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13th Match, ICC World Twenty20, Group E, Super Eight Round: It was perfect and much needed match for a tournament which was until that moment said to be dull and drab. With Sri Lanka needed 1 off last ball Lahiru Thirimanne, who had just hit a Four on the previous ball, was run out in a most dramatic fashion you would ever see to tie the game, what was second tie of the World Twenty20s.

The match went into Super Over, where either of the teams failed to hit boundary. But Sri Lanka, with help of some extras from Tim Southee, managed to put on 13 as a new target which New Zealand failed to chase against Lasith Malinga. The match will officially remain as tied but Sri Lanka will take two important points in Super Eight. It was 4th time, the most by any, that the Kiwis were involved in a Tie match in Twenty20 Internationals.

Tilakratne Dilshan (76) and Mahela Jaywardene (44) set a solid platform in chase of 175 and at one stage it seemed as if the home team will win it with ease but the Sri Lankan middle order couldn’t continue the momentum built by their openers. Before that New Zealand’s openers, Rob Nicol (58) and Martil Guptil (38), too were the reason of their team’s total 174.

Tilakratne Dilshan was named Man of the Match for his 76 off 53 balls under chase.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 28th, 2012

South Africa may have been Number One team of this format but when they square up against Pakistan on Friday they will have some history and team, more suited to the conditions, to beat. In two of their previous clashes in World Twenty20s, Pakistan ended up as the victorious – one was Semi Final other effectively a knock-out match too in 2009 and 2010.

Pakistan have come into Super Eight Round fighting their way, they have defended a target and also chased one, what was the highest ever T20 chase in Sri Lanka. Contrary to that South Africa eased their way in a fashion that they were through to the next round just after beating Zimbabwe, which also turned their next match (reduced to 7 overs) against Sri Lanka into dead-rubber, and their batsmen haven’t been properly tested yet particularly against the spinners, which are likely to boast an elaborated threat on the Premadasa’s wicket.

The Premadas’s wicket has shown to be different from those in Hambantota and Pallekele and, if the match between England and India is anything to go by, the wicket is likely to assist spin (Pakistan’s strength). It is also being said that as the tournament goes ahead, more matches are played, it [the Premadasa] will offer more turn to the spinners.

On both the previous occasions in the World Twenty20s when South Africans were beaten by Pakistan, they looked hapless against spinners. In Semi Final 2009, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal had a combine spell of 8 overs (3 wickets for 39 runs) while in Super Eight Match in 2010 the same duo had 8 overs (4 wickets for 47 runs). This time around they will have to face another spinner in Mohammad Hafeez, who now regularly bowls 4 overs.

Though unlikely but provided South Africa’s struggle against spinners and Colombo likely to assists the turners, Pakistan might contemplate on bringing in 4th specialist spinner, Raza Hassan ,by replacing a seamer such as Sohail Tanvir or Yasir Arafat. Or they can use Shoaib Malik for few overs. Barring Hashim Amla, it is hard to think of a South African batsman whose technique can counter the spin attack as versatile as Ajmal, Hafeez and Afridi. And by countering it is meant to score runs against them at a good rate.

Pakistan seamers however have remained highly disappointed so far even Umar Gul, the leading wicket taker in World T20 2007 and 2009, has been hammered like a club bowler. That apparently is their foremost vulnerability in this event.

One department of both the teams have not been fully trialed yet in this tournament, their batting middle-order. Pakistan’s top three have had such a formidable show so far that in both of their matches the middle-order was not tasted fully. Pakistan may need to tweak the order a bit in case they lose early wickets, they may need to a bring  a batsman of accumulating skills up the order to forestall a collapse. Asad Shafiq looks fitting for this job but since he is unlikely to make into playing XI Shoaib Malik may fit the bill. South Africa’s middle-order concern remains with Faf du Plessis who is yet to announce himself in Twenty20 ‘internationals.’

Pakistan batsmen will also have to watch out for Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, who would tempt them with short-pitch deliveries, and this time Nazir and Hafeez won’t get those at the pace of Bangladesh bowlers. And it is not that Pakistan batsmen would not get troubled by spin. They will have to avert the danger of Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, who was their leading wicket-taker in last year’s World Cup in the Subcontinent and may get a game tomorrow at spin-friendly conditions. Pakistan batsmen did show some signs of trouble against spinners in warm-up matches.

