India pacer Umesh Yadav has received plenty of flak from fans for failing to defend 14 runs in the final over in the first T20 against Australia but he has been given some support by his team-mate Jasprit Bumrah.
Australia needed 16 runs to win from the final two overs in their chase of 127 at Visakhapatnam on Sunday before Bumrah bowled an excellent penultimate over where he conceded just two runs.
Umesh, however, was unable to hold his nerve in the 20th over as Australia snatched a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Defending his colleague in the post-match presentation, Bumrah said, “This happens, death bowling is always difficult in any situation. It always goes both ways and it’s sometimes 50-50.”
“You try your best, and you’re clear in your execution. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. Nothing to be worried. We wanted to close the game in our favour but it’s okay,” the India pacer added.
Bumrah, who finished with figures of 3-18 from his four overs, also defended the batting by MS Dhoni in the match. Dhoni remained unbeaten on a 37-ball 29 in India’s total of 126-7 but the veteran wicketkeeper invited plenty of criticism after refusing to take as many as eight singles while batting with the tail.
“We were just trying our best. He was just trying to take the game deep and trying to get us to a safe total which he tried. I think he gave us a total something we could fight for,” said Bumrah.
The second and final T20 between the two sides will take place at Bengaluru on Wednesday.
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Former South Africa international AB De Villiers has signed to play for Middlesex in this season’s T20 Blast.
De Villiers, who retired from all forms of international cricket last May, is widely regarded as one of the best players of the modern era.
He will be available for Middlesex’s first seven T20 Blast matches and, if they qualify, could return for the latter stages of the competition.
The 35-year-old averaged 50.66 from 114 Tests, added to a remarkable one-day international average of 53.50 from his 228 matches. De Villiers boasts the record for the fastest ODI century, from just 31 balls against West Indies in 2015.
He has also excelled in the shortest form of the game, where he has continued to ply his trade around the world since announcing his shock retirement from international cricket, amassing over 7,300 runs from 272 matches.
De Villiers will once again line up for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in this year’s Indian Premier League and has recently starred in the Bangladesh Premier League – where he smashed a 50-ball century. He is currently playing in the Pakistan Super League.
He told Middlesex’s website: “I have always wanted to play county cricket, and I am very much looking forward to joining Middlesex for the Vitality Blast. Playing at Lord’s is always a wonderful privilege, and I’m looking forward to the match at Richmond, a beautiful ground in south-west London. That will be a great experience.”
The South African’s devastating domestic T20 strike rate of 148.85 will make him an exciting addition to a Middlesex squad who have struggled in the Blast.
They finished bottom of the South Group last season and have named former West Indies coach Stuart Law as their head coach in all formats – meaning Daniel Vettori leaves his role at the helm of the T20 side.
Law said: “It’s a great opportunity for some of our younger players to pick the brain of one of the best players to have graced the game of cricket and for the support staff to work with him as well.
“I look forward to working with AB this season and can’t wait to watch one of my favourite modern day batsmen up close and personal.”
Batting first, Afghanistan’s batsmen took full toll on the Irish bowlers to rack up a mammoth 278-3 in their 20 overs. It is the highest total ever recorded in a T20 international, beating the previous highest score of 263-3 by Australia against Sri Lanka in 2016.
It was opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai who was the star of the show with the left-hander amassing an unbeaten 162 off just 62 deliveries with the help of a staggering 16 sixes and 11 boundaries.
The 16 sixes struck from Zazai’s bat is now the world-record for the most by any batsman in a T20I, overtaking the 14 sixes slammed by Aaron Finch against Zimbabwe.
Zazai’s 162, however, fell 10 runs short of the highest individual score in T20Is which was recorded by Finch during his innings of 172 against Zimbabwe.
Zazai and Usman Ghani put on a sensational opening stand on Saturday with the duo adding a world-record 236 runs for the first wicket. The previous highest opening stand in T20I cricket was the 223 runs added by D’Arcy Short and Finch against Zimbabwe.
Afghanistan batsman Hazratullah Zazai hits:— Sir Jadeja fan (@SirJadeja) February 23, 2019
👉Highest no. of sixes in a T20I (16)
👉3rd fastest century in a T20I (42 balls)
👉2nd highest individual score in a T20I (162* off 62 balls)
As Afghanistan hits highest ever score in a T20I 278/3. #AFGvIRE pic.twitter.com/Xj16wWforv
Ghani was ultimately dismissed for a 48-ball 73 but Mohammad Nabi continued Afghanistan’s onslaught in a five-ball cameo that included two sixes and a boundary.
In total, Afghanistan struck a whopping 22 sixes in their innings on their way to 278-3.
Ireland fought fire with fire with skipper Paul Stirling starting off his side’s chase with a first-ball six off Mujeeb ur Rahman. Stirling registered the highest score by an Irish batsman in T20Is before he was dismissed for a 50-ball 91.
Once Stirling departed, it was star leg-spinner Rashid Khan who took control for Afghanistan with a four-wicket haul that sealed a crushing win for his side.
The Afghans have now taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with the final T20 set to take place at the same venue on Sunday.
Hazratullah Zazai: 162 not out (62)
Usman Ghani: 73 (48)
Paul Stirling: 91 (50)
Rashid Khan: 4-25