The 2022 World Cup was a tournament of upsets. And it gave us a fair warning on the opening day itself. Namibia defeated Sri Lanka in the lung-opener from an improbable position. They were 35/3 while batting first and ended up toppling Sri Lanka by a whopping margin of 55 runs. It is their first win in any format against a nation that started playing Test cricket before the 1990s. A lovely result to start the tournament.
A great World Cup has one game that lights up fire in the tournament. Zimbabwe beating Pakistan was that match. Chasing only 130, Pakistan batting crumbled. Zimbabwe held their nerve in a last ball finish that saw one of the most memorable results of the tournament - Zimbabwe beating Pakistan by 1 run. Watching the Zimbabwean cricketers leap over each other makes you realize why these smaller nations give their heart and soul to this game.
If the Zimbabwe-Pakistan game lightened the tournament, then Netherlands defeating South Africa turned the tournament on its head. South Africa were undone by their own countrymen. In 2015, Grant Elliot knocked them out in the semi-finals. Here, a bunch of Dutch players of South African descent performed in unison to knock the Proteas out at the brink of the semis. Guess who went through - Pakistan, after dropping points against Zimbabwe. All this on the last day of the Super 12 stage. The World Cup really saved its best for the last.
And how can we miss the drama at the end of the Bangladesh-Zimbabwe game. Bangladesh had already celebrated a close win. The players had stepped out of the field. Only umpire Marais Erasmus was standing in the middle of the ground when the third umpire conveyed it was a no ball. Why? Because the wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan collected the last ball marginally in front of the stumps. Everyone had to come back with Zimbabwe only 4 runs away from another famous victory. Bangladesh just held their nerve one last time to get across the line.
Let’s move on to some individual brilliance now. Finn Allen accentuated the role of cameos. Taking Mitchell Starc down in the first over of the Super 12 stage, he paved the way to knock out the host nation before the semi-finals stage.
And what a catch from Glenn Phillips to leave the Aussies startled in the same match. Phillips ran around 30 metres and was in the air, with his body parallel to the ground when he held on to one of the best catches of the competition. Kudos to the cameraman for this amazing click.
On social media, Rohit Sharma is often castigated for his fitness. But he proved many wrong by lifting Virat Kohli on his shoulder. That was a first. Even Kohli was astonished. But that was the enormity of the knock. A once in a lifetime innings in a once in a lifetime game of cricket. Fair to say, Rohit’s gesture spoke the heart of every Indian fan on that day.
The pain on Roelof van der Merwe’s face is clearly visible. He literally hobbled across for a bye on one leg. He couldn’t keep the bat in his hands. And the Sri Lankans still couldn’t get him out. It was hysterical. But don’t miss out on the life lesson here: if you have the will power, there is no reason you cannot get across the line.
From agonizing pain to utmost ease, Suryakumar Yadav put EA Cricket to shame with his ridiculous strokeplay. Wide yorkers are tough to hit but not for Surya. He nonchalantly carves them over the on-side for six that too on one of the biggest outfields in world cricket - the MCG. Good luck explaining to future generations how that went for a six.
Last but not the least, the CHAMPIONS! England lost to Ireland in the Super 12s. Pakistan lost to Zimbabwe. They were the finalists. The Three Lions emerged as deserved winners of this topsy-turvy tournament. From crashing out in the group stage in 2015 to the only side to hold both ODI and T20 World Cup at the same, England’s white-ball cricket has come a long way.
That’s a wrap then. This is the last of our featured pieces from the Men’s T20 World Cup 2022. A staggering tournament, showcasing the mercurial nature of T20 cricket.