Monday, April 15, 2024

T20 triumph


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THE MOTHER COUNTRY chose Little England yesterday to finally make history on world cricket’s stage.England, the county which invented the sport and hosted the first three World Cups, are proud holders of a global title for the first time.In front of hundreds of their countrymen who travelled 4 000 miles from London to Bridgetown, they conquered seemingly invincible Australia with a perfect game to capture the ICC World Twenty20, courtesy a seven-wicket triumph in a final at Kensington Oval in which they closed out the opponents from the beginning.In the process, they denied Australia the unprecedented honour of simultaneously holding the ICC’s three major trophies.Never before in 18 international tournaments over 35 years has an England captain lifted silverware, but Paul Collingwood enjoyed the huge satisfaction of doing so moments after he was swarmed by teammates after hitting the winning run.“This is a very special moment. The guys deserve everything they’ve got today. We’ve won a World Cup. You cannot take that away from us,” Collingwood told reporters.“We fully deserve the victory because of the way we played throughout the tournament. We’ve been consistent. We’ve taken the game to the opposition. The guys fought well for themselves.”Australia, fresh from a tournament high 197 in a sensational penultimate ball victory against Pakistan in the  semi-finals, were restricted to 147 for six due to a combination of high-class fielding and probing bowling.After a sound start, they made light work of the target, accomplishing their mission in 17 overs with a match-winning partnership between the dynamic South Africa born batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter in which they unleashed a series of remarkable strokes once they asserted themselves.Their only worry appeared to be when the sightscreen at the northern end stuck, leading to a short delay during which time the players went off the field.Man of the Match Kieswetter cracked 63 off 49 balls and Player of the Tournament Pietersen 47 off 31 balls, the pair adding 111 for the second wicket that settled the outcome of the match, but it was England’s effort in the  field and with the ball that set uptheir victory.They hardly put a foot wrong after they chose to field first – their accustomed preference in the tournament in which they won three of their last four matches when chasing.The first four Australia wickets to fall came from wonderful efforts that left them in tatters at eight for three and later 45 for four.The first piece of brilliance came from an alert Graeme Swann who dived to haul in a catch at first slip after  wicket-keeper Kieswetter muffed the initial offering from Shane Watson,  one half of Australia’s dangerous  opening combination.The other half, David Warner, didn’t get going either, falling to a run out  from a direct underarm throw by Michael Lumb.Kieswetter made no mistake second time around to take a high leg-side catch from Brad Haddin that gave Ryan Sidebottom a second wicket, but television replays appeared to show  that the ball came from the body and  not the bat.In the past, Australia displayed plenty of depth to work their way out of uncomfortable positions. Not so this time. They didn’t completely collapse, but most of the innings was spent rebuilding instead of dominating.David Hussey led a recovery of sorts with 59 off 54 balls and added 37 with captain Michael Clarke who made a run-a-ball 27 before he was prised out by a neat low catch by his opposite number, Collingwood. Cameron White threatened with a quickfire 30 off 19 balls, but it was too little, too late.Australia came into the match with an unbeaten record and six successive victories, needing only to win here to achieve the only piece of silverware missing from their collection.Afterwards, skipper Clarke admitted they were second best on the day.“The boys were very keen and excited. We knew it was going to be a great game. We had to be at our best. We knew England was going to be tough. They are a very good Twenty20 team,” he said.“It didn’t help after losing those three wickets early and it put a lot of pressure on our middle order. We were probably 30 runs short. The way how England batted, we were probably about  50 runs short.”


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