India, Australia Win in Epic Thrillers
India sent out a strong message to the rest of the teams in the T20 World Cup that they are a force to be reckoned with. The Men in Blue reached England’s 188 runs with an over to spare.
Playing the No. 1 ranked side in T20I cricket, India found themselves chasing a big total. England’s openers fumbled a bit in the first inning, and their middle order in the likes of Jonny Bairstow (49 off 36), Liam Livingstone (30 off 20), and Moeen Ali (43 off 20) put up a solid fight.
Ultimately, England ended the inning at 188-5. Mohammad Shami got 3 wickets while Jasprit Bumrah and Rahul Chahar got 1 each.
In response, India batted with panache and flexed the depth of their squad. KL Rahul smashed 51 off 24 with 6 fours and 3 sixes. Ishan Kishan scored 70 off 46 with similar boundary stats although, he retired from the inning rather than getting out.
Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya added on to this solid foundation, adding 45 runs between them. In the 19th over, Hardik smashed Chris Jordan for three fours while Pant struck a six to win the match with 192-3.
England used seven bowlers at their disposal and except for David Willey and Livingstone, all the others proved to be quite expensive.
Australia Win with Nail-Biting Finish
Australia and New Zealand played the most entertaining warm-up of the day, with the Invincibles beating the Black Caps by 3 wickets with 1 ball remaining.
Chasing a target of 159 runs, the Aussies had a wobbly inning with no real partnership. David Warner got out at 0 while the likes of Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Marcus Stoinis, and Ashton Agar each added 20+ runs to the board.
It all came down to the final over where Australia needed 12 off 6.
In the third ball of that over, Agar got out with new batsman Josh Inglis on the strike, needing 8 off 3. Inglis smashed Kyle Jamieson for consecutive fours to win the match with 159-7.
In all fairness, New Zealand weren’t that bad or inferior – it is just one of those days where everything goes right and even then, fate favours the other side.
The Kiwis, batting first, put up 158-7 on the board with all three openers – Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, and Kane Williamson scoring upwards of 30 runs each. They may have let go of the discipline in bowling with Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson going for economy rates of over 10.00.
Pakistan, South Africa Start Well
Pakistan played the defending champions West Indies in the practice game and sailed to a comfortable victory by 7 wickets.
The men from the Caribbean won the toss and chose to bat first. Boasting a team of T20 specialists and some big guns like Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, and others, the best they could do was 130-7 in 20 overs.
Shimron Hetmyer, carrying his fine form from the IPL, was the highest run-getter with 28 while Gayle scored 20 runs.
Credit where it’s due, Pakistan were absolutely superb with the ball. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, and Haris Rauf got two wickets each.
With the bat, they excelled just as well, chasing down the target with 131-3 with 27 balls to spare. Babar Azam’s 50 and Fakhar Zaman’s 46 gave Pakistan a comfortable start to eventually win the match by 7 wickets.
A Day to Forget for Afghanistan
South Africa were also off to a solid start, beating Afghanistan by 41 runs in the warm-up.
Batting first, the Proteans put the figures of 145-5 on the board, to which their Afghani counterparts responded with 104-8. Five of those eight wickets went for single digits, which also includes three duck outs.
Intriguingly, Rashid Khan did not bowl a single delivery in the match. For South Africa, Tabraiz Shamsi and Lungi Ngidi were the highest wicket-takers with three and two respectively.