Pakistan make history
They needed a win, they played like winners and emerged rightfully so as winners. In fact, this was more than a win for Pakistan. Chasing a moderate total of 152, the openers were unseparated till the end. This marked the first ever T20I chase for Pakistan in which they had all their 10-wickets in hand. On the other hand, this was also the first time India were handed defeat by 10-wicket margin in T20Is
The jinx broken
Alas! The time has finally come for Pakistan to cherish a monumental win in World Cups, let be ODIs or T20Is. India and Pakistan first played a match in a World Cup event in 1992 (ODI), which was 29 years ago. Since then, India held an unassailable record of 12-0 before the start of Match 16, 7-0 in ODIs and 5-0 in T20Is. The hex was finally broken in 2021 as Pakistan went on to register a massive win. Now all that remains is the ODI World Cup record of 7-0 and in the 2023 ODI World Cup, they will aim to break that as well.