The Super 12’s stage began with a nervy, low scoring clash between South Africa and Australia at Abu Dhabi in Group 1. Australia won the toss and opted to insert the Proteas and Finch was proven right, with Aiden Markram making the only contribution of note, 40 (36), to the South Africa innings.
Australia looked nervy in the chase having lost wickets regularly throughout; however, Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade finished well and saw them home with two balls to spare.
The hotly tipped West Indies disappointed in their opening fixture against England in Dubai, where they were skittled for 55 with Moeen Ali taking two early wickets to set back the Windies. Adil Rashid finished off the WI innings, taking 4-2, the joint cheapest four wicket haul in T20 internationals. England quickly knocked off the paltry total and ensured a high net run rate which could prove crucial later in the group stage.
One of the biggest rivalries in all of world sport! India were put into bat by, Pakistan captain, Babar Azam whilst Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled a breathtaking opening spell. His high pace, left arm swing proved difficult to handle for India opener Rohit Sharma who was dismissed for a golden duck.
Sharma then went on to castle India’s in form batter, KL Rahul. India never fully recovered throughout the innings and struggled to reach their total of 151/7 with captain Kohli adding 57 (49). Pakistan eased their way to victory without losing any wickets with both Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan continuing their excellent T20 form this year by each making unbeaten half-centuries.
Continuing their good form in their fixture against New Zealand, Pakistan restricted them to a meek 134/8, this time with Haris Rauf leading the attack and taking four wickets. They went on to chase down the total with eight balls to spare.
England also brushed aside a poor Bangladesh side, who never looked like putting the England team under pressure throughout the game. Bangladesh lost early wickets and never displayed the aggression needed to make enough runs to compete with the strong English batting line up. Moeen Ali once again took two in his opening spell for England, allowing England to cruise to the win, with almost six overs to spare with Jason Roy making a brutal 61 (38) to take all the pressure off his batting partners.
Then on Thursday, we saw a welcome return to form for Australia opening batter David Warner after his shocking IPL, where he averaged a lowly 24 with a timid strike rate of only 108. Sri Lanka made 154/6 off their twenty overs. Subsequently, the Australian opening partnership put the Sri Lankan bowlers under immediate pressure by cashing in on the power-play. Australia reached 63/0 and thus making the rest of the run chase a simple affair where they finished with three overs left.
Other results from the opening week saw Afghanistan pile on the runs against Scotland, making the highest total of the tournament so far. Scotland couldn’t handle the wily Afghan spinners and succumbed to being bowled out for 60 (with Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan taking 9/29 between them).
South Africa made light work of the West Indies where they knocked off their total of 143, only losing two wickets along the way. Sri Lanka also chased down the 171, set by Bangladesh, to earn themselves two important points. The two associate nations, Namibia and Scotland, met in Abu Dhabi and it was Namibia who came out on top, restricting Scotland to 109/8 and gingerly reaching the total in the final over.
A prominent early trend is that the chasing team have won all but one of the games at time of writing. Dew has been forming in the evening fixtures in the UAE, making bowling and fielding difficult later on in the games. The wet ball proves difficult for bowlers to grip properly and increases the likelihood of fielding errors. England and Pakistan have shown their credentials as potential winners early on, however India shouldn’t be written off just yet as their squad is full of huge names in T20 cricket.