Going by the tournament’s history, the pitch conditions, and fact that they play tomorrow on back of 4 wins out of their last five Twenty20 internationals, Pakistan would start as favourites.

Stats and Trivia

- South Africa have won 3 out of five Twenty20 Internationals against Pakistan, the two they lost were in World T20s.

- In all the 5 matches, Pakistan batted first.

- With 116 Runs, Shahid Afridi is the most successful batsman in both the teams while facing each other. Graeme Smith has 145, but he is not in the tournament.

- It took Shahid Afridi 22 matches to score his first Twenty20 fifty, and it came against South Africa in Semi Final of World T20 2009.

- Pakistan have most number of wins (36) in Twenty20 Internationals, next are South Africa with 32.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 27th, 2012

ICC announced umpire appointments for the Super Eight Round of the ICC World Twenty20. Rod Tucker and Richard Kettleborough are set to stand in Pakistan-India clash on September 30 in Colombo. Following are the appointments of the on-field umpires.

Thursday 27 September: Sri Lanka v New Zealand, Pallekele (Simon Taufel and Aleem Dar).

Thursday 27 September:  England v West Indies, Pallekele (Steve Davis and Asad Rauf).

Friday 28 September: Pakistan v South Africa, Colombo (Rod Tucker and Ian Gould).

Friday 28 September: Australia v India, Colombo (Kumar Dharmasena and Richard Kettleborough).

Saturday 29 September: England v New Zealand, Pallekele. (Simon Taufel and Asad Rauf).

Saturday 29 September: Sri Lanka v West Indies, Pallekele (Steve Davis and Aleem Dar).

Sunday 30 September: Australia v South Africa, Colombo (Ian Gould and Kumar Dharmasena).

Sunday 30 September: India v Pakistan, Colombo (Rod Tucker and Richard Kettleborough).

Monday 1 October: New Zealand v West Indies, Pallekele (Asad Rauf and Aleem Dar).

Monday 1 October: England v Sri Lanka, Pallekele (Simon Taufel and Steve Davis).

Tuesday 2 October: Australia v Pakistan, Colombo (Richard Kettleborough and Ian Gould).

Tuesday 2 October: India v South Africa, Colombo (Kumar Dharmasena and Rod Tucker).

By CricLens Staff Report on September 27th, 2012

12th Match, ICC World Twenty20, Group D, Pallekele: Given their team’s poor record in the chases in the past, Pakistan fans were left on their toes when minimum Pakistan needed to score was 140 to advance to the next round of the event. But Imran Nazir cut to the chase in a way that was enough for 176, their highest ever successful chase, let alone 140. Nazir scored 72 from 36 balls and, meanwhile, blasted fastest fifty (off 25 balls) of World Twenty 2012.

The platform to chase a daunting target was set by Pakistan’s opening pair Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Nazir, who had 124 for the first wicket. It was second consecutive time that Pakistan opening pair scored hundred-plus against Bangladesh in World T20s. Last time, Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt had 142 in West Indies 2010.

By the end of 14th over, Pakistan had lost both Nazir and Hafeez with 126 on board, but they were left needed only 50 more to win off 30 balls. Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal two batsmen in form made sure that Pakistan are looking for win, not just to qualify, as they blasted their cameos of 29 off 14 balls and 22 off 15 balls respectively.

Earlier Shakib Al-Hassan scored his career best 84 from 54 balls, the highest T20 score by any batsman against Pakistan, to take Bangladesh to 175. Pakistan bowlers, barring Shahid Afridi who had spell of 4-0-20-1, were highly unimpressive on field, for they kept bowling lose and short deliveries to batsmen like Tamim Iqbal and Shakib. Also their fielding put on a shoddy show, Sohail Tanvir dropped as easy a catch that Allan Wilkins said: It’s drop of the tournament.

Stats and Trivia

- Pakistan’s top batsmen in batting order Imran Nazir, Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed have scores 97 , 88 , 85 in two  matches of this event so far.

