Continuing from the T20 final

The last time England won a Test match against Pakistan in Pakistan was 22 years ago. Thanks to their combined belief, aggression, ruthlessness, and willpower, the modern England defeated their defensive opponents.

Of course, The Legend keeps making history:

Having won ODI and T20 World Cups, and achieved 2019's miracle at Headingley, Stokes rated this success as one of the best. It is unquestionably the best embodiment of him as a captain. Not just for his bravery, nor the tactical calls that paid dividends, such as keeping the reversing old ball in play until midway through the 95th over to quieten the scoring, then replacing it that so Leach could use the prouder seam to turn it off the deck and win the match.

I've seen many great players over the years: Lara, Tendulkar, Villiers but they couldn't collect trophies or push their teams to perform at an exceptional level. Ben Stokes is the best thing that ever happened to English cricket. Two World Cups and two epic Test matches in just four years.


Records shattered

The T20 and ODI title holders are hungry for the Test championship:

506 for 4 England's total at stumps in Rawalpindi. They bettered a record that has stood since 1910 to become the first team to cross the 500-run mark on the first day of a Test match. England's tally of 506 is also the second-most scored by any team in a single day of Test cricket, behind Sri Lanka's 509 on day two against Bangladesh in 2002.

1 England became the first team ever to end day one of a Test match with four centurions. Australia managed three - once in 1884 against England and once in 2012 against South Africa.

What's even more astonishing is that those runs came from 75 overs! Given the fact that Ben "The Legend" Stokes was still batting, England would have likely smashed over 600 runs if the usual 90 overs were bowled. That would have easily broken the all-time single day record for most runs scored.


The Man, The Myth, The Legend

2019-07-14: ODI World Cup final win against the Kiwis.
2019-08-25: Test match win against the Aussies. Yes, that one.
2022-11-13: T20 World Cup final win against Pakistan.

Ben Stokes had played 42 T20 matches before today. Shockingly, he hadn't scored a single fifty in over ten years! He finally decided to slay that statistic in the World Cup final. The calm and cool cricketer has his trifecta. Ben Stokes has played three great matches in all formats. The ODI final, the Ashes last-wicket victory, and the full redemption for his devastating loss against West Indies in the T20 final in 2016 by making his highest score against Pakistan today.

Many columns will be written, documentaries will be made, and movies will be shot about Ben Stokes: one of the greatest cricket players from England.

Is there anything more he can do? Well, there is only one achievement left: winning the Test championship. If I had to bet ...


The greatest English team ever?

Is this English team on the path to greatness or will the Pakistanis spoil their party?

After all, for England's white-ball agenda-setters, this Melbourne match is a date with destiny of a subtly different magnitude. At some point in the next 48 hours, weather permitting, we shall know if England have managed to become the first men's team in history to hold both the 50-over and 20-over World Cups simultaneously, and by dint of that achievement, whether they have conferred on themselves a measure of greatness that a select few teams in history can claim to have achieved.

They've definitely been the most improved team of the past six years. They're handling pressure and making it to the finals of major events. Hopefully, we get a proper 40-over match. It would be such a loss for the players and the fans if the miserable rain were to ruin this historical contest.


30 Years Later II

England treated Australia with utter contempt in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup. Today, they did much worse to India:

Since that defeat to Ireland, where they kept second-guessing themselves, England have batted and bowled with ultimate clarity. The selection of Hales was one of ultimate clarity. He came with solid experience in Australian conditions. They needed that experience. Buttler made the call. And now here is the payoff.

A player who, for a long time, came to be known as a disruptive force within the England team was given a second chance. And he's repaid their faith with an innings that broke the biggest superpower in the world of cricket.

Hales equalled India's tally of sixes all by himself - seven - reducing their bowlers to rubble.

The Indians have made a terrible habit of not winning major titles:

  • 2017 Champions Trophy final: Pakistan crushed them.
  • 2019 World Cup semi-final: smothered by the Kiwis.
  • 2021 Test Championship final: Kiwis, again.
  • 2021 T20 World Cup first match: losing by ten wickets to Pakistan.
  • 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final: annihilated by England.

