England became the first team to be crowned the World Champions of both the One Day and T20 International Cricket simultaneously.

Last week, it defeated a spirited Pakistan cricket team by five runs in the final of the T20 World Cup, in Melbourne, Australia, lifting the trophy for the second time in history. Since they defeated New Zealand in the final of the 50-over World Cup in 2019, they are the first and so far, the only team to be champions of both the limited-over formats.

Big totals, huge sixes, close finishes and wickets tumbling made the mega event held in Australia a memorable one. Although rain was supposed to wreak havoc during the tournament, only three matches were abandoned due to rain, and one was badly affected. Two-time champions, the West Indies were unable to qualify for the main round of the tournament, whereas a defeat to the Netherlands stopped South Africa from reaching the semi-final stage.

The tournament was divided into two parts — the qualifying round and the Super 8. Four teams from the first round joined the top eight teams in the world to battle it out in two groups for a place in the semi-final. Although Pakistan and England reached the grand finale due to impressive performances in the Super 12, the eventual winners England were defeated by Ireland through the Duckworth Lewis method, while Zimbabwe managed to defeat Pakistan by one run in the Super 12 stage.

Cricket fans might blame the Pakistan batting lineup for their lackluster performance throughout the event, but they all agreed that the pace attack was amongst the best in the world. Despite losing their first two matches to arch-rivals India, and then Zimbabwe, it was the bowlers who helped Pakistan reach the knockout stage by taking wickets when it mattered the most.

Had England not reached the final of the mega event, Pakistan might have lifted the Cup for the first time since 2009, and for the second time in total. It can also be argued that had Shaheen Afridi not become injured after taking just one wicket, we would have lifted the Cup.

However, the eventual champions were in excellent form throughout the event, and while all their bowlers took wickets, the bulk of the scoring was done by their opening batsmen, who steered their side into the final with a ten-wicket win over India in the semi-final.

As for the best performers, India’s premier batter Virat Kohli emerged as the leading run-scorer of the tournament with the help of four half-centuries. He scored 296 runs in six matches at an average of 98.66, and his highest score was an unbeaten 82 against Pakistan. He missed a hundred this time around, but two players managed to succeed where Kohli failed. South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw and New Zealand’s Glenn Philips crossed the 100-run mark during the tournament, with Rossouw doing so against Bangladesh, while Philips managed to go past the three figures against Sri Lanka.

England’s left-arm pacer Sam Curran was a revelation during the series and was adjudged the Player of the Final as well as the Player of the Tournament for his 13 wickets. He was the only bowler to dismiss five batters in an innings during the World Cup, and although he fell two wickets short of Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga, he played fewer matches for his eventual tally.

Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan managed to get 11 wickets apiece after playing seven matches in the tournament. Even though Shaheen Afridi was coming back from a break, he ended up taking four wickets in the must-win match against Bangladesh, a feat only achieved by Muhammad Wasim Junior from the Pakistan side.

England’s Captain Jos Buttler might not have ended the event as the highest run scorer, but he emerged as the best wicket-keeper of the tournament, managing as many as nine victims behind the stumps. Netherlands’ Scott Edwards also dismissed nine batsmen, but he had played eight matches compared to Buttler’s six.

Pakistan’s Muhammad Rizwan and India’s Dinesh Karthik managed four victims, while Rizwan kept wickets in seven matches, Karthik did so in four.

As far as sixes are concerned, Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza edged out England’s Alex Hales and Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis to the top. The Pakistan-born Sikandar hit as many as 11 sixes, compared to 10 by Hales and Mendis. Muhammad Haris and Iftikhar Ahmed, with six sixes, were the best from Pakistan who might have not been at their best, but proved their mettle by reaching the grand finale. What if they couldn’t win the trophy this time, they will have all the chances in the world when the T20 World Cup would be played in the West Indies in June 2024.

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 19th, 2022

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