Best matches of the Super 12 stage: Thrillers, upsets and classics galore
Round 1 had its fair share of upsets, with West Indies the big casualties. But it was always going to be the Super 12 stage where the tournament truly caught alight, and so it proved.
Here we take a look at the best matches of a Super 12 stage that will live long in the memory.
Netherlands v South Africa – The biggest T20 World Cup upset?
An upset of this magnitude in a game of such importance makes this probably the biggest shock in the history of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
That isn’t to downplay the quality of the Netherlands, who have shown throughout the tournament and in recent years that they are a talented white-ball outfit.
But this loss is up there with the most disappointing World Cup exits for South Africa; and given the nation’s tournament history, that is saying something.
They had the Dutch under control in the first innings, and even after a late flurry of runs it still seemed improbable that one of the most destructive batting line-ups in the tournament wouldn’t chase down 158.
The fact that every single member of South Africa’s top six reached double figures and they still fell short says a lot. The bowling was high-class, the batting was tentative at best. And the celebrations – from both the Dutch and the onlooking Pakistan and Bangladesh fans – were huge. What a game, what a result and what a moment!
India v Pakistan – Kohli heroics in last-ball thriller
Not just one of the best matches of this World Cup, but one of the most thrilling World Cup matches of all time, India’s win over Pakistan will go down in history.
It was a classic of the genre – early Powerplay wickets to disrupt the first innings, a middle-order rally to set a decent but gettable target, and then a chase that went right down to the wire.
But what makes this game the standout match of the Super 12 stage is Virat Kohli’s brilliant and match-winning innings, with some of the shots he played in his late flurry defying cricketing logic.
82 not out from 53 balls to win the game is a great knock in any circumstance. But the manner in which he did it was truly historic.
Ireland v England – One-sided rivalry turned on its head
England will rue the rain and their inability to get ahead of the required rate when they had the chance but, regardless of the circumstances, Ireland's win in this match is a huge moment for the sport.
The Irish already had a famous World Cup win over their neighbours in the 50-over format, and now they have a T20I triumph to add to that collection.
Skipper Andrew Balbirnie set it up with a classy 62 in the first innings, and some tight bowling – most notably from Joshua Little – denied England in the interrupted chase.
Pakistan v Zimbabwe – Raza inspires huge upset
A moment of the highest drama, Zimbabwe’s famous win over Pakistan was an extraordinary match.
The result seemed extremely unlikely at the halfway stage, after Zimbabwe had scrambled their way to 130. But the brilliant Sikandar Raza’s triple-strike ripped through the Pakistan middle order to set up a dramatic finish.
And for the second match in succession, it was heartbreak for Pakistan off the last ball. This time it was with the bat with which Pakistan failed, with Brad Evans successfully defending 11 off the final over.
A wicket from the penultimate ball left Pakistan needing three to win off the last, but they failed to make it back for the second run as a run out sparked jubilant scenes in Perth. This was World Cup cricket at its best.
Bangladesh v Zimbabwe – Tigers survive extreme last-ball drama
It came down to the last ball again for Zimbabwe, but this time it didn’t quite break in their favour.
Chasing 151 to beat Bangladesh after Najmul Hossain Shanto had anchored the first innings, Zimbabwe got close thanks in the main to a brilliant 64 from Sean Williams.
Just when it looked like the African side were about to pull off another terrific result, Williams was run out in the penultimate over and then Brad Evans was caught in the deep off the second ball of the last.
Four byes and a six swung it right back into Zimbabwe’s favour with five needed off the last two to win it, only for a stumping to see that equation switch to the final ball of the innings.
Huge celebrations came from the Bangladesh camp as they successfully negotiated that final ball, and if that had been that it still would have been a stunning finish. But even later drama saw the players called back onto the pitch due to a no-ball courtesy of the keeper catching the ball before it had passed the stumps.
With the equation now down to four to win, Zimbabwe were given the most unexpected of second chances, but a big swing and a miss ensured Bangladesh could celebrate for a second time. Extraordinary.
Australia v Afghanistan – Hosts given an almighty scare
As it turned out Australia’s win in this game was insufficient to send them through to the semi-finals in any case. But with qualification still theoretically on the line, the tournament hosts fought a nervy and entertaining match against Afghanistan.
Glenn Maxwell’s sparkling 54* injected some quality into the tournament and gave the home crowd something to cheer. And it looked like the win was going to be a routine one as Australia marshalled the second innings well after posting 168/8.
But Rashid Khan turned the match into a thriller with an outrageous display of hitting at the death, finishing on 48* from just 23 balls as Afghanistan fell only four runs short.
India v South Africa – Quality and class as Proteas edge it
A tense and high-quality game between two of the world’s best teams, India and South Africa gave the fans a treat in Perth.
The brilliance of Suryakumar Yadav saved India in the first innings, as he hit a majestic 40-ball 68 to steer India to 133/9 and justify his subsequent move to the top of the T20I Batting Rankings. Only two other batters reached double figures in that number, with Rohit Sharma the second top-scorer with just 15.
Superb bowling, not least from Mohammed Shami, who went for just 13 off his four overs, took the match right down to the wire.
But high-class 50s from Aiden Markram and David Miller saw the Proteas home. It should have been enough to send them through to the semi-finals, but the Dutch had other ideas.
Australia v New Zealand – The defining match of the tournament?
One of the most one-sided matches of the Super 12, Australia and New Zealand was nevertheless one of the best due to its enormous impact on the remainder of the tournament.
Finn Allen was brutal in the powerplay, smashing 42 off just 16 and causing Australia to completely rethink their plan with Mitchell Starc later in the group stage. And Devon Conway was superb with his unbeaten 92 from 58 deliveries.
Chasing 200/3, Australia disintegrated. Bowled out for just 111, the tournament hosts suffered a margin of defeat that was always going to be hard to recover from. And ultimately it was this loss that saw their title defence come to an end, with England pipping them on net run rate.
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