India's major problem? Their bowling attack is not strong enough to win gold. They wouldn't end up with multiple ten-wicket defeats if they did.

On Sunday, we should get a proper battle. The fierce, fire-breathing English batsmen vs. the dangerous, volatile Pakistani bowlers. "The Legend" Ben Stokes vs. "The Falcon" Afridi. Wouldn't it be fantastic if the scores were level after 40 overs?


30 Years Later

Pakistan started its 1992 World Cup campaign with two losses. If other matches didn't have unexpected outcomes, then they would have been knocked out of the tournament. I watched the Inzi-powered Pakistan beat New Zealand in the semi-final to face England in the final in Melbourne, Australia. Of course, Pakistan won.

Pakistan started its 2022 T20 World Cup campaign with two losses. If other matches didn't have unexpected outcomes, then they would have been knocked out of the tournament. Today, Pakistan beat New Zealand in the T20 World Cup semi-final and, it's likely, that they'll face England in the final on Sunday in Melbourne, Australia. Of course, ...


Thrilling and Spectacular

Going through high school, university and later, I watched three World Cups where Australia slaughtered their opponents. Starting from the semi-final in 1999, the Aussies went undefeated in their next two magnificent campaigns.

Now, in 2022, the Australians (who else?) were defending their World title. Given their glorious history, fighting attitude, and home advantage, somehow, they couldn't even make the semi-finals!

This World Cup started with a bang and then it got so much better.

  • West Indies eliminated; couldn't even make the main event which has 12 teams.
  • New Zealand crush Australia by 89 runs. Total humiliation! This simply doesn't happen in a global tournament!
  • A full 40-over match between India and Pakistan. What a classic. Whatever the Indians are paying Kohli is not enough.
  • Ireland beats the mighty English. The favorites lost against a small team.
  • Another 40-over match where Pakistan shockingly loses to Zimbabwe.
  • New Zealand clash with England and lose.
  • Pakistan dominates South Africa to keep their chances alive.
  • Australia huff and puff against Afghanistan. They win but it's not enough. Their atrocious net run rate costs them.
  • Did someone say choke? Netherland, for the first time in history, defeats South Africa! Pakistani and Bangladeshi fans are saying their prayers. It's a quarter-final!
  • Every single team has lost, at least, one match.

This has been one of the most incredible cricket World Cups of all time. My prediction from last month for the final four:

  1. Australia
  2. England
  3. India
  4. Pakistan

Off by one. New Zealand definitely earned their place by annihilating Australia.


World Cup on fire!

Four shocking results so far:

  • West Indies knocked out of the World Cup.
  • New Zealand crushed the Aussies in Australia.
  • England (the heavyweight favorites!) got smacked by Ireland.
  • Pakistan lose to Zimbabwe by 1 run!

The only big team that hasn't been humbled is India.


Match of the Year

The Indian Runs Machine delivers on the grand stage:

He might have been "lost for words" by the end of it, but Virat Kohli was sure that his undefeated 53-ball 82 against Pakistan on Sunday in India's men's T20 World Cup opener at the MCG was the best T20 innings of his career, "because of the magnitude of the game and what the situation was".

Kohli is the best Indian batsman after Tendulkar and today he showed how and why.

After a full 40 overs of thrilling chaos, it would be quite something to see these two teams in the final.


Breathing Fire!

England failed to chase relatively low scores two games in a row. They are in no mood to repeat their failures. Salt is peppering the ground with boundaries. The required run rate was a manageable 8.5 but his strike rate is approaching 300!

So, it'll be 3-3. The winner takes all match is on Sunday. This has been a hugely entertaining series. The biggest contrast has been the frustratingly conservative Pakistani batting versus the insanely risky English shot selection. Had England played a little carefully, they would have already won the series. There was little reason for aggression when they chased 145 on Sep. 28. Well, today, it worked out for them.


Another constriction

The Pakistani bowlers showed up to win a second match in a row against England.

For the second successive game, Pakistan were put in to bat first, scraped to what appeared a below-par total, and saw their bowlers bail them out. After being bowled out for 145 in 18.5 overs, the hosts took the attack to England with the ball, knocking over three wickets in the powerplay and then squeezing with the spin of Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed.

