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The greatest Twenty20 International assaults

T20s are games of hitting. The most important factor in the format is making runs quickly. However, sometimes it’s easier to hit out than others. Here are some of the most brutal displays of hitting in T20Is.

Yuvraj Singh: 58 from 16 balls vs England:

The 2007 World T20 was a new experience for all involved. Despite T20s existing since 2003, most teams were still getting to grips with this shiny new format, and there had never quite been anything like the World T20 at the time. That made the power hitting on display much more surprising, as the world was still struggling to understand the potential of this new frontier.

India’s tournament so far had included a win against Pakistan which went down to the bowl out, a rained out match against Scotland, and a loss to New Zealand. A defeat here for India would all but eliminate them. England were already out, having lost their first two games of the Super 8s and their only win so far coming against Zimbabwe in the group stages, and were playing for pride.

India were 155-3 when Yuvraj Singh walked out, tasked with finishing the innings with a flourish, and he started well enough.

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Two overs left in the innings and India were at 171-3. Then Andrew Flintoff riled Yuvraj up with some words. What happened next, to Stuart Broad, was something that won’t be forgotten anytime soon

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Whatever Broad tried was dispatched with extreme prejudice. Yuvraj had emulated a feat only achieved at senior level by Garry Sobers, Ravi Shastri, and Herschelle Gibbs and never in T20s: he had hit 6 sixes in an over. He had made what is still to this day the fastest 50  at senior level, off 12 balls (which has been equaled, by Chris Gayle, but not surpassed), and poor Stuart Broad had the second most expensive figures at the time, 0-60, which was only 4 runs short of the record which was set 2 days prior. India were 207-3 now, with 1 over to go.

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Yuvraj was finally dismissed for 58, and it had come off only 16 balls. This sort of innings was unthinkable a mere 5 years ago, but T20 changed the way the game was played. Statistically, this is still the quickest innings of 50 or more in T20Is, but with the way the game is played now, that likely won’t last too long.

Colin Munro: 50 from 14 balls vs Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka were not enjoying their time in New Zealand. Crushed in nearly every game so far, they were just desperate to go home. Angelo Mathews played an excellent hand but received no support whatsoever by his teammates who played with the urgency of people more worried about going home than winning a match. Sri Lanka limped to 142-8 on what was in truth a good batting pitch that they didn’t take advantage of. New Zealand would quickly show them how good it was for batting.

Guptill and Williamson started the innings excellently and Guptill broke the New Zealand record for the fastest T20 fifty, bringing it up with a lovely shot that flew over long on for six. New Zealand sped away to 82 runs in the power play and 89 in 38 balls by the time he was Guptill was dismissed. Sri Lanka would’ve been forgiven for thinking that they had dealt with the worst of it. They couldn’t have known how wrong they were.

Colin Munro came in with a good platform and nothing to lose. He dispatched Thisara Perera for a powerfully struck six off his second ball and things only got worse from there.

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Jeffrey Vandersay was smashed for 20 from 5 balls he bowled to Munro in the next over, and Isuru Udana was lofted over cow corner.

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Dushmantha Chameera, in 4 balls to Munro, disappeared for 17 runs, in what turned out to be the last over.

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Munro hit the winning runs with a six, reaching his fifty, off just 14 balls, in the process, destroying Guptill’s record in under 20 minutes and it was second only to Yuvraj Singh on both the quickest 50s and highest strike rates for 50+ scores. Sri Lanka were nothing short of annihilated, but fortunately went home after that match, rather than staying for longer and stay with the scars.

Netherlands: 190-4 from 13.5 overs vs Ireland:

It was the business end of the group stages of the 2014 World T20. Earlier in the day, Zimbabwe had thrashed the UAE to edge ahead of Ireland on net run rate. However, Ireland were still in a better position to qualify, as all they needed to do was win their final game, against the Netherlands.

Netherlands weren’t actually out of the tournament at this point, but few have them a chance, especially after Ireland ran up 189. To qualify, the Dutch needed 190 from under 14.2 overs (15.1 overs if a six was hit with the scores level). To many, the best they could do was win to send Zimbabwe through to the Super 10s. However, the few people who did believe they could pull it off were all at the ground in the Dutch camp.

Captain, Peter Borren, pushed himself up to open with Stephen Myburgh, and they got off to a blazing start, smashing Paul Stirling for four off the first delivery of the innings, before they launched into Andy McBrine, carting him for 25 in the second over.

