Over the five ICC World T20 tournaments so far, we’ve seen some batting that has taken the craft to a new level. The World Cups have been held in five separate countries – South Africa, England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (now in India) – and irrespective of the conditions and pitches, there have been some truly memorable knocks against all odds. Not all of them have been massive centuries or breath-taking assaults; some have simply been match-winning innings that stand the test of time.
Let’s take a look at one outstanding batting performance from each of the 5 World Cups:
Yuvraj Singh (70 off 30, Semifinal v/s Australia)
Nobody has had an impact on India’s modern World Cup success as much as this one player. While many will remember his 6 sixes against Stuart Broad earlier in the inaugural tournament, it was his belligerent 70 against ‘favorites’ Australia that actually truly made the young Indian team believe that they could win the tournament. He missed out on the quarterfinal against South Africa, and after debutant Rohit Sharma’s brave performance against the Proteas, Yuvi once again took charge and continued from where he left off against the mighty Aussies. He mauled Andrew Symonds, Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken, helping India set a stiff 188. Australia fell 15 short despite a Hayden special, and India were in the finals. We all know what happened next.
Sanath Jayasuriya (71 off 47, v/s West Indies)
The grand old man of Sri Lankan cricket was still the marauder everyone knew him to be, in what was perhaps his last competitive season of international cricket. In the group stages, they faced a strong confident West Indian team, batted first, and their first wicket fell in the 13th over for the score of 124. Jayasuriya had already raced to 74 runs, destroying Fidel Edwards and Kieron Pollard, leaving the stage to his partner Dilshan (the highest scorer of the tournament) to finish things off. They reached 192 on a hard Nottingham pitch, 14 more than what a Bravo-driven West Indies managed to score. For the record, no century was scored in this tournament. Dilshan came closest, when he scored 96 in the semis against the same West Indian side.
Michael Hussey (60* off 24, semifinal v/s Pakistan)
This was the tournament in which Mahela Jayawardene almost scored three T20 centuries, ended up as the highest scorer, yet the it truly belonged to Michael Hussey. Pakistan was on the verge of entering yet another final only eight months after it won the previous tournament in England, and with 21 needed off the final Saeed Ajmal over, they looked set. But Hussey had other ideas. Nobody will forget his rearguard act that day, after he walked in during the 14th over and played 24 balls to score 60 astonishing runs against the run of play. It was perhaps the greatest recorded T20 international comeback in the history of its young format.
Marlon Samuels (78 off 56, final v/s Sri Lanka)
We’ve written about Samuels’ god-mode many times, but no words can do justice. He took his team out of a hole (they had scored 38 in the first 10 overs), and dragged them to a competitive total on the back of perhaps the most stunning destruction of T20 cricket’s best bowler. He repeatedly flicked and slammed Lasith Malinga’s attempted yorkers into the stands, making him end on figures of 54 runs off his four overs. Nobody will forget the way he broke loose against Malinga – those three sixes in an over – while everyone fell around him until Sammy finished it off in style. Sri Lanka gave away 98 runs of those last eight overs, and never really recovered, even when they attempted to chase down a score. They were well and truly deflated and shocked after having West Indies on the ropes.
Umar Akmal (94 off 54, v/s Australia)
There’s a reason why Pakistan have stuck with Umar Akmal, the youngest of the three brothers, through thick and thin. This innings is a reminder. He enters the 2016 edition as their best batsman too, but the way he took the challenge to an Australian attack with Mitchell Starc, Doug Bollinger and Shane Watson was truly something to behold. He dragged his team to 191, ultimately doing enough to make them win by 17 runs, but it was his creativity, talent and innovation that married each other on a rare day where Pakistani batsmen trumped their own bowlers.