Even though there are two matches left, Rizwan is a lock for the Man of the Series award for his 68 88* 8 88 63. Considering how the middle order keeps falling apart, his runs are incredibly valuable. They won the last match by 3 runs, today by 6. Without Rizwan, it would have been serious losses.


Inflexible order

Asif Ali hit more sixes in his three deliveries than the rest of the team did in 19.3 overs! Ali should have been sent in to bat in the 12th over to get the momentum going. To make matters worse, the management sent Shah before Ali in the 19th over. What were they thinking? Did they forget this remarkable hitting from Ali in the World Cup last year?

England must be salivating to chase this 166. Let's see if they can be stopped.

Update: England take unnecessary risks and get reduced to 14/3. Their approach is fearless. So, they'll keep on marching. Pakistan need every wicket to win.

England, now, 116/6 with 51 runs needed in 5 overs. A big test for their lower order.

Liam Dawson smashes Hasnain. 24 runs in 4 legal deliveries!

WOW! England needed 9 runs from 12 balls but Pakistan's bowlers fought back and took 3 quick wickets to win the game by 3 runs! The team that scored a mammoth 220 runs two days ago couldn't chase 166 today.

The seesaw series is at 2-2 with 3 matches left.


10 to 11

What I wrote eariler today:

The template for the opposition is simple: break the opening partnership and expose the less experienced, weaker players who can't manage the spiking required run rate.

Babar out for 8. Rizwan out for 8. Game over. One positive for Pakistan: Shan Masood. The big negative: their bowling. They don't have the resources to limit the damage from the opposition batsmen. Shaheen and Shadab are definitely missed.


The Azam-Rizwan Show

With a required run rate of 10, England, surprisingly, couldn't break the partnership of the best opening batsmen in the world. It's the highest ten-wicket win in history. This England team is definitely a contender for the World Cup next month. So, this is definitely a big win for Pakistan. Though, their weakness, the off-color middle order, wasn't exposed.

They had just completed the biggest 10-wicket win in T20 history and become the first pair to put a 200-run partnership in a T20 run chase, breaking their own record. But more than that, after relentless scrutiny and criticism, they had reminded their fans how brilliantly effective they can be.

Oh, they've been very effective. Babar had a few ugly matches which cost them the Asia Cup. However, the middle order simply didn't pull its weight. They nearly lost chasing 120 against Afghanistan! England and Australia have stronger players that can bail out the team when the top order fails.

A reader at Cricinfo sent the best comment:

Wajid Jawaid : "Don't worry England, we know this feeling. These two did the same to us. Love, India."

The template for the opposition is simple: break the opening partnership and expose the less experienced, weaker players who can't manage the spiking required run rate.


Asia Cup Final

Pakistan wins the toss. Their chance of winning starts at 99%.

Sri Lanka is reduced to 58/5 in just under 9 overs. Their bowlers will have a tough fight ahead.

The Sri Lankan lower order fights back from 58/5 to finish with 170/6. An incredible total under pressure.

Babar's miserable tournament comes to an end. Rizwan got little support. Their chase got crushed in the 17th over when they lost 3 wickets in 5 balls. Credit to the young Sri Lankan team for fighting all the way through. And to think they only had a 1% chance of winning!


The importance of rest

Virat Kohli scores his very first T20I century in his 104th match:

[,,,] when I came back I was not desperate. Six weeks off I was refreshed. I realised how tired I was. Competitiveness doesn't allow it, but this break allowed me enjoy the game again.

Playing at the elite level away from family and friends for long periods of time in foreign lands with different time zones with the expectations of over a billion people must be mentally and physically devastating. It would have been shocking if he wasn't tired.

Glad to see the run machine is back.


181 wasn't enough

The Indians were at 54/1 in 5.1 overs. They were a screaming locomotive going for over 200 but only managed 88 runs in the last 10 overs to finish at 181. The shocking bit is that Pakistan didn't panic and crumble as is the historical record. In fact, they timed the chase really well. They hit a six and minized the dots in almost every over in the second half of their innings. The combo of Rizwan as anchor and the unexpectedly promoted Nawaz as the big hitter paid off.