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If any of the Dutchmen had doubts earlier, they truly believed now. Every ball was awaited with baited breath from their camp,as the Irish came in to bowl. Even now, Ireland still had plenty of reason to trust themselves, as Stirling was little more than a part timer and McBrine, inexperienced.

As Tim Murtagh, their best bowler, came in to bowl, they still believed. He was taken for 12 as Netherlands continued to keep pace, with Borren and Myburgh just in a special zone. Myburgh Creamed Alex Cusack for 22 in the next over, before bringing up a half-century off only 17 balls, at the time the second fastest in the format.

Murtagh went for 14, before Kevin O’Brien came in to dismiss Peter Borren. Netherlands had still made 91 in the power play, the highest in a T20I. When they reached 100 in the following over, it was, at the time, the fastest any team had taken to reach 100 in all T20s.

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George Dockrell came into bowl, and took the big wicket of Myburgh, who had blitzed his way to 63 at a strike rate of almost 275. O’Brien then struck again in the next over, and it seemed Netherlands were done for and Ireland had seen the worst of it. Ireland stayed ahead for a while, but didn’t take any wickets. But things seemed to drift a little, which was good for Ireland as Netherlands fell behind.

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But in the space of one over everything changed. Tom Cooper launched into George Dockrell, who had been the pick of the bowlers, and the game was suddenly alive once more. Zimbabwe seemed in the best position before that over, as Netherlands needed 58 from 10 overs. But Ireland were starting to claw back. But that over changed everything,  and it would take nothing short of a miracle to save them now.

Tom Cooper was dismissed the next over, after pulverizing the Irish for 45 at a strike rate of 300. Netherlands continued to claw ahead, until Tim Murtagh bowled what became the final over. With 13 needed from 8, WessleyBarresitore into Murtagh to take the Netherlands through to the main draw

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It stands, to this day, as perhaps the greatest chase in T20 history, with the sheer ferocity of the chase and so much on the line for the Netherlands. This was their only chance for 2 more years to get a shot at playing the big guns. They launched into Ireland as they had nothing to lose, and they came out on top, defying all expectations. There were still high points to come, challenging New Zealand and South Africa before prevailing against England to prove that there was depth and talent beyond the test world. It was important not just for them, but associates in general.

Afghanistan: 104 runs in 6 overs vs Ireland:

Despite coming close twice, Ireland were still winless going into the third of three T20Is against Afghanistan. They had tried their hearts out, but the Afghans, particularly the young, but incredibly talented, Rashid Khan, had been able to squeeze out two wins. While Ireland were desperate for a win before starting the ODI leg of the tour, Afghanistan wanted to extend their record 10 T20I wins in a row to even loftier heights.

Mohammad Shahzad got Afghanistan off to a blazing start after being sent in to bat. His boundary laden 72 was fluent and he never looked uncomfortable despite losing a few partners. When he was dismissed, Ireland might have thought that they could squeeze the life out of the tail, as the rest of the top order aside from Shahzad Looked scratchy and were dismissed cheaply. But going into the death overs, the lower order, particularly Mohammed Nabi, had other ideas.

Jacob Mulder, who had bowled quite well prior, was dispatched for two beautiful sixes by Nabi and and went for 16 runs in his last over.. George Dockrell, who has also been quite good, copped it almost as bad, going for 13.

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Barry McCarthy was annihilated by Nabi, who hit him for 18 runs from the last 4 balls of the over after Samiullah Shenwari took 1 run from the first ball. Stuart Thompson was then dealt with in a brutal manner, with Nabi Piercing the gap for 4 to bring up a 21 ball fifty, before dispatching a filthy long hop for a towering 6. 200 looked barely on at the start of the fourteenth over. Now, 240 seemed possible.

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Kevin O’Brien came in to dismiss Shenwari, who just starting to find his rhythm, but Afghanistan kept going, with Nabi whacking O’Brien for 4, followed by the new man in, Karim Janat, pulled O’Brien for 6, before mistiming a slice through the off side to be dismissed. Nabi continued though, reminding Ireland of his presence by hammering O’Brien’s last ball for 4.

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McCarthy came back to bowl the final over, and he would’ve been forgiven for not wanting to after what happened in it. Nabi got strike for the second ball and what followed was nothing short of brutal. McCarthy bowled three bad balls, reminding everyone of his inexperience, which Nabi dispatched for 3 gargantuan sixes.

The good ball followed, but Nabi wasn’t to be stopped, as he mistimed a slash and got a thick edge which ran away to the boundary. McCarthy got everything perfect off the final ball though, as Nabi could only hit to the non-striker’s stumps which gave McCarthy enough time to run Nabi out.

