On a hot afternoon at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, South Africa edged past Sri Lanka by four wickets in a nail-biting encounter to keep their hopes alive for a place in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup. After being asked to bat first, Sri Lanka scored 142 runs in the first innings courtesy of a sublime 72 off 58 deliveries studded with six boundaries and three sixes by Pathum Nissanka.
A disciplined bowling performance led by Tabraiz Shamsi's 3 for 17 in the middle overs helped the Proteas bowl out the opposition for a modest score. In reply, skipper Temba Bavuma scored a patient 46 to lay the foundation for the chase. With 15 runs needed off the final over, David Miller smashed two sixes to help South Africa register a thrilling win.
In the evening encounter, Jos Buttler's unbeaten 71 off 32 deliveries propelled England to an eight-wicket win against Australia at the Dubai International Stadium. A clinical bowling performance by the England side helped them bundle out the Aussies for 125 in the first innings, with Chris Jordon picking up 3 for 17 in his four-over spell.
Chasing a target of 126 runs, the wicket-keeper batter produced a blistering knock as he smashed five boundaries and five massive sixes to help the side register an emphatic win. Here are a few notable stats from both games.
Shamsi wreaks havoc in the middle overs
The leading bowler in this format of the game, Tabraiz Shamsi, picked up three crucial wickets in the middle overs to derail Sri Lanka. On a sluggish surface, Shamsi encouraged the batters to drive on the up and picked two out of his three wickets as caught and bowled. En route his match-defining spell of three of 17, the 31-year old recorded a rare feat, completing 32 wickets in 2021, which is the most by a player in a calendar year. Andrew Tye is second on the list with 31 scalps in 2018.
Hasaranga weaves his magic
With the wickets of Aiden Markram, Bavuma and Dwaine Pretorius, Wanindu Hasaranga became the third player in the history of the T20 World Cup to pick up a hat-trick. The leg spinner rattled the middle order of the South African side with three crucial wickets in the final stages of the innings to brighten Sri Lanka's chances. Brett Lee was the first player to pick up a hat-trick in this format, against Bangladesh in 2007, followed by Curtis Campher's heroics in the early stage of this edition.
Fernando's dismal form continues
Avishka Fernando's torrid run with the bat continues to hurt Sri Lanka. The right-handed batter has failed to notch up a double-digit score in the last five encounters. The 23-year old has not scored a half-century in 27 innings, which is the most innings for a top-five batter without a fifty-plus score in T20 Internationals. Upul Tharanga is second on the list with 25 innings.
Kusal Perera breaches 1500-run mark
Kusal Perera failed to lay a solid foundation for the side at the top of the order, falling for seven off 10 deliveries with a solitary boundary. However, during this knock, the southpaw became the second Sri Lankan player to score 1500 runs in the shortest format of the game. Tillakaratne Dilshan leads the table with 1889 runs in 79 innings with 13 half-centuries and a scintillating hundred.
Australia's powerplay woesChris Woakes produced a hostile spell of bowling in the powerplay to pick up two wickets and followed it with a one-handed blinder to dismiss Steve Smith, resulting in the formidable batting unit of the Aussies reeling at 15/3 inside the first four overs. With three quick wickets, skipper Aaron Finch and Marcus Stoinis crawled their way to 21/3 in the first six overs, which is the lowest by Australia in the T20 World Cup. The team endured a similar run in the 2012 edition of the competition and scored 21/2 against Pakistan, which is second on the list.
Aussies endure a lukewarm performance with the bat
Australia had a night to forget with the bat as the team lost wickets on a regular basis and were eventually bowled out for 125 runs in the first innings. Finch was the lone warrior for the side with a valiant 44 but failed to get any support, resulting in the team crumbling to a modest total, the third-lowest in their T20 World Cup history. They were bowled out for 86 against India in Dhaka in 2014, the lowest for the Aussies at a world event.
A solid opening partnership
In the pursuit of 126, the opening pair of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler started the innings in a commanding fashion, smashing 66 runs in the powerplay. En route this blazing start, the duo recorded the highest score by a team in the first six overs in this edition of the World Cup. A couple of nights ago, Australia scored 63/0 against Sri Lanka at the same venue, which is the second-highest.
Buttler joins the 300 sixes club
One of the most destructive players in the modern era, Buttler enthralled the crowd at the Dubai International Stadium with his brutal hitting. The wicket-keeper scored an unbeaten 71 off 32 to power England to a comprehensive eight-wicket win. En route this match-winning knock, he smashed five hits over the fence and became the third England player to hit 300 sixes in T20s. With 349 sixes, skipper Eoin Morgan is on top of the table.
Buttler sets the stage on fire
In a small run chase, Buttler made optimum use of the field restrictions to help England get off to a flying start in the powerplay. The 31-year old displayed an array of strokes all around the ground to notch up a quickfire half-century off 25 deliveries with five fours and five sixes, which is the joint best along with Morgan. The southpaw achieved this feat against West Indies in the 2012 edition.
England dismantle Australia
Riding on a sublime half-century from Buttler and a valuable contribution of 22 from Jason Roy, England defeated Australia by eight wickets with 50 balls to spare, which is the largest for them in terms of balls remaining. A loss against Pakistan in the year 2012 with 31 balls left is the second-biggest margin of defeat for them in this form of the game.