It should be fun watching these two play in the final.


The New Normal

I remember the 1992 World Cup final. Pakistan scored 249 runs in 50 overs. England managed 227 runs in 49.2 overs. That was the normal scoring rate at the time.

Today, England smashed 234 runs in 20 overs! The hapless South Africans had to chase hard from the very first delivery. They managed 193 runs in 20 overs -- a run rate that's almost double that of the World Cup champions from 30 years ago but it still wasn't enough! Of course, the overall strategy is different because I'm comparing an ODI to a T20. Still, the contrast is quite stunning.


Talent, confidence, and aggression

Buttler didn't make a huge impact on the previous World Cup. He should make up for that next year:

Eoin Morgan labelled Jos Buttler "the best white-ball cricketer in the world" after his innings of 162 not out off 70 balls led England to a record ODI and List A total against the Netherlands in Amstelveen, while Buttler suggested he was playing the best cricket of his career.

Buttler hit seven fours and 14 sixes, a boundary every 3.33 balls, after England's bright start saw him promoted to No. 4 and his partnerships of 184 off 90 balls with Dawid Malan and 91 not out off 32 with Liam Livingstone saw them fall two runs short of the first 500-plus score in 50-over history.

250 runs was a competitive score in ODI cricket in the previous century. England couldn't chase it in the 1992 World Cup final. Today, they smashed 248 runs ... in 30 overs! It would be quite a sight to see them successfully chase 400+ runs against big teams.


Poor Netherlands

They met the World Champions of cricket today and it was a massacre:

An ODI world-record total of 498 for 4, built on Buttler's brutal 162 not out and further centuries from Dawid Malan and Phil Salt before Liam Livingstone smashed 66 from just 22 balls, left Netherlands facing an implausible target after winning the toss on an exceptional surface.

It beat England's own record for the highest ODI total of 481 for 6, made against Australia in 2018, and, despite spirited knocks from Max O'Dowd and Scott Edwards, who helped them come within two balls of seeing out their 50 overs, Netherlands lost by 232 runs.

The scary thing is that England wasn't at full strength! Bairstow and the legend were not in the team today. The Champions still have the most powerful batting order in the ODI world: Roy, Bairstow, Root, Stokes, Buttler, Malan, and Livingstone. A few of them can bowl as well.

England went into the 2019 World Cup as the favorites. They look even more fearsome for their title defense next year.


Who can handle the pressure?

The Australian captain doesn't shy away from risks:

Captain Pat Cummins had ended Australia's second innings at 227 for 3 shortly after tea in a bid to ensure plenty of time for his bowlers on a pitch playing tricks but is not a minefield. The declaration dangled a carrot to Pakistan, who defied the odds during their remarkable chase of 506 in Karachi when they finished at 443 for 7 from 171.4 overs.

278 runs scored, ten wickets shattered, draw, or a tie!? It sets up a thrilling fifth day.

Update: History was on Australia's side and they won by over a 100 runs.


Fire from the ashes

Joe Root 0
Ben Stokes 2
Jonny Bairstow 0

The Big Three in the England middle order crumbled for a grand total of two runs and then something happened that hasn't happened in over 100 years: the last two "batsmen" fought to become the top scorers.

[...] out of the wreckage strode the batting saviours of Jack Leach - still as diffident as ever, even with his contrasting heroics at Headingley and Lord's to serve as cult-status proof of his unlikely prowess - and England's newest recruit Saqib Mahmood, who fell to the day's final ball for an agonising 49, the highest score of his professional career. With Leach left high and dry on 41 not out, Nos. 10 and 11 had top-scored in a Test innings for the first time since 1885, when Australia's Tom Garrett and Edwin Evans had made 51 not out and 33 not out respectively, in what turned out to be a thrilling six-run win against England.

The bowlers averted total humiliation. Now, they'll have to save the match tomorrow.


