Cricket World Cup T20: Harbhajan Shines As India Crush England!
|Harbhajan Singh The Player of the Match|
It was India’s biggest win in terms of margin of runs in any T20 history. It was England’s lowest total ever in T20 history. It could be the T20 international of the century in terms of the most dramatic turnaround with spinners dominating absolutely. It gave Harbhajan Singh a most memorable comeback to Team India. The off spinner had an incredible figure of 4 wickets for just 12 runs with 17 dot balls in 4 overs. With his partner spinner, another comeback guy, Piyush Chawla the duo captured 6 England wickets for 25 runs. Thanks to them England crashed from 39/2 to 60/9, looking at achieving the ignominy of being the team scoring less than the lowest ever total of 67 by Kenya in T20 history. The last England pair saved that humiliation at least by taking the score to 80.
India crushed England by 90 runs in their last group encounter in Colombo on 23rd September, 2012. Indian skipper Dhoni seemed to have done everything right on this day. He ‘rested’ his supposed best players—Zaheer, Sehwag and Ashwin, and inducted two spinners in Harbhajan and Chawla with 6 batsmen to 5 specialized bowlers formula. He asked Irfan Pathan to open with Gautam Gambhir and promoted Rohit Sharma ahead of Yuvraj and Raina. Irfan could not deliver with the bat, but all other decisions vindicated Dhoni.
England won the toss and skipper Stuart Broad, perhaps taking the cue from the Indian Test cricket disaster in his country in 2011, put India in to unsettle them with short and bouncing stuff. Broad also opted for three fast bowlers and just one spinner. Maybe he failed to read the slower than anticipated pitch better than Dhoni.
Gambhir romped back into form with a well made 45 and Virat Kohli put in another classic act of 40 runs playing exquisite shots all around the park. The duo gave the team a momentum to build a total in excess of 180. But things slowed down midway with English spinner Graeme Swann bowling a tight spell. Rohit Sharma and Dhoni finally plundered 51 runs from the last four overs to take India to a sound 170/4.
Have India scored a good enough total? The debate was just picking up all around when Irfan Pathan struck in the last ball of his very first over bowling out English opener Hales for a duck. He struck again in the fourth ball of his second over getting the other opener Wright leg before. With two expensive overs by Balaji and Dinda in between the spinner duo of Harbhajan and Chawla came in when the Powerplay was still on, and England wickets started tumbling in heaps as if under a spell. The most fantastic spin bowling in a T20 International was witnessed thus as the balls started to turn appreciably. It was all over with more than five overs to spare. The Scorecard:
The encounter was technically inconsequential as both teams had already qualified for the Super Eight stage. This gave Dhoni a scope to experiment and get his best team ready to fire on the next stage. With Irfan Pathan not quite doing well as an opener Virender Sehwag, a match winner on his day, is most likely to come back, but Dhoni is set to have a most difficult time choosing from Harbhajan, Chawla and Ashwin even if he sticks to two spinners. And then the pacers, all of whom except Pathan were largely ineffectual. The choice of one or two pacers to partner Pathan would need a lot of thinking. As India have topped the group they stay in Colombo for the Super Eight games and the conditions experienced in this game are likely to favor the team.
Earlier, in a cracker of a match Pakistan defeated a fighting New Zealand by 13 runs in Pallekele thanks to a splendid all-round performance by Mohammad Hafeez and a superlative knock of 56 runs by Nasir Jamshed. The cricket lovers had their money’s worth as New Zealand fought to their last breath. Both of these teams have qualified for the Super Eight too.
Not much action till the Super Eight starts from September 27. The big one for Indian cricket lovers is coming on 28th September in Colombo at 7.30pm when India meet Australia. The Schedule: