Virat Kohli scored his record-breaking 50th ODI hundred and Shreyas Iyer scored his second successive one – off just 67 balls – to take India a giant leap towards burying New Zealand under a mountain of runs and reaching the final of the World Cup. Kohli and Iyer’s efforts came after Rohit set the stage up with a blazing start while Gill too was among the runs until the sweltering Mumbai heat got to him.
Rohit Sharma went about business as usual after winning the toss and opting to bat, as he hit over mid-wicket and through covers against Trent Boult in the first over. The left-armer got no swing and was forced to change his angle to round the stumps in just his second over after Rohit gave him the charge and smashed a six over extra cover. Rohit’s brutality stretched to Tim Southee too, as short balls received the treatment it usually does from the opener. In the fifth over, Rohit hit his third six of the innings – and 50th in World Cups, overtaking Chris Gayle’s tally of most sixes in the history of the showpiece event.
Kane Williamson had to turn to Mitchell Santner as early as the sixth over, who too was taken apart by Rohit as he audaciously moved to 45 off just 22. In the ninth over, Rohit tried to drill a big shot down the ground but didn’t get the timing right on a clever change of pace from Southee. Kane Williamson covered quite a lot of ground from mid off, paced backwards and completed an excellent catch to send his opposite number packing. Shubman Gill however, ensured India didn’t step off the gas as he treated Lockie Ferguson’s first three overs with disdain, dispatching all the short balls on either side of the square boundary. New Zealand’s four specialist bowlers ploy was under the pump after Ferguson was hit for runs and Rachin Ravindra also started off with a 10-run over in which Gill brought up his 41-ball 50. Even as Kohli began slowly, Gill kept the boundaries flowing, taking India to 150/1 in 20 overs.
Gill was primed for his first World Cup century, but cramps got the better of him in the Mumbai heat, as he needed the physio’s attention between overs for his left leg and back. In the 23rd over, he retired hurt on 79 off 65. Shreyas Iyer walked out and Williamson straightaway brought back Ferguson to test the No.4 batter with the short ball but Iyer navigated past it to lay into the spinners in the company of Kohli. In the 28th over, Kohli brought up his eighth hundred of the World Cup – the most in a single edition, going past Sachin Tendulkar and Shakib Al Hasan’s tally.
Williamson’s effort to put a lid on the easy flow of runs by bringing back Boult and Southee was met with resistance as Kohli used his feet against both to get a four and a six respectively. Iyer meanwhile, saw through Southee’s ruse of repeatedly using the slower ball and clobbered him for a six over midwicket. After getting 84 runs in the first 10 overs, India consolidated well with 66 and 64 in the next two sets of 10, but Iyer and Kohli found a way to nudge it even further with 73 in the next 10. From 287/1 in 40 overs, India were set for a big finish. Before that came about, Kohli got to his milestone century, which cued some emotional celebrations from India’s No.3 batter. Iyer meanwhile showed off his spin-hitting prowess as he went after Ravindra, who conceded 60 off 7 overs. Even the pacers struggled to keep Iyer in check as he flew to a 67-ball century in the 48th over.
India hit 110 in the last 10 overs with even New Zealand’s seasoned bowlers going for plenty of runs. Boult went for 86 in his 10 overs while Southee leaked 100 as his plan to take pace off didn’t yield the desired results beyond Rohit’s wicket. Ferguson bowled only 8 for his 65 while the part-time spin pair of Glenn Phillips and Rachin Ravindra went for 93 in 12 overs combined.
India 397/4 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 47, Virat Kohli 117, Shreyas Iyer 105, Shubman Gill 80*, K L Rahul 39*; Tim Southee 3-100) vs New Zealand
Afghanistan sneak consolation win in high-scoring thriller
Fireworks from Rahmanullah Gurbaz (70 off 43) and Hazratullah Zazai (45 off 22) led Afghanistan to a big total that eventually proved just enough for a three run win against Sri Lanka in the final T20I in Dambulla on Wednesday (February 21). Pathum Nissanka (60 off 30) and Kamindu Mendis (65* off 39) fought hard for the hosts but they fell agonisingly short of the target in a pulsating finish.
On what was easily the best batting surface of the series, Afghanistan opted to bat and were given the perfect start by their openers. Gurbaz was the initial aggressor as he found his mojo from the get-go. Zazai took a bit of time before exploding into his own set of powerful strokes. The duo plundered 72 off the powerplay and it put Sri Lanka firmly on the back foot.
