Cricket: Plenty of drama to satisfy the fans

By David Leggat

Mitchell Santner of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images
Mitchell Santner of New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images

You can't say the World T20 championship has been short on drama.

It will never appeal to the purists, who doubtless mutter at the screen as yet another heave squirts past the stumps to the fine leg fence.

There's rarely room for recovery from a poor start. No second chances. Nothing wrong with that.

And yet there's been plenty of engrossing moments in the sixth edition of the event, which so far has produced five different winners. The bowlers have had conditions to help them so there have been few matches of total batting dominance, and that's no bad thing either.

New Zealand gave it just the start it needed when they turned over India on the opening night in Nagpur.

Chris Gayle gave it a kick in the pants with his blazing century for the West Indies against England; and Shahid Afridi briefly gave Pakistan hope that this could be another of those special times for a nation who so often flatter to deceive.

When Gayle could not bat against Sri Lanka, up stepped Andre Fletcher, who slapped an unbeaten 84 off 64 balls to push the Windies past ordinary opponents, who had their hands full coping with the spin of Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn.

Who would have picked England would chase down South Africa's 229 in Mumbai. Joe Root, top class batsman but a thrasher of a decent attack? Try 83 off 44 balls from Root. Terrific.

And how about Afghanistan. They had England reeling at 85 for seven, but finished up losing by 15 runs.

The Afghanis beat Scotland at last year's World Cup in Dunedin and were delirious. So imagine what reaction dumping a major nation would draw from them.

This could have been the day, but no matter, it will come. There is enough natural ability in their ranks and now getting opportunities.

Bangladesh should have beaten India in Bangalore.

Instead, they managed to lose three wickets off the final three balls of the match to come up two short.

A couple of dabbed singles would have done the job.

Instead, the desire to win it with a flourish led to a heart-breaking loss.

India's captain MS Dhoni put the win down to "managing chaos".

Whatever.

The result might yet have a major bearing on the tournament's outcome.

India have now beaten Pakistan - they always do in T20 cricket - and against Bangladesh escaped defeat in the most improbable circumstances.

Would you fancy them to make sure of their spot in the semifinals by beating Australia in Mohali early on Monday (NZT)?

It always shaped as a clutch match from the time the draw was made.

The only thing is, it may have long been expected to decide who finishes first and second, rather than second and nowhere.

New Zealand's shadow has been long over this tournament, the way they have played raising eyebrows and winning deserved praise.

But a hunch would be watch out for the hosts, if they bump Australia out early next week.

- NZ Herald

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