Few wickets for Aussies

Pakistan batter Imam-ul-Haq has dismissed the debate surrounding the Rawalpindi pitch, insisting that the hosts were simply playing to their strengths, and that the pitch was the same for both teams. Imam went on to question whether Australia would ever prepare their pitches at home after consulting the opponent.

True. Though, a lame draw with such stats leave the fans unsatisfied:

Australia's combined bowling average of 238.33 and strike-rate of 478 were their second-worst in 145 years of Test cricket.


Aussies crushing it

For England, their best showing was that one match in which they didn't lose. The rest of their scorecards were abysmal.

So, it was quite dismal but I didn't realize that this was their worst performance against Australia in over a 100 years!

19.18 England's batting average in this series, the lowest for any team in a five-match Test series since 2001. It is also England's worst batting average in an Ashes series since 1890, where they averaged 15.74 across the two matches.

The big guns -- Root, Stokes, and Buttler -- couldn't make any impact.


Zero home advantage

Rain washed out most of the Test match and somehow Bangladesh went down by an innings. They almost had their most humiliating result:

1291 Balls bowled in the Dhaka Test, the second shortest Test match in terms of balls in Bangladesh to yield a result. The shortest completed Test was 1287 balls long, between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2018, also in Dhaka.

Another close one:

87 Bangladesh's first-innings total is the joint-lowest in Bangladesh in Test cricket. Bangladesh equal their own mark, against West Indies back in 2002. The 87 all-out is also the joint-fourth lowest total for Bangladesh in this format.

It must be painful for the fans.


Kiwis fight against history

Cricinfo:

New Zealand's record against Australia in 50-over World Cups and the Champions Trophy reads: P17 W3 L12. But in T20 World Cups, it's P1 W1.

Yeah, that's still an advantage for Australia. Plus, they won the toss and sent in the Kiwis to bat. Wouldn't it be something if Australia fail to score more runs or ... less? Now, that would be surreal and spectacular.

Update

New Zealand get to 172/4. Four less than what Pakistan managed when they lost to Australia a few days ago.

Australia 82/1 after 10 overs. Kiwis can't get wickets. The team chasing is going to win again. No surprise there. Australia will soon add another trophy to their vast collection.

On Nov. 11: Australia scored more than 176 runs in 19 overs. Today: The Aussies scored over 172 runs in 18.5 overs. That's some chilling efficiency at the big stage.

Australia has reached the finals of World Cups seven times in the past 25 years. They've only lost two.

  • 1996
  • 1999
  • 2003
  • 2007
  • 2010
  • 2015
  • 2021

New Zealand has a most unwanted record. They got to the finals three times in their entire history: 2015, 2019, and 2021. Zero trophies!


History repeats

In the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup, Hussey smashed sixes to chase down the Pakistani total. Today, Wade hit three consecutive sixes to take Australia to the final match.

Pakistan was at 70/1 at the end of their ten overs whereas Australia was 89/3. Australia, thanks to Warner, had kept up with the run rate which allowed the lower order to wait out for the proper deliveries. The Pakistani bowling unit didn't deliver. Only Shadab Khan had a spectacular night -- taking four out of five wickets. Of course, that's not enough to stop the Aussies.

Just like in the 2019 World Cup, we'll have a completely new champion. New Zealand has played exceptionally well over the past six years but history is not on their side. Australia has the psychological edge.


Top ranked defeated

The Kiwis make it to the last match of the World Cup:

Finalists in 2015, Finalists in 2019, Finalists in 2021. And a World Test mace in between whiles. These are the times of their lives.

It was an astonishing and brutal display at the finish:

Oh, and here's Sampath with a stat to see you into the night: "New Zealand chased down 57 runs in the last four overs, the most target runs successfully chased by any team in men's T20Is at the death overs.

The other semi-final is tomorrow: Australia vs. Pakistan. If the Pakistani bowlers can't contain the aggressive Aussies, then we'll get a rematch of the ODI final from 2015.


The Final Four

October 19:

Pakistan will go to the semi-finals. England and Australia will likely make it. The winner of the Sunday match between India and New Zealand will fill the fourth slot.

