After 12 days of cricketing action, the ICC T20 World Cup has reached the knockout stage. Despite some expected results, teams like Sri Lanka pushed for an appearance at the knockout stage and New Zealand crashed early in the tournament. England and Australia topped their respective groups, while hosts South Africa took a long route to feature in their first-ever home World Cup semi-final.
We take a look at the five things from the group stage of the T20 World Cup that got us talking…
Sri Lanka upsets the hosts’ opening party
The T20 World Cup started with an unexpected result as Sri Lanka defeated the hosts South Africa by three runs. Captain Chamari Athapaththu played a crucial knock of 68 in the first innings and her partnership of 86 runs with Vishmi Gunarathne took Sri Lanka to 129. In the chase, a bowling masterclass from Inoka Ranaweera stopped South Africa short of the target.
In what was already a very tough group, with defending champions Australia also in it, along with New Zealand and Bangladesh, Sri Lanka made things even more interesting. In the next game, Harshitha Madavi and Nilakshi de Silva helped chase down Bangladesh’s total of 126 after initial jitters to continue their perfect start to the tournament. Sri Lanka could not replicate the same success against Australia and Sri Lanka, but they showcased what they can achieve.
Athapaththu’s team, despite not getting enough opportunity to represent their country, made the most of their stay in the T20 World Cup.
England: Still a force to reckon with
The English team had a mixed year in 2022 which started in Australia. They failed to win a single game in the multi-format Ashes series. In the ICC ODI World Cup that followed, Heather Knight's team started their campaign with three back-to-back losses but somehow managed to reach the finals, where they lost to Australia. Despite being the home team at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England could not manage the podium finish, in the absence of regular captain Knight, who missed the event due to a hip injury.
In the home series against India in September, their vice-captain Natalie Sciver-Brunt too withdrew to take a mental health break. After bagging the T20I series, the depleted England side was blanked 0-3 by the visitors in the ODI leg.
All was not lost for England in 2022 as the new head coach Jon Lewis take over from Lisa Keightley in November. Since Lewis' takeover, England are yet to lose a T20I match. The unbeaten series against West Indies, where Knight's side won the three ODIs and five T20Is was just the reassurance of their dominance in the format.
Once again in this World Cup, the team has reminded everyone of the class they possess. England finished on the top of their group without losing a single game. But it is not just the results, but the convincing manner in which those wins came that tells that the former World Champions are well and truly back after a difficult season. England registered the tournament's highest-ever team total (213/5) in their final game against Pakistan while cruising to yet another knockout appearance.
Australia are getting stronger with each game, each series, and each tournament
The five-time T20 World Champions are on a hunt for another title in South Africa. After routing New Zealand by 97 runs in the first match, they secured comfortable wins over Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and South Africa to top their group.
Alyssa Healy’s return to cricket from the hamstring injury she sustained in December has been a big boost for Australia. Healy scored two half-centuries in the first three games before sitting out of the final one due to a niggle.
Another big positive Australia would take is that despite Beth Mooney getting a big score only once in the four games, they never found themselves in a panic situation. Mooney has been the most consistent run scorer for Australia over the last few years. Not losing control of games without a contribution from her is an indication of the strength of Australia’s depth.
Australia's bowling unit may not steal the headlines, but they have been consistent throughout the tournament with Megan Schutt leading the chart with eight wickets in the tournament alongside England's Sophie Ecclestone.
Not much success, but plenty of positives for Bangladesh and Ireland
The two teams that made it to the T20 World Cup via the qualifiers are also the two teams that could not manage to win a match in the tournament – Bangladesh and Ireland. But there are plenty of positives to take for both of the teams for the future.
In their first game, Bangladesh put Sri Lanka into some trouble early on in the second innings by picking three quick wickets, including the big one of Chamari Athapaththu. All three wickets were picked by the 18-year-old Marufa Akter. After impressing in the U19 World Cup, the young pacer was now turning heads at the senior stage.
If Bangladesh had Akter, Ireland had Orla Prendergast. The fast-bowling allrounder played a big role in Ireland’s series win in Pakistan and she continued to be their shining light in the World Cup. Ireland came pretty close to beating the West Indies and India and in both games, Prendergast put up crucial performances. Against the Caribbean side, she scored 61 runs, while against India, she removed Smriti Mandhana, who was batting on 87, and Deepti Sharma with successive deliveries.
Her skipper Laura Delany had some words of praise for the 20-year-old at the post-match press conference after the last game. “I hope people are taking note of how good Orla is. She was not available for the WPL. But I just hope franchise cricket takes note of that,” Delany said.
Both Marufa and Prendergast have shown the promise to be the future of their respective teams and to change the cricketing fortune of their countries in the years to come.
Sloppy but successful India make it to the semis
When the groups for the T20 World Cup were revealed, India were expected to make it to the knockout stage. They have indeed taken a semifinal berth, but the journey was not too smooth.
The win over arch-rivals Pakistan was by no means a straightforward as after giving away 149 runs, India were behind the required rate for most of the chase. It was a determined innings from Jemimah Rodrigues and some fireworks from Richa Ghosh at the end that got them over the line.
India’s biggest positive of the tournament probably came in their loss to England with Renuka Thakur’s five-wicket haul. The pacer bowled deadly inswingers in the powerplay to take the wickets of the top three batters. Known for their spin prowess, a pacer displaying brilliance is always a great sign for the Indian team.
Ireland’s poor fielding and rain gave some relief to the struggling Indian side as they faced 41 dot balls while batting. Smriti Mandhana scored her highest-ever T20I score of 87, but only because she was given multiple lives by the opposition in the field. Later, the partnership of Gaby Lewis and Laura Delany was threatening to take the game away from India, but the rain led the game to be abandoned at a stage where Ireland were still 5 runs short of the DLS par-score.