With Gurbaz and Zazai going great guns, Sri Lanka needed a breakthrough to stem the momentum. Akila Dananjaya did just that by getting the left-hander LBW. It started a passage of play where the scoring rate dipped a bit. Sri Lankan captain Wanindu Hasaranga produced the big breakthrough of Gurbaz while Dananjaya took out Zadran to inflict a slowdown to the innings.
Afghanistan looked set for a score in excess of 200 when their openers were firing but the middle overs slowdown threatened to end their score on a much lower level. However, Azmatullah Omarzai (31 off 23) produced a few big hits and young Mohammad Ishaq struck a few blows in the final over to take the score well past the 200-run mark. Sri Lanka were guilty of bowling a few freebies at the death, notably Matheesha Pathirana who sprayed the ball to gift too many wides.
In-form Nissanka got going, like he had all through the ODIs and T20Is, to give Sri Lanka the perfect tempo to the chase. Kusal Mendis was scratchy in his stay and played second fiddle to Nissanka who went hammer and tongs in the powerplay which yielded 64 for the hosts. Mendis fell at the fag end of that phase while Kusal Perera perished for a duck shortly thereafter. Nissanka, though, kept playing his shots and looked in ominous touch. Afghanistan suffered a blow with Sharafuddin Ashraf injuring himself while taking the catch of Mendis. Qais Ahmad came in as the concussion sub.
Moments after playing a slog-sweep for six, Nissanka clutched his hamstring in pain and was forced to retire hurt. With the series already sealed and a World Cup in few months time, it was the wise call. But in the context of this game, it was a huge blow for Sri Lanka and it gave Afghanistan the opportunity to put on a squeeze. They not only managed to do so but also picked up wickets including the big one of Hasaranga.
Afghanistan thought they could run away with the game but Kamindu and Samarawickrama got stuck into the bowling, using the batting-friendly pitch to their advantage. The required rate continued to be steep and although Samarawickrama fell to the pressure of the chase, Kamindu didn’t back off. He saw senior players in Angelo Mathews and Dasun Shanaka (who did hit a couple of handy blows) perish but kept going, almost single handedly keeping Sri Lanka in the game.
It came down to the final over with Sri Lanka needing 19 for a win against Wafadar Momand. Kamindu found the fence off the first and third ball with a dot in between, to get the equation to 11 needed off 3. This is when Wafadar bowled a beamer of sorts, clearly a waist-high no ball except that the two on-field umps didn’t think so. Kamindu had stepped out slightly but it still seemed a clear no-ball. Eventually, that proved massive to the eventual result, with Kamindu hitting the final ball for six – a shot that didn’t matter as Sri Lanka fell just short.
Afghanistan 209/5 in 20 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 70, Hazratullah Zazai 45, Azmatullah Omarazi 31; Matheesha Pathirana 2-42, Wanidu Haaranga 1-35, Akila Dananjaya 2-37) beat Sri Lanka 206/6 in 20 overs (Kamindu Mendis 65*, Sadeera Samarawickrema 23, Pathum Nissanka 60*; Fareed Ahmad 1-30, Noor Ahmad 1-37, Quais Ahmad 1-17, Mohammad Nabi 2-35) by three runs.
“Operation ‘Yukthiya’ will persist despite pressure” – Minister of Public Security
Minister of Public Security, Mr. Tiran Alles, attending a news conference held at the Presidential Media Centre today (21) under the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’.emphasized his unwavering commitment to continue operations aimed at suppressing drugs, tackling the underworld and preventing violence against women and children, regardless of any pressure encountered.
Furthermore, Minister Alles disclosed that operation ‘Yukthiya’, which commenced on December 17, has resulted in the seizure of narcotics valued at Rs. 7.8 billion and assets including vehicles and buildings confiscated by law enforcement amount to Rs. 725 million. . A total of 58,562 raids have been conducted, leading to the arrest of 58,234 individuals involved in illicit activities.
Marsh, David leave New Zealand bruised in Australia’s thrilling last-ball win
Australia captain Mitchell Marsh produced a powerful all-round performance before Tim David batted superbly at the death to complete a last-ball win over New Zealand in a high-scoring series opener in Wellington.
Chasing 216 after Devon Conway emerged from a form slump with a half-century, Australia appeared on the brink of defeat despite Marsh’s effort. But David took over with 31 off 10 balls punctuated by a boundary through the leg-side off Tim Southee to seal Australia’s remarkable heist.
