2016 is about to come to an end and the teams around the world have finished playing all the Twenty20 Internationals. This year also had the sixth edition of World T20 as West Indies created history by becoming the first team to win two World T20s by beating England in the finals of this year’s tournament in Kolkata.
Indian batsman Virat Kohli was in sublime form throughout the year as he scored 641 runs in 13 innings at an average of 106.83 and a strike-rate of 140.26. His dominance was evident by the fact that he lead the run scoring charts by 144 runs. As far as the leading wicket-taker is concerned, India’s Jasprit Bumrah ended the year at the top with 28 wickets in 21 matches at an average of 18.82 and an economy of just over 6.
A total of 99 T20Is were played this year with 28113 runs being scored in 3629 overs at a rate of 7.74 runs per over. Among those 99 matches, there were a lot of close encounters. Let us take a look at the five nail-biting T20Is that were played in 2016.
#1 South Africa vs England, Capetown
Towards the end of 2015, England began their tour of South Africa in the best possible manner as they thrashed the hosts 1-2 in the four-match Test series. After going down in the first two ODIs, AB de Villiers’ men staged a stunning comeback to win the next three matches and clinch the five-match ODI series 3-2. With the 2016 World T20 just days away, all eyes were on the two T20Is between both the teams as they began their preparation for the extravaganza.
The first T20I at Capetown was a humdinger and kept the fans on the edge of their seats. After choosing to bowl first, the Proteas bowlers did a fantastic job of restricting Eoin Morgan’s men to just 134 in 20 overs. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir was the pick of the bowlers as he took four wickets for just 21 runs in his four overs. Jos Buttler’s scratchy unbeaten 32 took his side to a respectable position.
In reply, the South African openers got their team off to a good start before Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes removed both AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla in the last two overs of the powerplay. Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy looked completely out of touch as they struggled to score at run a ball before Duminy perished to Rashid. Du Plessis, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller and David Wiese followed Duminy in quick succession and that left Du Plessis men needing 15 off the last over.
Reece Topley bowled the last over for the Poms and Chris Morris dispatched the second and third ball of the over for a four and a six respectively. With four needed off the last three balls, Topley squeezed in a dot ball and Morris completed a double off the penultimate ball. With two needed off the last ball, Morris hit the ball to the long-off fielder, who collected the ball quickly and threw it to the bowler just to see him failing to gather the ball.
It could have been a wicket and a tie. Instead, the Proteas sneaked home with three wickets in hand.
#2 South Africa vs Australia, Johannesburg
Whenever South Africa and Australia face each other at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, memories of the historic ODI between both these teams will come across the fans’ mind. Earlier this year, when these two teams squared off at the Wanderers for a T20I, the match resembled the ODI in which South Africa chased down 438 in reply to Australia’s 434.
After losing the first T20I of the three-match series, Australian skipper Steve Smith won the toss and asked the Proteas to bat. Quinton de Kock’s swashbuckling start followed by Faf du Plessis’ 41-ball 79 and David Miller’s 18-ball 33 put South Africa in a strong position as they ended their 20 overs with the scorecard reading 204-7.
Chasing a massive total, the visitors lost opener, Aaron Finch early and his fellow opener Shane Watson was having a torrid time with the bat. Skipper Steve Smith couldn’t do much as he departed soon after and Watson immediately followed him for a 15-ball 9.
Australia were reduced to 32-3 inside the first six overs. It was then that David Warner and Glenn Maxwell came together and stitched an innings together. They played their natural game and took their team out of the misery they were put in. Both reached their individual fifties and looked like they were on a mission to take their team home. With 12 needed off seven balls, Maxwell was caught by AB de Villiers for a 43-ball 75 and off the very next ball (the first ball of the last over), Kagiso Rabada castled Warner for a 40-ball 77.
At that stage, the Aussies needed 12 runs off five balls with Mitch Marsh and James Faulkner at the crease. They somehow managed to score ten off four balls and with two needed off the final delivery, Marsh hit the ball down the ground and sneaked in a double to take their team to a huge five-wicket win.
#3 England vs West Indies, Kolkata
No one expected England to reach the finals of the 2016 World T20 but they defied odds and booked a face-off against favourites West Indies in the finals. Both teams were chasing history ahead of the match as the winner was all set to become the first team to win the World T20 twice.
