India became the final team to book a semi-final spot in the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 on Sunday, beating Australia by six wickets (with five balls remaining) to set up a meeting with West Indies.
Virat Kohli stole the show during the chase, scoring 82 runs from 51 balls to lead India past the Aussies. The Baggy Green appeared to be on their way to a win after some excellent work from their bowlers, but they fell apart in the final overs.
Earlier in the day, Afghanistan won a Super 10 stage match for the first time ever, upsetting the West Indies by six runs in a thrilling match in Nagpur, India. Samuel Badree was brilliant with the ball for the Caribbean side, taking three wickets for the concession of just 14 runs, helping to restrict Afghanistan to 123 for seven after being put in to bat.
It was a total that proved sufficient, though, as the outsiders held their nerve brilliantly and made the most of a turning track to sneak home.
Here’s a recap of Sunday’s action, the schedule for the remainder of the tournament and the updated group standings.
|Match 32||1||Monday, Mar. 28||2 p.m.||South Africa vs. Sri Lanka|
|Semi-final 1||Knockout||Wednesday, Mar. 30||1:30 p.m.||New Zealand vs. England|
|Semi-final 2||Knockout||Thursday, Mar. 31||1:30 p.m.||West Indies vs. India|
|Final||Knockout||Sunday, Apr. 3||1:30 p.m.||TBD vs. TBD|
|Group 1||Mat||Won||Lost||Tied||NR||Pts||Net RR|
|Group 2||Mat||Won||Lost||Tied||NR||Pts||Net RR|
Australia vs. India
India, 161-4 (Kohli 82, Pandya 2-36), beat Australia, 160-6 (Finch 43, Watson 2-23), by six wickets (with five balls remaining).
Click here for the full scorecard.
Kohli was once again the hero for the Indian side, scoring an unbeaten 82 from 51 balls to lead the Men in Blue to victory over Australia. The Australian bowlers appeared to be in control for much of India's chase, but Kohli and MS Dhoni made the difference in the final overs.
Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch got off to a fast start for the Baggy Green, as the opening duo combined for a quick 69 off 66 balls. The Aussies appeared to be on their way to a score close to 200 through the Powerplay, but India's bowlers kicked into gear at just the right time.
Led by Ashish Nehra, who bowled three overs in the Powerplay and one at the death and gave up just 20 runs, the Men in Blue got rid of David Warner and Steven Smith before either could hit double-digits, and when Finch was caught by Hardik Pandya, India appeared to be in full control.
Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle was impressed with Nehra's showing:
In a game like this 4-0-20-1 are fantastic figures. #Nehra— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 27, 2016
Glenn Maxwell added 31 runs to Australia's total, but he and his team-mates struggled to find the boundary, although Peter Nevill added a quick 10 runs off two balls to end the innings.
Sky Sports Cricket wondered whether those two shots could be the difference:
A target of 161 seemed relatively easy to chase for India, but openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan failed to seize momentum early, combining for 25 off 29 balls. Shane Watson grabbed two quick wickets, bowling Sharma before Nevill caught Suresh Raina, and per Broken Cricket, the veteran seemed determined to prolong his international career:
Shane Watson is making sure he isn't playing his last International match...— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) March 27, 2016
India's chase didn't shift into gear during the middle overs, as the Baggy Green bowlers did a superb job containing their explosive batsmen. Kohli eventually got the chase started with a patient half-century, and his partnership with Dhoni saw the required run rate drop slowly toward where it needed to be.
The 18th over proved to be a big one, as Kohli hit 14 runs off James Faulkner's deliveries, putting the Men in Blue in the driver's seat.
The ICC's official Twitter account couldn't believe it:
Kohli continued to do damage, piling up the boundaries in the 19th over as well, and entering the final over, India needed just four more runs to book their spot in the semi-finals. Dhoni clobbered a four off the first delivery from Faulkner, ending the match.