- Mohammad Hafeez has played 14 matches in ICC World Twenty20s, only twice he has scored more than 20 runs, both the innings have come in this event – 43 against New Zealand and 45 against Bangladesh.

- 176 is the highest target chased by Pakistan in Twenty20 Internationals.

- It was sixth match at Pallekele, and first time a team chased the target successfully.

- With 14 wins, Pakistan now have most in World Twenty20s.

- Shakib Al-Hassan scored 84 to become highest individual scorer against Pakistan in Twenty20. The next highest is also a Bangladeshi, 81 by Nazimuddin.

- Saeed Ajmal’s bowling average against every team is less than 20 in Twenty20I Cricket. But against Bangladesh it is 69.00.

- For the first time in ten months, Saeed Ajmal went wicket-less in T20 internationals.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 26th, 2012

Since 2000, Bangladesh have played against 17 different international teams and, save Pakistan, they have beaten all [16] at least once.

While it is surprising that they have not won in 13 years and 37 international matches, what’s more surprising is never even once there came a possibility of No-Result (like rain) to end Pakistan’s constantly growing winning streak. When these teams meet on Tuesday in last group match of ICC World Twenty20, Bangladesh would hope to halt Pakistan’s run in such a way that their Run Rate go better than Pakistan’s to take them into Super Eight, otherwise only a win will not guarantee them a place in the next round.

Numbers, however, don’t depict that it hasn’t been a cakewalk for Pakistan lately when they were up against Bangladesh. In both the matches of Asia Cup this year, particularly in the Final, they were made to work hard so much so that, in Final, Bangladesh were just an inside or outside edge away from beating and ending their reign.

Pakistan has the history going in their favour, and they would want it is not re-written. They are astute enough to avoid complacency factor, but even then, playing at their full strength, a concern remains for Pakistan with their fast bowlers, a department which has not developed ever since rattled the by happenings of 28-8-10.

A decade ago, or even before departure of Aamir and Asif, it would be laughing matter to bother about Pakistan fast bowlers. Today, it is hard to even think of one pacer who looks a certain pick in the eleven, not even Umar Gul. The bowler, Junaid Khan, who had shown lot of promise recently is not part of the squad.  Sohail Tanvir rode his early success on his unusual action which, apparently, is picked now, and he has lost pace since knee surgery. Yasir Arafat does not enjoy the luxury of seaming tracks, like those in England that have yielded him wickets in county cricket. And for Mohammad Sami, only a man with mass prize-bond awards would risk his selection.

Eight of the 20 overs, which are more often than not spin-less, remain fear-factor for Pakistan, and considering it Pakistan’s Achilles heel, that’s where oppositions could target them, like Ross Taylor nearly did the other night. It is unlikely against Bangladesh though, but as they move into Super Eight and fast bowling problems don’t get fixed, it is just as possible that Pakistan bring in their fourth spinner, Raza Hassan, by replacing a fast bowler like Tanvir or Arafat.  And there is option of a part-timer spinner, Shoaib Malik, too without going for the fourth specialist.

Since fast bowlers are not delivering, it also exposes Pakistan’s weakness in depth overs. Ajmal would handle one end, the other remains vulnerable unless Umar Gul finds his trait back, the Yorkers.

When the things unfold, it will also be interesting to see how Bangladesh handle Pakistan spinners, Saeed Ajmal in particular, who is going to be tackled by insights from Bangladesh’s bowling coach Saqlain Mushtaq, the discoverer of Ajmal’s weapon [Doosra]. Bangladesh would depend a lot on their key players such as Tamim Iqbal, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al-Hassan, two of them failed to make an impact in their last game, so they would hope such performances are not repeated.

Stats and Trivia

- Since 2000, Bangladesh have beaten every Test playing nation in International cricket but Pakistan.

- Pakistan have won 24 consecutive ODI Matches against Bangladesh, the most by any team against a particularly opposition.

- Highest score by a Pakistan batsman in Twenty20 Int.  is 87, and it was against Bangladesh by Misbah-ul-Haq in Karachi 2008.

- Pakistan’s highest partnership  for any wicket in Twenty20 Internationals is 142 (between Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt),  it came against Bangladesh in last ICC World Twenty20.

