The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup has come to an end last Sunday with the Aussies claiming their first-ever Men’s title in the shortest format of the game.
This seventh edition of the T20 World Cup was initially supposed to be hosted by India. However, due to the pandemic, the BCCI and the ICC decided to shift the location to the UAE and Oman as, for the first time in history, the associate nations have got the opportunity to host an ICC World Cup.
Despite this shift in location, the BCCI remained the organiser of this event.
The World Cup started back on October 17 with Round One comprising eight teams – Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and six associate nations, fighting it out for four available slots in the Super 12.
Considering their cricketing prowess, two test playing nations-- Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, were supposed to be the champions in their respective groups. Along with them, Scotland and Ireland were the favourites to grab the other slots.
However, Round One was far from adhering to such predictabilities. Scotland caused an upset over Bangladesh on the opening day of the World Cup.
As a result, Scotland ended up winning Group B as Bangladesh had to be satisfied with the runner-up slot.
On the other hand, Group A was even more interesting. Although Sri Lanka won all their games and led that group, Namibia – on their first-ever appearance on a T20 World Cup, got the better of both Ireland and Netherlands to claim a spot in the Super 12.
Following that excitement and predictions going wrong, Super 12 was expected to come up with a lot more drama and it started in exactly that fashion.
On the opening day of Super 12, England bamboozled the defending champion West Indies by knocking them over at only 55 runs.
On the following day, Pakistan defeated India by a staggering 10-wicket margin, marking their first-ever victory over India in any ICC event.
Both these losing sides – West Indies and India – lost their following game against South Africa and New Zealand respectively, which pushed them on the verge of elimination from the World Cup. However, as time progressed, such unprecedented outcomes started to die down as the favourites won most, if not all, of the games.
The exit of India and West Indies has undoubtedly been the biggest surprise in this year’s World Cup.
With teams such as Australia, England, South Africa in the same group, the task in hand for West Indies was always going to be a challenging one going forward. However, the way they capitulated throughout the event with only one win out of five games, that too against Bangladesh in a last-ball finish, was least expected.
India, on the other hand, was a very safe bet for the fans considering their track record against Pakistan and the absence of any other potent challenge except New Zealand as defeating any one of those nations would have sealed them a place in the Knock-Out stage.
Bangladesh, once again, had another T20 World Cup to forget with a loss against Scotland in Round One and two below hundred scores against South Africa and Australia in Super 12.
Ultimately, Bangladesh ended up registering the highest number of losses (6) in this seventh edition of the World Cup.
Unarguably, the upsets caused by the associate nations are instrumental in bringing a lot of charm to any global event. Despite Scotland and Namibia causing a few of those in Round One, the World Cup has missed such upsets in the round of Super 12 as neither of these associate nations managed to get over the line against any Test Playing Nations.
Even Afghanistan, who are considered to be a considerable threat in this format of the game-- given the number of their players playing in major global franchise leagues including IPL, Big Bash, CPL, and so on, were not capable enough to take the better off any stronger opposition.
South Africa, yet again, were the victim of the cruel reality of near-miss. Despite winning four games out of five in Super 12, they could not seal a spot for themselves in the semis as England and Australia, although both had eight points, had better Net Run Rates (NRR).
South Africa must have felt in hindsight that they should have pushed a lot harder against Bangladesh where they used up thirteen and a half over while chasing only 85 runs, which could well have boosted their NRR to a qualifiable level.
Namibia definitely had a tournament to remember. At the outset, everyone considered them to be the least likely team to qualify from Group A to Super 12. On top of that, a loss to Sri Lanka in their opening fixture did not help their cause either.
But since then, Namibia just brought their A-game into the middle. They defeated Netherlands and Ireland in back-to-back virtual knockouts as they clawed their way through to Super 12.
And if anyone thought that their fairy tale ended there, Namibia just proved them wrong. Defeating Scotland in Super 12, Namibia registered their first-ever victory in the main round of a T20 World Cup, a feat that even Bangladesh are yet to achieve so far.
England and Pakistan were the teams to beat in Super 12 and therefore, most people expected them to feature in the Grand Finale. But to everyone’s surprise, both these sides lost the semis as New Zealand and Australia defeated the respective sides in the last four over carnages.
And the Finale registered another heartbreak in a white-ball tournament final for New Zealand as Australia held their steel-strong nerves to prove why they are the best when it comes to playing the finals and winning ICC Trophies.
This tournament, interestingly, has been exceedingly in favour of the teams batting second.
In the 45 games that have been playing in this tournament, 29 of those have been won while chasing. In fact, all the three knockout fixtures, the two semifinals and the final have been won by the teams batting second.
Therefore, the virtue of winning the toss has played an unlikely major role throughout the tournament.
All in all, that marks the end of another successful edition of action-packed T20 cricket as the cricket fans can eye on the eighth edition coming from Australia in less than a year. Till then, it’s a goodbye for ICC events.
The writer is currently studying at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka (IBA-DU).