by Jigar Mehta Apr 2, 2014 11:45 IST
After a fierce battle in the group stages, India, West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa have made it to the World T20 semi-finals. It's been a thrilling tournament so far and the group stages provided some breathtaking moments. Here are the top five moments of the group stage.
1)Last over Steyn heroics: We've seen batsmen wallop over 20 runs in the last over on consistent basis to win a T20 match but to defend less than 10 runs in the final over is an achievement in itself. There is one bowler who is not short on cricketing achievements and against New Zealand Dale Steyn just showed why he is one of the best bowlers in all the three formats. In a fiery spell of fast bowling, the champion bowler defended seven runs off the last over to help South Africa steal victory from the hands of defeat. He started off by scalping Luke Ronchi (caught behind) with an away swinger, followed it up with two dot balls to Nathan McCullum. But the Kiwi responded with a boundary off the fourth ball. With three runs needed off last two balls, the pacer removed McCullum. A splendid fast full delivery, outside the off-stump made sure that a set Ross Taylor had no option but jam the last ball back to Steyn. The fast bowler ran to the non-striker's stumps and hammered the led-stumps before setting off in wild celebrations. Five dot balls in the final over was just staggering.
2) Sammy answers Faulkner in style: It's hard to imagine the top five moments without a West Indian featuring in it. The Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur witnessed a special moment as Darren Sammy hit two consecutive sixes with 12 needed to win off the last over and set off in wild celebrations. Chasing a daunting target of 179, West Indies were in a spot of bother when Sammy strode out to the crease. With the men from the Caribbean needing 49 off 21 balls, Sammy blasted 34 off 13 balls to pull off their highest successful run chase in T20Is. Earlier, Australia's James Faulkner had fired up the Windies saying that he didn't particularly like West Indies. Sammy replied in great style as he blasted consecutive sixes off Faulkner to score 12 runs needed off the final over.
3) Hales-storm blows away Sri Lanka: It's not often that batsmen hit centuries in T20Is. Alex Hales was the number one T20I player for a long time and he just proved why he was special in this format as he played one of the best innings in T20I history. Hales simply went berserk to help England chase down 190, their highest ever successful run chase in T20Is. What made the innings more special was the fact that England were reeling at 0/2 after losing Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali in the first over and Hales batted through and finished the match in style with a thunderous six. Hales just murdered the Sri Lankan spinners during the course of his 116* (64 balls, 11 fours, 6 sixes) to single-handedly win the match for England.
4) Netherlands beat England: Whenever a weak team defeats a strong one, there is a sense of joy that every cricket fan experiences. Netherlands provided one of those moments in the World T20 as they shocked England in their last match in the tournament. The Dutch team had a roller-coaster ride in the tournament. Earlier in the qualifiers, they had pulled off a miracle chase against Ireland chasing down 190 inside 14 overs to qualify for the group stages. But in their first group stage game, they were humiliated by Sri Lanka as they were bowled out for 39. However, they bounced back well to give South Africa a scare before making sure that they signed off with pride... beating England by a big margin of 45 runs, defending a meager total of 133.
5) Herath's magical 5/3 Kiwi killer: In their last do-or-die group match, when Sri Lanka were bundled out for just 119, it looked as if their blistering run of qualifying for the semis of the ICC events would be over. But Rangana Herath proved to be their saviour as he bowled one of the best spells in the history of T20Is. He ripped through the New Zealand top and middle order with consummate ease, bundling them out for just 60. His 5/3 set the record for the most economical spell in T20Is and helped Sri Lanka qualify for the semi-final of an ICC event for the 6th successive time. The wily left-arm spinner hadn't played a T20I since October 2012 and he proved the selectors wrong, showing why he was Sri Lanka's best spinner in all the three formats.
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