By Mazher Arshad on September 25th, 2012

11th Match, ICC World Twenty20, Group B, Colombo (RPS): As the rain had the final say, match between West Indies and Ireland was washed-out. The result pushed West Indies to next round on base of their better Net Run Rate than Ireland.

Only 19-overs play was possible, an interuption at start of the game had cut off one over, in which Ireland batted and set a target of 130 for West Indies, but rain arrived again before the start of 2nd innings and the game got washed-out.

Both the teams had been beaten by Australia in the group, but West Indies had contested against Australia better than Ireland so the former had better Run Rate. But despite that it was frustrating for both the teams, for Ireland because they now take flight back to home without having a proper contest, for West Indies because they go in Super Eight without winning a game, more so without completing a game, both due to rains.

It further opened the debate against ICC for scheduling this world event in Sri Lanka during this part of the year when moonsoon rains are expected to hit the island. As the event gets into its main round from September 27, there are more rain predictions.

Seven teams have now been confirmed for Super Eight Round. The 8th team will be either Pakistan or Bangladesh.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 24th, 2012

New Zealand from Group D have already advanced into Super Eight Round due to their superior Net Run Rate (+1.150) whereas Pakistan and Bangladesh are still not confirmed for the next round.

If Pakistan are to go in Super Eight, they must not lose to Bangladesh by margin of 36 or more runs when they play on Tuesday (September 25) in Pallekele. Or if Pakistan bat first then they must not let Bangladesh chase target before 16 overs. In other words, if Bangladesh win by at least 36 runs or chase the target in less than 16 overs, they will knock out Pakistan from the event and will go through along with New Zealand.

If the match between Pakistan and Bangladesh is washed-out (No Result) then Pakistan will qualify for Super Eight Round.

Pakistan’s current Run Rate: +0.650

Bangladesh’s current Run Rate: -2.950

Case I – Bangladesh score 150 and Pakistan are restricted to 114. Then the Net Run Rate will be as followed:

Teams Matches Points Net RR
New Zealand 2 2 +1.150
Bangladesh 2 2 -0.575
Pakistan 2 2 -0.575

In Case-I, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be having same Net Run Rate but Bangladesh will progress to next round on account of beating Pakistan in head-to-head match. Net Run Rate will not alter in a different scenario like: Bangladesh score 170 and Pakistan are restricted to 134 or Bangladesh score 190 and Pakistan are restricted to 154.

PS: If a team gets All Out before 20 overs, it will be considered they have played all their resources [20 overs].

Case II – Pakistan score 150 and Bangladesh chase the target of 151 in 15.5 overs. Then NRR will be as followed:

Teams Matches Points Net RR
New Zealand 2 2 +1.150
Bangladesh 2 2 -0.555
Pakistan 2 2 -0.695

In the Case II, permutations could be slightly different if target is above 150 or less than 150. But anything Bangladesh chasing in less than 16 overs will be threatening for Pakistan. For Example, if Pakistan score 130 then Bangladesh will still be needing to chase it down in 15.5 overs. A lesser target will have better chances for Bangladesh to go through.

Lowdowns from the previous events with respect to Pakistan.

It has not been a cakewalk for Pakistan to go in Super Eight Round in the previous two ICC World Twenty20s.

World Twenty20 2010: Pakistan and Australia had beaten Bangladesh in Group Stage, but Pakistan had to rely on game between Bangladesh and Australia. Bangladesh needed to chase target of Australia in around 19 overs to knock-out Pakistan. And the way game progressed, at one stage when Australia were reduced to 65-6 it looked like Pakistan would get knocked-out.

World Twenty20 2009: The Netherlands had beaten England and England had beaten Pakistan. So when Pakistan met Netherlands, only a win did not guarantee Pakistan a place in Super Eight, they had to win by margin of 25 Runs against Netherlands to go through. For good measures, Pakistan won it by 82 Runs.

World Twenty20 2007: Pakistan had beaten Scotland, and match of India vs Scotland was washed-out. Not a threat for Pakistan but had Pakistan chased India’s target of 142 in less than 14 overs then India would have been knocked-out.

Mazher Arshad is a freelance Cricket writer, he tweets here.