After being asked to bat first, England were reduced to 23-5 inside the first five overs. Joe Root and Jos Buttler tried their best to take England to a strong position on a wicket that had something for the spinners. The duo had put on a 61-run partnership for the fourth wicket before Buttler departed for 36. Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Joe Root fell in the space of 4 balls as the Poms were reduced to 111-7 after 14.1 overs.
A late charge from David Willey took his team to 155-9 after 20 overs. Chasing 156 to win, West Indies lost Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle in the second over bowled by Joe Root before Willey dismissed Lendl Simmons for a duck and reduced the opponents to 11-3 after 2.3 overs. Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels brought things back on track with a steady partnership of 75 off 69 balls before Adil Rashid dismissed Bravo for 25. Andre Russell and Darren Sammy fell cheaply as the 2012 World T20 champions were left with 49 runs needed off 27 balls. In the meantime, Marlon Samuels reached his fifty and took his team closer to victory.
Samuels was backed by Carlos Brathwaite as the Windies needed 19 to win off the last over. Ben Stokes bowled the final over of the tournament and Brathwaite started it with a six over square-leg and followed it with a six over long-on, and another over long-off and won the World T20 for West Indies with a six over mid-wicket, his fourth six in as many balls.
#4 India vs West Indies, Florida
With a motive of promoting cricket in the USA, WICB and BCCI agreed to play two T20I matches at Lauderhill in Florida. The fans in the US had an excellent time when the legends of the game played three T20I matches across the country last year. This year, they had a chance to get a glimpse of modern day legends like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Dwayne Bravo.
World champions West Indies took on MS Dhoni’s India in two T20Is and the Indian fans will not forget the first match anytime soon. After choosing to field first, the Indian bowlers were smashed all over the ground as Windies openers Johnson Charles and Evin Lewis put on 126 for the first wicket before Charles departed for 79. Lewis went on to score a century and cameos from the likes of Andre Russell, Keiron Pollard and Carlos Brathwaite took them to a mammoth 245-6 in 20 overs. India were not only chasing the target of 246, but they were also in line to get into the history books by chasing down the highest total in any T20 match.
It was a tough task for MS Dhoni’s men as West Indies were filled with world class bowlers like Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree and Dwayne Bravo. Opener Rohit Sharma gave India a flying start but the Indians lost the crucial wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli inside the first five overs with the scorecard reading 48. It was when KL Rahul joined Rohit at the crease that the duo took the attack to the opposition.
They put on an 89-run partnership in just 7.1 overs before Pollard dismissed Rohit for 62. Rahul too charge and smashed the Windies bowlers all over the park and reached his maiden T20I ton off just 46 balls. In the other end, skipper Dhoni weaved his magic and put his team on the brink of victory. With just seven needed off the last over bowled by Bravo and Dhoni in the crease, it looked like a cakewalk for the Indians.
Samuels dropped a sitter off the very first ball to give a lifeline to India’s skipper. The Indians managed just five runs off the first five balls and with two needed off the last ball, Dhoni top-edged the ball straight to Samuels at third man and this time, the Jamaican made no mistake as he grabbed the ball and gave his team a narrow one-run win. Rahul was left stranded on 110 off just 51 balls.
#5 India vs Bangladesh, Bengaluru
After losing to New Zealand in the very first match of the World T20, India needed to win their next three games to progress to the semi-finals. India beat Pakistan convincingly and in their next league match, they faced their Asian rivals Bangladesh.
India were asked to bat in the must-win game and the top-order struggled to get the team off to a great start. Decent contributions from Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan helped India reach a par total of 146 in 20 overs.
R Ashwin struck early to dismiss Mohammad Mithun, but the Tigers were cruising towards a historic win. Indian bowled pulled things back in the last few overs and the equation was down to 11 runs needed off the last over to win with experienced batsmen Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim still at the crease.
Hardik Pandya bowled the last over and conceded a single followed by two boundaries inside the first three balls and brought the equation to 2 runs needed off three balls. Rahim hoisted the fourth delivery straight to Dhawan at deep mid-wicket and scalped Mahmudullah off the very next ball. With a billion hopes on his shoulder, Pandya bowled a short delivery outside the off stump and batsman, Shuvagata Hom failed to connect it and gets beaten and started to run for a bye to take the match into the super over.
Wicketkeeper Dhoni sans the glove in his right hand collected the ball and calmly ran to the stumps at the striker’s end and whipped the bails before the non-striker Mustafizur Rahman could make it to the crease. That run out gave India a 1-run win and kept them alive in the tournament.