Pakistan recorded their first win in the 2014 World Twenty20 with a 16-run victory over Australia before India completely destroyed defending champions West Indies by seven wickets on Sunday.
Pakistan bounced back from a defeat to rivals India in their opening game to record the 16-run win over the Australians, giving the team its first points of the tournament.
Pakistan (191/5) claim their first World Twenty20 victory beating Australia (175) by 16 runs— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) March 23, 2014
Setting a target of 191, Pakistan were able to make quick work of David Warner, one of the most in-form players in all of cricket. But an excellent partnership from Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch brought the Australians within reach of the win, with 126-2 in the 12th over.
Shane Warne praised the two Australians, who certainly ranked among the day's top performers:
Congrats Pakistan, didn't give up today after an onslaught by maxwell & Finch who were outstanding ! This 20/20 World Cup is up for grabs !— Shane Warne (@warne888) March 23, 2014
But an excellent bowling display (and a complete lack of production from the rest of Australia's batsmen) preserved the lead, giving Pakistan a much-needed win in the race for the knockout stages of the WT20.
Umar Akmal was absolutely sensational for his team, and his 94 runs scored were the second highest in Pakistan T20 internationals history. Coupled with 31 from Kamran Akmal, the target of 191 was a solid one on the slow pitch of the Shere Bangla National Stadium.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq had high praise for top performer Akmal, as reported by PakPassion's Saj Sadiq:
But Finch and Maxwell answered when it was Australia's turn to bat, combining for 139 runs of their own. Both players would cross the half-century mark to give their team a good chance at the win, only for the rest of the order to bat in single digits.
While it was a tremendous letdown on the part of Australia, credit has to go to the Pakistani bowlers, who recovered from the Finch-Maxwell partnership and never allowed any of the other batsmen to find some sort of rhythm.
Umar Gul and Zulfiqar Babar both took two wickets in four overs while not allowing more than 30 runs, but it was Saeed Ajmal who finally took the wicket of Finch, which laid the foundation for Pakistan's eventual win.
India completely dominated West Indies to take a firm hold of the top spot in Group 2, all but securing qualification for the knockout stages of the WT20.
MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to field first in what turned out to be a smart decision, as a fantastic display of spin bowling held the potent West Indies batsmen to a mere 129 runs.
Chasing such a low score seemed almost like a formality for India's vaunted attack, and half-centuries from Virat Kohli (54 runs) and Rohit Sharma (62 not out) made sure the Men in Blue made quick work of West Indies, winning by seven wickets.
Bowling for India, Ravindra Jadeja went all-or-nothing, surrendering a team-high 48 runs but also taking three wickets. Perhaps more impressively, Bhuvneshwar Kumar only surrendered three total runs in three overs, emerging as the team's most impressive bowler of the day.
Chris Gayle was the only bright spot for West Indies, scoring 34 runs, and as Gabbbar Singh points out, this match was over as soon as the experienced batsman was out:
The West Indies surrendered the match the moment Chris Gayle got out, now they are just waiting at the airport boarding area.— Gabbbar Singh (@GabbbarSingh) March 23, 2014
It was up to the West Indies bowlers to protect the slimmest of leads, and the group looked completely lost against Sharma and Kohli. With no pressure on the Indian batsmen thanks to the excellent (and somewhat surprising) performance from their bowlers, the Indians could simply pick out their moments chasing an easy score.
Kohli showed real aggression attacking every ball, though, and coupled with the solid play of Sharma, the match was soon over.
India have now put in two dominant performances, surprising everyone with excellent showings from their spin bowlers, and with the way the team is currently playing, India have to be considered among the favourites to go home with the WT20 crown.
West Indies will have their work cut out for them if they hope to qualify for the knockout stages from a difficult Group 2, and recovering from this heavy loss will be the first step.