By Mazher Arshad on September 24th, 2012

10th Match, Group A, ICC World Twenty20m, Colombo (RPS): If there ever was a notion that England have not progressed on from their struggles against spin, it has just been strengthened as they suffered their largest loss (by runs) in Twenty20 internationals – 90 runs – at the hands of India. England were bowled out for 80, largely due to 6 wickets between the spinners Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh. The duo went for only 25 runs in their 8 overs, three of those were maidens.

It was ironic as well, for just 2 days ago England had their largest victory (by runs) against Afghanistan in T20 internationals, and today again it was the largest but in terms of loss. At 60-9, England were well with in danger of getting bowled out for lowest ever total in a Twenty20 International, 67 by Kenya, but Jade Dernbach saved them from this embarrassment.

No England batsmen, save Craig Kieswetter – 35 off 25 balls, looked to stand against India bowlers as the wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Harbhajan Singh, playing international cricket first time in 14 months, ended up taking 4 wickets for 12 runs, the best by an Indian bowler in Twenty20 Internationals. England got all out on 80 and there was nothing to write home about.

Earlier, India, who were put into bat, experimented not with their selections but also with their batting order. The surprise came when Irfan Pathan walked out along with Gautam Gambhir to open the innings, their partnership ended after 24 runs when Pathan was bowled by Steven Finn. That brought one of the most in-form batsman Virat Kohli on crease, he was to have partnership of 57 with Gambhir. When Kohli got out after his 40, India were 81-2 in 11th over.

Rohit Sharma, playing in this dead-rubber, called the time right to hit the form and scored 55 off 33 balls. In the interim, Gambhir fell after 45. The efforts of Indian batsmen and 12 extras by England had India at 170 at the end of twenty overs of the innings.

Harbhajan Singh was named Man of the Match for his spell of 4-2-12-24.

India now play their first match of Super Eight Round against Australia on September 28 in Colombo (RPS).

By CricLens Staff Report on September 23rd, 2012

9th Match, Group D, ICC World Twenty20, Pallekele: It hints pure team-effort when it is hard to decide who would your Man of the Match be. Pakistan had that hint as they pounded, although not easily, New Zealand by 13 runs.

It was Mohammad Hafeez’s all-round performance, Imran Nazir’s attacking start, Nasir Jamshed’s blistering & calculated fifty, Umar Akmal’s cameo, Saeed Ajmal’s four wickets and, even, out of form Shahid Afridi’s 6-ball 12 and breakthrough with ball that got the better of New Zealand, who, mainly due to batting form of Brendon McCullum, had come in this match tagged as favourites.

As sun glowed out at Pallekele and pitch showing no frightening signs for batsmen, Hafeez opted to bat after winning the toss and went he, after getting dropped by his vis-a-vis Ross Taylor at first slip in first over, off to a good start with Imran Nazir who scored 25 off 16 balls, courtesy of chic and well-timed shots (like one flick off his leg towards fine-leg for Four), before getting caught and bowled to Tim Southee at the stroke of the end of Power Play.

Nasir Jamshed came in middle and made sure the momentum innings has had by Nazir will not be disturbed. Jamshed painted his Wagon Wheel all around with stunning 4 Sixes – two through extra cover, inside out shots with sheer timing and execution; one through pull over fine-leg off a bouncer; one over square-leg where Rob Nicol palmed out the ball over the boundary – and two fours.

Jasmshed’s innings was so overwhelming that role of  Hafeez, who did have lovely shots off his bat, was turned into second fiddle. When Hafeez got out, bowled by Frankling, scoring 43, Pakistan were well controlled at 123-2 in 14th over. But his dismissal was followed by Kamran Akmal and Jamshed in consecutive overs that halted flow of runs for a while. Jamshed departed after scoring his first Twenty20I century.

It took some time to gain momentum again, for that Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi’s cameos of 23 and 12 respectively carried Pakistan innings to 177.

Southee and Oram pocketed 2 wickets each but went for 31 and 44 runs. Daniel Vettori had only a wicket to his account but leaked only 23 runs off his four overs.