That's how it played out. The two semi-finals:

England vs. New Zealand. A mini-rematch of the most epic day of cricket. The Kiwis have a score to settle but England go in as favorites.

Australia vs. Pakistan. Shoaib Malik saw what Australia did in the World Cup final in 1999. Then, he made his debut. Yes, he's been playing for 22 years! One of his teammates wasn't even born then! It's now or never for him. Of course, the one team that can't be underestimated in a global tournament is Australia.

Final? I'd like to see England vs. Pakistan for two reasons. They are the top two teams in the world and it'll be great to see the battle between the powerful English batsmen and the skilled bowling unit of Pakistan. The absence of Jason Roy boosts the chances for Pakistan.


Stating the obvious

if New Zealand beat Afghanistan on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, India will be knocked out along with Afghanistan.

At the post-match press conference, Jadeja even quipped: "Toh fir bags pack karke ghar jaayenge, aur kya?" (Pack the bags and go home, what else?), if New Zealand win on Sunday.

New Zealand has been quite the nemesis for India in the last two years. The ODI World Cup, the Test Championship, and now the T20 World Cup.


No trophy, again

In the World Cup, India have played two T20 matches in which their bowlers have taken a combined total of two wickets. Forget winning the tournament, they likely won't even make it to the semi-finals. Just like in 2019, it's New Zealand that squeezed the life out of the Indian batsmen.

The Indians have performed admirably in bilateral series over the past few years but their unfruitful record in global tournaments is becoming sadly predictable. The Champions Trophy, the two ODI World Cups, the Test Championship (effectively the final of a global event), and now the T20 debacle. What should be really concerning for Kohli is that in the past week, the matches weren't even close. 

I don't know if it's the burn-out from playing too much during Covid or if it's becoming a psychological thing -- kind of like how South Africa choke at basically every big event. 


Aussies annihilated

Jason Roy smacked the Australian bowlers with absolute contempt in the ODI World Cup two years ago. Today, it was Jos Buttler's turn. The new, super-aggressive approach of the English team got them the title then and they're certainly the favorites for the T20 trophy now. A battle between the power-packed English batting order and the skillful bowling of Pakistan should be pretty entertaining. If their performances continue, then the finals match will be between the two undefeated teams of the tournament.


T20 World Cup

Group 2 rankings:

  1. Pakistan
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Namibia
  4. New Zealand
  5. India
  6. Scotland

If someone had offered me a bet stating that at some point in the World Cup, Afghanistan and Namibia will be ranked higher than both India and New Zealand, I would have lost.

Oh, it could get more surreal today if Afghanistan beats Pakistan to lead the group!

Update: Afghanistan fought hard and got close. Babar didn't respect Rashid and paid for it. Pakistan needed 24 off 12 balls. Asif Ali didn't even wait for the last over to absolutely destroy the target. Ali faced seven deliveries for his Man of the Match award!

Pakistan will go to the semi-finals. England and Australia will likely make it. The winner of the Sunday match between India and New Zealand will fill the fourth slot. If the two best teams make it to the final, then it'll be England vs. Pakistan. Though, it would be more fun to have a re-match of the very first T20 World Cup final. Why, Misbah, why!?

Anyway, the scheduling in the tournament is bizarre. Pakistan has already played three matches while big teams like New Zealand and India play their second match two days later!


Kock Cucked

South African cricket goes full retard:

Quinton de Kock has apologised to his team-mates and fans for the "hurt, confusion, and anger" he caused by refusing to follow a CSA directive to take the knee at the T20 World Cup and sitting out the game against West Indies. [...]

"I understand the importance of standing against racism, and I also understand the responsibility of us as players to set an example. If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so."

Taking the knee isn't merely tolerated, it's mandatory! Surely, all those slaves workers in the United Arab Emirates must be elated when they see multimillionaire athletes on their knees for a few seconds. Perhaps, for the next World Cup, the South Africans can bend over and spread their cheeks. You know, for anti-racism.