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Afghanistan finished on 233-6, having taken 104 runs off the final 6 overs, the most by any team in that period of the innings. It was also the highest score by an Associate side, and Nabi had made the highest score by a player batting at 6 or lower in T20Is, and his strike rate of 297 was the third highest for any player in an innings of 50 or more in T20Is. McCarthy was dispatched for 69, the most expensive figures in T20Is, and bore the brunt of that onslaught. A lesser team would’ve given up after that, but Ireland are no lesser team.

Ireland: 91-1 from 6 overs vs Afghanistan:

Later that very same match, Ireland were out of the blocks quickly. Unwilling to suffer the ignominy of a 3-0 loss, they were not about to let the tall order of a 234 run chase deter them.

Shapoor Zadran came into bowl to Paul Stirling and Stuart Thompson, who was opening in an attempt to push the scoring rate up front. Stirling Got off to a quick start, hitting Zadran for a four and a six in the first over, a combination of both some pretty poor bowling by Zadran and clean hitting by Stirling.

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Amir Hamza was next in Stirling’s sights, and Stirling messed with his lengths to hit a six and 2 fours. Shapoor Zadran came back to bowl the next over, and bowled much better, only going for 10, but more noticeably, created 2 chances, both to Stirling, both easy, both dropped.

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Mohammed Nabi was next in Stirling’s sights, and he was launched for 2 fours, before Thompson dispatched him for a six to bring up Ireland’s 50. Then came 3 balls of madness. Stirling scythed a boundary off Zadran, and he overstepped to boot. He smashed the free hit over mid-on for another six, but then hit the next delivery to the fielder and had to depart. However, Thompson didn’t miss a beat, and took 12 runs from the final 4 balls. 23 runs had come from the over.

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Nabi bowled the final over of the powerplay, but the over wasn’t much different from what came before. He bowled 3 good balls, before Thompson Hit a full toss and a ball pitched too far down leg for towering sixes. At the end of the over, Ireland had made 91 runs, the joint most after the powerplay in T20Is.

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The two teams had, combined, made 195 runs from the last 12 overs of the match, the most ever in a 12 over period in the format. Ireland had smashed their way to a good position, but things quickly went downhill as Rashid Khan, the bane of their existence in the previous T20I, took 3 wickets for only 28 runs to lead Ireland to a collapse which gave Afghanistan a 3-0 series win.

Carlos Brathwaite: 24 from 4 vs England:

Finally, what will perhaps be remembered as the most famous moment in WT20 history. West Indies and England duked it out once more for the final of the 2016 World T20. They had played in the group stages, where a Chris Gayle ton almost single handedly defeated the England attack

England proceeded to beat South Africa by chasing 230, Afghanistan after a brief scare, survived an Angelo Mathews one-legged special which almost took Sri Lanka to victory, and New Zealand in the semi final, the Kiwi’s only defeat of the tournament. West Indies rolled past Sri Lanka, prevailed in a low-scoring thriller against South Africa, lost their only game of the tournament to Afghanistan, and defeated India despite another ViratKohli special.

Going into the final over of the final,  Joe Root and JosButtler took England to 155-9. Marlon Samuels played an almost lone hand to bring West Indies within an unlikely 19 runs from the final over for a win.

Ben Stokes came into bowl. His greatest weapon as a death overs bowler is his consistency, or rather lack of it. While Chris Jordan has razor-like precision to pull off yorkers,Stokes doesn’t even seem to know what he’ll bowl, which can sometimes work and sometimes not.

Stokes was bowling to Carlos Brathwaite, who was still a youngster at international level. First ball, Stokes sprays it down leg, and Brathwaite smashes it for a six over deep backwards square. 13 needed off 5. Second ball, easily hittable length, and Brathwaite deposits it over long on. 7 off 4. Third ball, fuller, and hit over long off. 1 off 3, West Indies have now all but won it.

Fourth ball, Stokes sprays down leg again, and Brathwaite launches it into the Kolkata crowd one final time, and Ian Bishop shouts that famous phrase, “Remember the name!” Brathwaite had hit 24 runs in the final over, the most ever in the last over of a successful chase.

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With all the problems that this West Indian side went through before, during and after the tournament, this ranks as perhaps the greatest win in World T20 history. Brathwaite and the West Indies were determined to win this as one final “Stuff you” to WICB before most of the big players would likely never play again because of their run ins with the board. No one was going to stop them.

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