The World Twenty20 has more than lived up to its bill so far as a fast-paced, drama-filled thriller in Bangladesh.
After some remarkable results and performances in the preliminary stages, including Hong Kong defeating the hosts Bangladesh, the Super 10 groups were formed.
We’ve seen thrills, spills and sixes galore throughout the remarkable Super 10 series, and now, the first nations have started to confirm their places in the semi-finals.
India have made light work of their Super 10 Group B opponents with three wins out of three to cement their place in the semi-final.
Their best performance of the campaign came on March 23, as they made the defending champions, the West Indies, look ordinary.
Their bowlers were in fine form against the highly rated West Indian order, and it set the tone for their work with the ball for the rest of the tournament—as Cricket Record reinforced via Twitter:
The normally fearsome opening partnership of Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle only managed to knock a combined 45, thanks to India’s bowling prowess.
Amit Mishra’s haul of two of 18 was the best of the innings, though, Ravindra Jadeja did a lot of damage with his four wickets.
Following the match former Sri Lanka star Russel Arnold took to Twitter to heap praise on the Indian bowlers:
India were then as irresistible with the bat as they were with the ball, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli both chalking up half-centuries with impressive strike rates.
In an interview with Nitin Naik of The Times of India ahead of India’s win over hosts Bangladesh, Sharma shared his optimism at the prospect of qualifying for the semi-finals. "This is our best chance to qualify for the semis, but we are not looking too far ahead. Tomorrow's game will be crucial.”
The game was indeed crucial, but India once against proved too good for their Bangladeshi opposition by breezing to an eight-wicket victory to earn a semi-final place.
Meanwhile, in Super 10 Group A, South Africa enjoyed a narrow victory over England to reach the semi-finals, knocking Ashley Giles’ men out of the tournament in the process.
After some brilliant individual batting performances from Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, South Africa posted a 196 for England to chase.
De Villiers in particular was outstanding, reaching 69 from just 28 balls to put the Proteas firmly in command of the Group A clash.
His performance was nothing short of genius, as journalist Syed Yahya Hussaini noted via his Twitter feed:
Despite England coming close to chasing down the 196, losing out by just three runs, South Africa have been good value for their place in the semis.
Coming through narrow matches is the mark of champions, and that’s exactly what the Proteas have done throughout the competition with closely fought affairs with England, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
It was heartbreak for England, but South Africa and India go marching on with just two more semi-final places up for grabs as the group stages come to a close.
The Big Match
In Group A, the second and last semi-final spot will go to either New Zealand or Sri Lanka, and it’s only fitting that the pair should meet in Chittagong on March 31.
Sri Lanka have looked formidable from the offset in this year’s tournament, and barring a last-gasp loss to England, they’ve been perfect.
The 2012 finalists bowled the Netherlands out for just 39 in their second group match, breaking the lowest T20 innings record—per the India Cricket Team on Twitter:
Nuwan Kulasekara bowled his way to 1-for-0 figures in that match with 11 dots, per International Cricket Council, and he’s been instrumental behind the Sri Lankans’ success throughout.
The fast bowler then took all four wickets against England, though, his efforts weren't quite good enough, as Alex Hales’ 116 brought about a remarkable victory for the English.
Kulasekara will be bidding to tear apart New Zealand’s order, who have been impressive so far.
In the Kiwis’ last match, Brendon McCullum lived up to his reputation with a brilliantly manufactured 65 from 44 balls, bringing up his 2000th T20I run—as the official New Zealand cricket team Twitter feed reported:
If McCullum can find his range once again, then it won’t be the routine victory for Sri Lanka that they’re expecting.
It’s looking like a semi-final showdown between India, West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa for the 2014 title, though, there’s still a lot of cricket to be played in the groups.
With India looking head and shoulders above the rest of the field so far, other sides need to step up dramatically if they’re to deny the Indians a second title.