From four wickets in four balls to the Quinton de Kock kneeling affair to India’s elimination, there were plenty of talking points in the group stage of the T20 World Cup.
AFP Sport looks back at seven standout moments so far at the seventh edition of the tournament:
Fast bowler Curtis Campher took four wickets in four balls to help Ireland thrash Netherlands by seven wickets in a first week qualifier.
Campher claimed a hat-trick and then struck again to return figures of 4-26 as Netherlands were dismissed for 106.
Campher became only the third bowler in T20 International history to claim four wickets in four balls after Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka in 2019.
Pakistan end India jinx
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan smashed unbeaten half-centuries as Pakistan crushed India by 10 wickets to register a first win over their arch-rivals in a T20 World Cup.
Chasing 152 for victory, Babar (68) and Rizwan (79) steered their team home with 13 balls to spare in Dubai.
Left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi set up victory — Pakistan’s first against their neighbours in six attempts in the tournament — with figures of 3-31 that restricted India to 151-7 despite a valiant 57 from skipper Virat Kohli.
De Kock makes a stand
Quinton de Kock withdrew from South Africa’s match against the West Indies after refusing to take the knee.
The 28-year-old’s shock decision came just hours after Cricket South Africa (CSA) had ordered all of their players at the tournament to take part in the anti-racism gesture.
De Kock apologised two days later and said he would be happy to join the rest of the team in making a stand.
“If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so,” he said.
Kohli anger at ‘spineless, pathetic’ trolls
India captain Virat Kohli launched a blistering attack on “spineless” and “pathetic” fans, reserving particular vitriol for the trolls who blamed Mohammed Shami, the only Muslim player in the squad, for the loss to Pakistan.
“There’s a good reason why we are playing on the field and not a bunch of spineless people on social media that have no courage to actually speak to any individual in person,” said Kohli.
“Attacking someone over their religion is the most pathetic thing that a human being can do.”
Pre-tournament favourites India went on to lose to New Zealand and failed to make the last-four.
Buttler serves masterclass
England made it four wins in four after Jos Buttler hit the first century of the World Cup in a 26-run victory over Sri Lanka.
Buttler’s unbeaten 101 — his maiden century in 86 T20 internationals — steered England to 163 for four.
Buttler smashed six fours and six sixes in his 67-ball knock as he achieved the feat of making centuries in all three formats.
Hasaranga — a star is born?
Sri Lanka may have been knocked out in the Super 12 stage but their youthful team caught the eye and are already being talked of as potential champions at the 2022 World Cup in Australia.
Wanindu Hasaranga, their leg-spinning all-rounder, stood out with 16 wickets at an average of under 10. The 24-year-old took his wickets total for 2021 to 36, the year’s best at the time of his country’s elimination.
“Hasaranga is a special cricketer,” said coach Mickey Arthur.
‘End of Windies generation’
West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard lamented the “end of a generation” as Dwayne Bravo brought the curtain down on his international career with Chris Gayle almost certain to join him in calling it quits.
Defending champions West Indies were defeated by Australia by eight wickets in their final group game, their fourth loss in five matches.
Both Bravo, 38, and 42-year-old Gayle — who played in the 2012 and 2016 T20 title-winning teams — were given a guard of honour by the Australian players in Abu Dhabi.