WI V BAN & PAK V AFG, TALKING POINTS FRIDAY 29TH OCT
Pakistan v Afghanistan
Afghanistan live and die by the six-hitting sword
In recent years, Afghanistan have gained a reputation for being a six-hitting team, only behind West Indies. In the pre-match press conference, Rashid Khan said the batters would be more circumspect and play themselves in, given the difficult batting conditions and the large boundary sizes.
However, on the day, having chosen to bat – going against the trend of chasing – Afghanistan came out blazing. The opening six overs under fielding restrictions saw Afghanistan swing hard, and miss often. But even when they lost wickets, they lost none of their intent. Keeping faith in their batting depth, they continued to be aggressive all through.
It resulted in an entertaining, action-packed Powerplay, where four wickets fell, but 34 of their 49 runs came in boundaries.
The Rashid factor
Afghanistan held back the best T20 bowler in the world till the 11th over, which meant Pakistan would face four quality overs of spin at a crucial point in their chase.
His first over was full of false shots and edges, the googly as potent as ever. He also nearly had Babar Azam trapped in front, only for the decision to be overturned on review.
Rashid got his first wicket in his third over, when Mohammad Hafeez tried to take him on. That was the 100th wicket of his T20I career. The milestone came in 53 matches, making him the fastest man to get there, ahead of Lasith Malinga, who took 76 matches for the feat. In all, he is the fourth bowler to the three-figure mark in men’s T20Is.
Babar, who seemed to struggle to pick Rashid, got another life when he miscued, only for Naveen-ul-Haq to shell the catch. The very next ball, though, he swung and missed the googly to be bowled.
Asif Ali, the finisher
When Rashid knocked over Babar’s stumps, and then Naveen bowled an excellent over to send back Shoaib Malik, Pakistan needed 24 off the last two overs. Afghanistan would have backed themselves to press their advantage.
But Pakistan have proved in their last two matches that they have an X-factor: an in-form finisher in Asif Ali for whom no ask seems too high.
Ali refused a single off the last ball of the 18th and needed just one more over to finish the match. He smashed four sixes off Karim Janat, punishing the bowler when his yorkers missed their mark. He had an incredible 25 off just 7 balls to get the Pakistan fans on their feet. A reminder that his 27* off 12 balls in the previous game against New Zealand was no fluke.
West Indies v Bangladesh
Glimmer of hope for West Indies
There is still hope for the West Indies as they look to defend their T20 World Cup crown after this scrappiest of wins against Bangladesh.
Both teams knew that a defeat would effectively end their hopes of progressing from Group 1, and it was a nervy affair throughout, with the West Indies looking well short of the level they are capable of producing.
But Nicholas Pooran and Jason Holder’s late hits with the bat gave them a sniff, and some terrific bowling from the experienced collection of seamers to defend 143 means that West Indies are still in with a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
They will likely have to beat both Sri Lanka and Australia in their remaining Super 12 fixtures to stand a chance of progressing, with one of those victories also probably needing to be a heavy win to correct the net run rate position. And they will also need other results to go their way.
But West Indies are still in this tournament, and the confidence that this win will provide, combined with the quality the squad have, means they are still very much a threat in Group 1.
Liton Das steps up
Sri Lanka’s wicketkeeper had limped his way through the tournament prior to this match, with an average of just 13 in one of the key positions up the order being one of his side’s major weaknesses.
But Das delivered an extremely mature batting performance to anchor the Bangladesh chase, with his knock of 44 off 43 allowing the rest of the batting line-up to work around him.
He was unfortunate to fall in the penultimate over going for the big hit, with Holder taking a peach of a catch on the rope. But Das did all he could to get his side into a position from where they should have won the game.
With fitness concerns over Shakib Al Hasan, it could be that Das has a more crucial role to play with the bat in the remainder of Bangladesh’s tournament. But it may be that the remaining fixtures are just for pride, with chances of qualifying after three losses extremely slim.
Holder shows his class
This was Holder’s first match of the T20 World Cup after he was called up as an injury replacement.
But such was the quality of the all-rounder’s performance that it does call into question why he wasn’t part of the squad in the first place.
Holder’s emergence as a T20 star has come late in the World Cup cycle, so it is perhaps understandable why he just has 28 T20I caps to his name.
But he has been excelling with both bat and ball in the format over the last couple of years, and showed why his call-up was better late than never.
His late flurry of 15 off five deliveries helped West Indies to a competitive score (while perhaps hinting that he should have come in a little earlier). And his four overs with the ball went for just 22 runs, keeping things tight and putting big pressure on Bangladesh.
And just to underline his quality he pulled off a brilliant catch on the rope at the death to dismiss Das, a moment that proved critical.
-T20 World Cup