On the eve of Australia’s match against West Indies, the rookie all-rounder James Faulkner, just six matches into his T20 career, said: “I don’t like them very much.” Big mistake. Huge.
Faulkner it was who ended up being entrusted to bowl the final over. Since 19 runs had come from the 19th his work was cut out with another 12 required. He started with two dot balls but then the irrepressible Darren Sammy struck successive sixes, over long-off and straight, to win the match.
Presumably, Faulkner liked the Caribbean calypso boys even less after that. Sammy made mention of it immediately afterwards and Chris Gayle, with whom Faulkner apparently has some previous, tweeted: “When you come to shoot, shoot – don’t TALK!!”
Australia’s task of qualifying for the semi-finals of a competition they have never won is highly unlikely. They must win their last two matches and depend on other results.
The match was another sizzling affair, given an added frisson by Faulkner’s unwise utterance. Australia never quite took off in their innings, although Gavin Maxwell made another racy contribution with 45 from 22 balls.
They might have settled for a total of 178 for 8 but Gayle seemed stirred for the first time in the tournament and galloped sleepily away to 53 from 35 balls before being stopped in his tracks by the leg-spin of James Muirhead. There was plenty of work left to do when Sammy joined Darren Bravo after three balls of the 17th over at 130 for 4. He made light of it, swatting 34 in 13 balls.
India became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals by seeing off Bangladesh without exerting themselves and have become the team to beat. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra (3 for 26) was again among the wickets as India restricted the hosts to a below-par 138 for 7 and chased down the target with eight wickets and nine balls to spare to secure their third win in three matches in the tournament.
India’s opener Shikhar Dhawan’s struggle for fluency continued but the steady Rohit Sharma (56 off 44 balls) and in-form Virat Kohli (57 not out off 50) negotiated the modest Bangladesh attack with ease on the way to a century stand.
England’s women defeated Bangladesh with ease, too, but their dependence on Charlotte Edwards, the skipper, who made 80 from 69 balls with 11 fours, is becoming a concern. There were only another four boundaries in the whole innings of 137 for 5.
Bangladesh were never remotely in the hunt and fell to 32 for 7 before effecting an extremely minor revival to finish on 58 for 9. Edwards was forced to leave the field after being hit in the face while fielding. England remain on course for the semi-finals but are far from being at the top of their game.