New Zealand started off slowly but without any damage. Rob Nicol and Kane Williamson had opening partnership of 53 but just when they looked threatening, in came Shahid Afridi and sneaked through defence of Nicol to have him clean bowled – Yes, there were X-man celebrations too. The very next over saw Williamson getting run out via brilliant throw from Jamshed.

To have left-and-right-hand batting combination, New Zealand promoted Daniel Vettori up the order to accompany Brendon McCullum, who also started off slowly before starting his assault, that had back to back fours off Saeed Ajmal’s bowling.

Ajmal was not brought into the attack before 12th over and when he came to bowl at McCullum, it was contest between Number 1 Batsman and Bowler in ICC T20 Rankings, and between leading run-getter and wicket-taker in Twenty20 internationals. Amidst all that Mohammad Hafeez bowled a miser spell reading 4-015-0 despite going for Six by McCullum on last ball of his spell.

Vettori became first victim of Ajmal as he tried to drive through extra cover but found safe hands of Nasir Jamshed. When New Zealand needed 70 off 30 balls, McCullum was bowled, played on, by Umar Gul’s first ball of the 16th over.

Ross Taylor, who must have known what he did at this venue to Pakistan last year in World Cup, delayed his arrival and rather sent Jacob Oram before him. Oram got out after hitting couple of boundaries and he was followed by James Franklin who also scared Pakistan a bit.

It seemed all over for New Zealand when they needed 34 off last 12 balls but they nearly had a Dunkirk moment when Ross Taylor charged Gul with three back to back fours at start of the penultimate over, reducing New Zealand target to 22 off nine balls. Taylor strategy of late arrival almost paid off if not for his run out on the next ball when Kamran Akmal’s reflexes turned out to be too good for him as he tried to run two.

New Zealand needed 19 to win off last over to be bowled by Saeed Ajmal but Ajmal didn’t have any scary version this time as he finished the job by leaking only six runs and grabbing 2 more wickets, taking his match figures to 4 for 30.

Nasir Jamshed was named Man of the Match for his blistering fifty.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 23rd, 2012

8th Match, ICC World Twenty20, Group B, Colombo (RPS): Just when it was about to get into a contest to watch, rain had the final say in Australia’s innings when they were 100-1 after 9.1 overs in chase of 192 set earlier by West Indies. Australia prevailed by 17 runs as the D/L par after 9.1 overs at loss of one wicket was 83.

With this result, Australia have now qualified for the next round while West Indies wait on their next game, against Ireland, which they must win or hope for another wash-out to take them into Super Eight Round. It was first game of the event with contest and context, unlike the other rain-affected game of the day between South Africa and Sri Lanka, it was not a dead-rubber.

17-run-win by Australia would not translate the real situation of the match where West Indies still could end as victorious. Australia had a flying start in chase of 192 largely due David Warner’s fearless batting approach. He scored 28 off 14 balls and was, may be wrongly, given caught behind by Asad Rauf. Warner’s gesture suggested he had not edged it.

Mike Hussey was promoted up at one down to accompany Shane Watson who took on the hitting duties as Warner departed. Watson was in mood to take no prisoners as he catapulted number balls bowled at him and soon he was on 41 from just 21 balls. 20 of his runs came off four consecutive balls by Marlon Samuels, who was hit for 4, 6, 6 and 4. Watson was batting with such power that even his one mistimed hit carried for Six over long-off however he was also given a chance at deep square-leg where he was dropped by Dwayne Smith as the ball popped out his hand over the boundary for six. In the very next over, rain stopped the play, and Australia at that stage were 17 runs ahead of the par D/L score.

Earlier West Indies innings was powered by Chris Gayle who scored 54 from 33 balls with help of 5 fours and 4 sixes, he was caught and bowled by Shane Watson, who had dropped him earlier in the innings, after a leading-edge. Gayle’s dismissal might have slowed down West Indies if not for Marlon Samules fine form, that resulted in another 50 off just 32 balls. Little contributions from Dwayne Bravo, Kierron Pollard and Darren Sammy took West Indies to a total of 191.

Mitchell Starc went for 35 runs but grabbed three wickets while Shane Watson, continuing his bowling form, took 2 wickets for 29 Runs. For his all-round performance, Shane Watson was named Man of the Match.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 22nd, 2012