Australia drew first blood in the fight for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, which had previously only been awarded to the winner of bilateral ODI series between the teams. With the T20 World Cup just over three months away, the three-match series is vital preparation for both teams.
There was no room for Steven Smith in Australia’s batting order, with Travis Head returning after missing the West Indies series. He opened alongside David Warner for the first time in T20Is. But neither could capitalise on starts. Warner was booed off the ground by the partisan crowd and responded by giving them a wave.
It was left to Marsh, who obliged with typically belligerent batting. Anything in his hitting zone was handled with disdain as he motored to his half-century off 29 balls. But Marsh lacked support as Australia fell away and needed a seemingly improbable 32 runs off nine balls to win. But David took over with a boundary off Adam Milne before launching consecutive sixes to reduce Australia’s target to 16 runs off the final over.
Southee bowled well at the start of the final over by bowling a few yorkers, but David again showed his prowess at finishing with a six over the leg-side off the full-tossed fourth delivery of the 20th over. Two balls later, his swat through wide long on with two fielders converging went for four, and underlined a remarkable chase that showcased their firepower. It also illustrated that there may not be room for Smith at the T20 World Cup.
Milne and Lockie Ferguson were only playing their 10th T20I together. They menaced with prodigious swing at rapid pace with Ferguson reaching speeds of 150 kmph.
Milne claimed the much-needed first wicket after a flier from Head, while Ferguson chimed in by getting through Glenn Maxwell to halt Australia’s momentum.
Ferguson was superb throughout and bowled accurate yorkers under pressure in a brilliant 18th over that appeared to put New Zealand in the box seat. But New Zealand ultimately rued sloppy fielding, most notably Glenn Phillips missing a chance on the boundary when Marsh was on 36.
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, who had both rested for the past three weeks since the Test summer ended, played their first T20I since the 2022 T20 World Cup as Australia unveiled a full-strength attack.
Starc was on the money immediately as he angled a delivery past Finn Allen on the first delivery of an excellent first over. He returned in the sixth over to pick up Allen having not let him have any width to hit.
Starc was the pick of the bowlers until he was thrashed for 16 runs in the penultimate over of the innings. Cummins had also mostly defied the onslaught with his canny array of slower deliveries before being dispatched for 15 runs in the last over.
After recording the worst-ever figures by an Australian bowler in T20Is in their last match against West Indies, legspinner Adam Zampa copped another flogging with 0 for 42 from three overs. Australia, who sloppily conceded 15 extras, became the first team ever to concede four straight 200-plus totals in T20I cricket.
In better news for Australia, Marsh utilised slower deliveries effectively and claimed the wicket of Conway to finish with 1 for 21 off three. Marsh didn’t use himself against West Indies but stepped up here with Marcus Stoinis missing from the series.
Conway entered the series finding himself in his career’s first prolonged form slump. Conway got out of it by perhaps channelling the last time he batted against Australia in a T20 match when he made an unbeaten 92 to launch the 2022 T20 World Cup.
It was deja vu with Conway and Allen again monstering a half-century inside four overs just like they did at the SCG. Conway relished a surface that was fast with a consistent bounce to notch his first international half-century since last year’s ODI World Cup. His knock was marked by superb back-foot play as he continually whacked shorter deliveries in a confidence-boosting innings.
After Allen fell just before the end of the powerplay, Conway combined with Rachin Ravindra, who was sluggish early and was halted initially by Cummins’ nagging line and length. But Ravindra eventually found his groove and pummelled Zampa for a trio of sixes in the 15th over.
Ravindra raced to his second T20I half-century off just 29 balls to make the most of his opportunity with skipper Kane Williamson not playing due to the birth of his third child. The top-order batting, plus the finishing touches by Phillips and Mark Chapman, meant big-hitting debutant Josh Clarkson was not required.
Australia 216 for 4 in 20 overs (Travis Head 24, Mitchell Marsh 72*, David Warner 32, Glenn Maxwell 25, Josh Inglis 20, Tim David 31*; Adam Milne 1-53, Lockie Furgeson 1-23, Mitchell Santner 2-42) beat New Zealand 215 for 3 in 20 overs (Finn Allen 32, Rachin Ravindra 68, Devon Conway 63,Glenn Phillips 19*, Mark Chapman 18*; Mitchell Starc 1-39, Pat Cummins 1-43, Mitchell Marsh 1-21) by six wickets
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