Despite the inevitable pressure of opening the tournament as the host nation, Sri Lanka turned in a spectacular performance to dispatch an admittedly poor Zimbabwe side with ease. Ajantha Mendis took an extraordinary six wickets for eight runs in his four overs, as he bettered his own previous world record of six for 16. Before heading to the Super 8’s, a mouth-watering clash with South Africa lies in store, and they will be keen to feed off the home support in Hambantota. A win there, and the Sri Lankans will be confident of going all the way in this tournament.
No longer do Ireland go into competitions such as this as underdogs. After holding their own against many of the Test-playing nations in recent years, they were outclassed by an Australian side that looks very capable of going one better than in 2010. The initial group phase format has left Ireland facing the prospect of a disappointing early exit, particularly with the formidable West Indian team completing their group. They have pulled out performances when needed in the past, but it would be something of a surprise to see them contesting the Super 8 stage.
Having battled back from three months of treatment for a rare form of cancer, the India batsman Yuvraj Singh has achieved his aim of returning to the national side. Integral to their success in the 50 over World Cup in 2011, being part of a tournament victory would cap a remarkable return for the big-hitting batsman. His contributions of 18 from 20 balls with the bat, and 3-24 off his four overs with the ball, suggest that he is more than ready to prove to the world that his hiatus from the game has not diminished his cricketing abilites.
Despite ultimately falling short against India, Afghanistan showed themselves to be more than capable of holding their own in this tournament. They clearly have talent within their ranks, but as is so often the case with minnows taking on the bigger sides, their inability to hold catches cost them dear. In all, four chances went down against the Indians which is extremely costly in the shortest form of the game. Speaking before the tournament, England batsman Luke Wright acknowledged that the Afghans are “no mugs”, and they will be afforded respect when the two sides meet in Colombo on Friday. The pressure will be firmly on England as defending champions, and Afghanistan will have taken a great deal of confidence from how far they managed to push India.
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BIOGRAPHY: Mohamed Salah