On another pulsating day at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan continued their impressive form with wins over Australia and Bangladesh respectively.
Pakistan made light work of the hosts, Bangladesh, in Sunday’s opener with a 50-run victory, before India thrashed the Aussies to make it four group wins out of four for the 2007 champions.
Pakistan 190/5 (20/20) Bangladesh 140/7 (20/20)—Pakistan win by 50 runs
India 159/7 (20/20) Australia 86 (16.2/20)—India win by 73 runs
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Pakistan were regarded as one of the tournament favourites before the action got underway, and they made giant strides toward the semi-finals with their comprehensive defeat of Bangladesh on Sunday.
Per ESPNcricinfo on Twitter, Pakistan have never failed to reach the last four since their first appearance in the inaugural tournament back in 2007, and if they can find a way past the West Indies on Tuesday then that phenomenal record will continue.
Pakistan are the only team to have made the semi-finals in each of the four World T20s #wt20— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) October 2, 2012
Pakistan impressively posted 190/5 against the out-of-sorts Bangladesh, who were then no match for the Pakistani bowlers—mustering 140/7 during their chase, which never threatened the 2009 champions’ score.
The standout performer of the match was Pakistan’s opening batsman, Ahmed Shehzad, who batted his way to a 111 without dismissal for his maiden T20I century.
Per International Cricket Council’s official scorecard, the 22-year-old hit 15 boundaries during his innings, with 10 fours and five sixes, showing immense variety and accuracy at the crease.
Shehzad’s was Pakistan’s first-ever century in the T20 format, and he did so after just 58 balls, as BBC Sport revealed via Twitter:
Following the match, Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez praised the contribution of Shehzad during an interview with SkySports:
"This was a great effort from the boys. Everyone knew how important this game was. It was a special knock from Shehzad. He showed today that he has all the shots in the book. We now confidently look forward to playing the West Indies."
Sunday’s second match at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur saw India prove too hot for the Australians as their 100 percent tournament record continued.
After posting 159/7 with the bat, India’s bowlers then stole the show as Australia’s order were bowled out for just 86 to record their third loss on the spin.
It was the Aussies’ second-lowest total ever recorded in a T20I, just seven runs better than their innings of 79 against England back in 2005—per ESPNcricinfo.
The star of the afternoon was Ravichandran Ashwin, who maintained his sensational form with the ball to take a 4-for-11 haul with 15 dots.
The off-spinner took both the first and last wickets of the match and gave nothing away against Australia’s talented order, who simply had no answer to his deliveries.
According to SunRisers Hyderabad’s official Twitter feed, Ashwin’s figures were the best by an Indian in T20 cricket history:
Ravichandran Ashwin's figures of 4/11 is best by an Indian in T20 cricket. Well bowled!— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) March 30, 2014
Following their disappointing innings, Australia captain George Bailey lamented the performance of his batsmen despite coming up against an inspired Ashwin, telling BBC Sport:
"In all three of our innings there's been a lack of match awareness. I don't think we've had any batsmen stand up and take responsibility to win the match, which has been disappointing."
While it’s curtains for the Australians, India will go marching on to the semi-finals with their sensational group form behind them.
However, who will join them in said semi-finals is still to be decided. With two all-or-nothing clashes coming up between Sri Lanka and New Zealand and West Indies and Pakistan on Monday and Tuesday, there's still plenty of drama on the way at the World Twenty20.