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Top 10 ICC T20 World Cup Performances

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T20 cricket is fast and unforgiving of even the slightest mishaps. When Misbah ul Haq played the ill-fated scoop shot at Johannesburg in 2007, little did he know what was to unfold. The World T20 had truly arrived, and another trophy was added to the ICC cabinet.

With the sixth edition of the enthralling event upon us, let us revisit the most memorable performances in the tournament so far.

Author’s Note: This list is subjective.

Dale_Steyn_South_Africa_Cricket10. Dale Steyn: 4-17 against New Zealand, Chittagong (2014)

South Africa had come into the match after a narrow defeat against Sri Lanka in their opening fixture. Their batting lineup boasted dynamic players such as AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, but there were still question as to whether the bowlers could defend 170 against the rampant Kiwis.

Williamson's enterprising innings was ended by Steyn, offering the Proteas a glimmer of hope. His best was yet to come. In a vicious spell, he pulled the rug from under New Zealand's feet in the death overs. With just 6 runs to defend, the gun-slinger's accuracy proved too much to handle for Ross Taylor and company as South Africa completed a stunning turnaround.

 

Kevin_Pietersen_England_cricket9. Kevin Pietersen: 53 off 33 against South Africa, Barbados (2010)

England's surprising spike in T20 cricket went unnoticed until Kevin Pietersen started to pulverize bowling attacks consistently. Their earlier victory against Pakistan was backed up by another solid showing against the Proteas on a tricky surface.

When Pietersen arrived at the crease, his team needed to be patched up. The maverick batsman unleashed a wide array of strokes to unsettle his country of birth. The most outrageous of them all was the famous 'flamingo' whip which left even Steyn befuddled. The pacer went for 50 runs from his quota as England gained momentum.

 

Mahela_Jayawardene_Sri Lanka_cricket8. Mahela Jayawardene: 42 off 36 against Pakistan, Colombo (2012)

Mahela's record outside the sub-continent might not be particularly formidable, but against the turning ball, there are very few batsmen who could claim to be better than the Sri Lankan maestro.

His ability to read the situation came to the fore on a treacherous pitch in the semi-finals. Acknowledging that a score of around 140 would suffice, Jayawardene brought out his A-game against the varied spin combo of Ajmal, Afridi, Hafeez and Raza Hasan. Even though they went on to lose the final, he had embodied the Lankan attitude of fighting against all odds.

 

Shahid_Afridi_Pakistan_cricket7. Shahid Afridi: 51 off 34 and 2-16 against South Africa, Nottingham (2009)

Pakistan were plagued by inconsistency throughout the tournament. This was the knockout stage, which meant that no more slipups were allowed. The state of affairs demanded a flamboyant personality like Shahid Afridi to throw down the gauntlet early on.

When Kamran Akmal fell after a sparkling cameo, the onus was on the middle-order to negotiate the South African seamers. Afridi did not curb his natural instincts and took Pakistan to a position of strength. He returned with the ball to snaffle Gibbs and de Villiers, paving the way to the finals of a triumphant campaign.

 

Gautam_Gambhir_India_cricket.jpg6. Gautam Gambhir: 75 off 54 against Pakistan, Johannesburg (2007)

The atmosphere was as tense in the 'Bull Ring' as you would expect. India and Pakistan were to add another chapter to their storied rivalry. It was the final match of the inaugural World T20. The occasion cried out for new heroes to emerge.

Despite having a stop-start international career until then, Gautam Gambhir's temperament was unflappable as he anchored the innings with resounding authority. Even though wickets were falling at the other end, Gambhir was undeterred. His immense contributions in the both the final matches of the World Cups which India won (T20 – 2007, ODI – 2011) reveal his ability to excel under pressure.

 

Umar_Gul_Pakistan_cricket5. Umar Gul: 5-6 against New Zealand, The Oval (2009)

There are many who would consider Shahid Afridi the sole reason behind Pakistan's victorious run in the 2009 World T20. However, there was one man who revived their flagging prospects in a must-win match with a spell reminiscent of his country's rich history of pacers.

When Umar Gul came on for his first ball, the Kiwis were at 72/4 with 101 to win, and looked set for a place in the semi finals. Landing one yorker after another, Gul tore the lower-middle order out with dangerous reverse-swing. He picked up the first ever 5-fer in a T20I and sealed the match for Pakistan as New Zealand were routed for 99.

 

 

 

Michael_Hussey_Australia_cricket4. Michael Hussey: 60* off 34 against Pakistan, St Lucia (2010)

On a sluggish surface, Pakistan had surprisingly prospered with the bat to post a daunting 191. A place in the final beckoned, and the defending champions contained multiple threats in their bowling arsenal, including Mohammad Amir, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal.

Australia, who had been unbeaten in the tournament thus far, were truly up against it when they needed 70 from the last five overs. However, Mike Hussey remained unperturbed and smashed Afridi for consecutive sixes to enliven the contest. After bringing down the equation to 18 off 6 balls, he smashed Ajmal for 6,6,4,6 and stunned Pakistan and everyone watching.

 

Yuvraj_Singh_cricket_India.jpg3. Yuvraj Singh: 58 off 16 against England, Durban (2007)

If the inaugural T20 World Cup was opened by Chris Gayle, you could say that Yuvraj Singh finished it. India had entered into Durban knowing that a loss here meant curtains for them at the super 8 stage itself. The Men in Blue had sauntered to 155 off the first 100 balls and were in need of end overs acceleration when the stylish left-hander walked in.

What then occurred can never be encapsulated in words, as he thundered his way to become the defining image of the event. Almost nonchalantly, Yuvraj dispatched Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over and brought up the fastest ever T20 fifty in just 12 balls. Needless to say, cricket aficionados still live in awe of that knock.

 

Marlon_Samuels_West_Indies_cricket2. Marlon Samuels: 78 off 56 against Sri Lanka, Colombo (2012)

In what is surely one of the most iconic performances in the finals of any world event, Marlon Samuels single-handedly carried West Indies to a defendable total, scoring more than half of the team’s runs when the cricket pitch was a minefield and spitting like a venomous snake at the batsmen.

While wickets fell constantly at the other end, Samuels was confidence personified as he tackled the menacing Sri Lankan spinners on their own turf. With the tenacity of a boxer, he shrugged off an indifferent start at 20 off 32 balls to finish with a bang. The enigmatic batsman helped West Indies score a staggering 105 runs from the last 10 overs and they never looked back, winning the trophy by 36 runs.

 

Rangana_Herath_Sri_Lanka_cricket.jpg1. Rangana Herath: 5-3 against New Zealand, Chittagong (2014)

In a format tailor-made for batsmen, it is no wonder that the crowning performance has to come from a slow bowler. Until then, Sri Lanka were the perennial bridesmaids of World T20, making it to the finals twice, but somehow failing to lift the trophy.

The winner of this, the final match of Group 1, would move on and qualify for the semi finals along with South Africa. They were in danger of being eliminated from the competition when New Zealand dismissed them for only 119. Rangana Herath summoned all his guile and obliterated the Kiwi batting lineup with astonishing returns of 3.3-2-3-5. McCullum's men were shot out for 60 as Sri Lanka gathered steam towards the business end of the event, going on to finally win the tournament for the first time.



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Ram Kumar is passionate about all sports, especially cricket. His favorite cricketers include Rahul...

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