Watson ended his final international with two wickets for 23 through four overs, but Faulkner in particular fell apart in the final overs, and he finished with an economy rate of 11.05. Australia's lack of quality spinners hurt them in the final overs, and India took full advantage.
The Men in Blue haven't looked their best so far during the tournament, and Sunday's match was no different. While their bowling looked solid―Ravichandran Ashwin and his 15.50 economy rate notwithstanding―the batsmen largely failed to come to the party, and it took a superb effort from Kohli to advance to the next round.
The West Indies looked fantastic with the ball even in a losing effort against Afghanistan, and India will have to find more from their other batsmen if they are to beat the Windies.
West Indies vs. Afghanistan
Afghanistan, 123-7 (Zadran 48*, Badree 3-14) beat the West Indies, 117-8 (Bravo 28, Nabi 2-26) by 6 runs.
Click here for full scorecard
While Afghanistan have posed some problems for their illustrious opponents in this tournament so far, plenty hinges on whether their star batsman Mohammad Shahzad can get off to a positive start at the top of the order.
After opening partner Usman Ghani departed for just four, Shahzad seemed to cut loose at the crease, lofting a mammoth six to finish the fourth over. But just when he seemed to be motoring, Badree had him caught for 24 at mid-off.
From there, the Afghanistan innings failed to build any momentum, with only two more batsmen making their way into double figures.
Captain Asghar Stanikzai was one, although he’ll have been disappointed to have only made 16. Indeed, had it not been for the efforts Najibullah Zadran, it could have been an embarrassing score for the associate nation. He was still there at the end, unbeaten on 48 from 40 balls, helping his side to a respectable overall total of 123 for seven.
The West Indies would have been pleased with their efforts in the field, especially the bowling of Badree, who took three wickets.
As cricket statistician Bharath Seervi notes, he’s a very difficult bowler to get away:
Asghar Stanizkai is only the 9th batsman to hit Badree for a SIX in T20Is. Badree has bowled to 80 different batsmen in the format.#AFGvWI— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) March 27, 2016
Even with Chris Gayle absent for this one, the Caribbean team would have been confident of chasing down what was a pretty meagre score. But any notion that this was going to be a routine win was dispelled pretty quickly, with Afghanistan turning in some quality spin bowling.
Deputising for Gayle, Evin Lewis was very poor, taking up seven deliveries before departing for no score. From there, wickets continued to fall with regularity, allowing none of the West Indies batsmen to establish any rhythm.
Johnson Charles (22) fell, before Andre Fletcher was forced to retire hurt on 10. Then when Marlon Samuels was out for just five, the Windies were rocking on 38 for three.
Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle was impressed with the associate nation’s bowling, as they gave themselves a real chance in this one:
Afghanistan are impressing again. Quality spin, so will trouble teams in these conditions.....— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 27, 2016
Dinesh Ramdin and Dwayne Bravo settled things down in the West Indies’ chase and at one point seemed poised to take the game away from Afghanistan. But when Bravo (28) fell in the 14th over and Ramdin (18) was dismissed in the 16th, the match was finely poised, with the batting side in need of 35 runs from 24 balls.
After the dangerous Andre Russell was run out, the underdogs became the favourites, with 25 needed from the final two overs. Captain Darren Sammy then fell for six in the penultimate over, with Afghanistan beginning to grow in confidence.
Carlos Brathwaite did superbly to keep West Indies in the clash, smashing two sixes off the penultimate over to swing the course of the game again. But he couldn't see his team to victory in the final over, as he holed out and the associate nation clung on to win by six runs.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan was delighted for the winners:
While this is an unforgiving format, Afghanistan definitely deserved to emerge from the tournament with at least one victory. They bowled superbly when defending a small total, and in the face of some quality West Indies batsman, they were brilliantly composed.
If the Windies play like that again in the semi-finals, they'll quickly find themselves on the way home with either India or Australia awaiting.