Don't bend the knee

The BLM (Burn Loot Murder) BS has infected the world of cricket:

CSA has noted the personal decision by Quinton de Kock to not take the knee ahead of Tuesday's game against West Indies*. All players had been required, in line with a directive of the CSA board on Monday, to take the knee in a united and consistent stance against racism. And de Kock, who had chosen not to take a knee - or raise a fist or stand in attention, the other expressions of support for the BLM movement - in the past, opted against taking part in the game in Dubai altogether in a late decision.

Good on Quinton for refusing to bow down to his lunacy.

CSA's board has steered away from directing the team until this point, but changed their mind after South Africa's opening T20 World Cup match against Australia, where Australia took a knee but South Africa maintained their three options. England, West Indies, India and Scotland have also taken a knee so far, while Pakistan held their hands to their hearts.

Stop with the absurd political nonsense. Just play cricket!


The Pathans are merciless

Scotland crushed:

4 - Ducks by the Scotland batters at Nos. 3, 4 5 and 6. It is the first instance of a team's No. 3 to No. 6 batters getting out for a duck in a men's T20I innings. Five Scotland batters bagged a duck, the joint-second most in a men's T20 World Cup innings.

The Afghanistan matches against Pakistan, India, and the Kiwis should be quite entertaining. Anyway, it's quite funny to see Afghanistan leading its group.


The streak is over

There's something about the United Arab Emirates that makes the Pakistani cricket team into absolute monsters:

Pakistan recorded their first win in the men's T20 world cup against India, having failed in their previous five attempts. It was also the first time Pakistan won a men's world cup game - ODI or T20 against India, across 13 matches.

The Shah delivery that got Rahul was pure gold. Later, the Indian bowlers didn't build any pressure. Bumrah is outstanding but he couldn't make a breakthrough today.

It would be shocking if Pakistan and England didn't make the semi-finals. India will have to fight hard against the Kiwis next Sunday.


No Kiwis for Pakistan!

New Zealand have called off their limited-overs tour of Pakistan citing security concerns, leaving the cricket community in Pakistan unimpressed. PCB chairman Ramiz Raja was especially critical of the New Zealand Cricket decision, saying, "Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it is not shared! Which world is NZ living in? NZ will hear us at ICC."

"Which world is NZ living in?"

The real world, Ramiz. And it looks like New Zealand isn't alone:

"We're aware of New Zealand's decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour due to a security alert," an ECB spokesperson said. "We are liaising with our security team who are on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation. The ECB Board will then decide in the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should proceed."


Strong Root

78 all out. Sharma, Rahul, and Kohli scored a combined 26 runs. It was even more shocking to see England score 135 runs before losing a wicket. What happened?

Root is in phenomenal form. Three centuries in three matches. Over 500 runs! Reminds me of Alastair Cook's epic Ashes series in which he scored 766 runs. Root has a chance of surpassing that.

One record he'll most likely break:

875 Runs by Root against India in Tests in 2021. These are the third-most runs by any player in a calendar year against an opponent, behind only Don Bradman's 974 against England in 1930 and Clive Lloyd's 903, also against India, in 1983.

They might as well give Root the man of the series award right now.


Three failures

You know you're in trouble when you've lost more wickets than scored in runs. Pakistan was reduced to 2/3 by the West Indies. The Ali, Butt, and Ali trio managed two epic runs. Of course, this is Pakistan. So, they had a prompt century partnership for the 4th wicket.

56 runs. That's the combined score of the Pakistani openers in this series so far. That's in three innings. For context, both Babar and Fawad scored more than that today. Pakistan might as well have these two to start in the future.


Near total humiliation

Australia are back home and have began their two weeks' quarantine. They will have plenty of time to reflect on a tally of two wins and eight defeats in ten T20Is over the last month in the West Indies and in Bangladesh. There was a one-day series victory in the Caribbean which was not insignificant, but in terms of the immediate priority, it was a sobering experience.

Australia had never lost any series to Bangladesh before. Then, they got a 4-1 thrashing.

The very last game was literally their lowest:

62 Australia's total in the fifth T20I against Bangladesh, their lowest ever in the format. Their previous lowest was 79 all out against England in 2005, which was only their second T20I appearance.

Australia will bounce back. They eventually do. But that last game was really ugly.