It is never a simple task to win in T20 cricket on a regular basis, due to the nature of the format. In 120 balls, anything is likely to happen, with even a minnow team capable of hoping that they can beat a team ranked higher than them, due to one major individual performance from their team or a mix-up by the opposition side.
Here are those which have been able to maintain the longest winning streak in T20 internationals over the last seven years since the format’s inception in cricket.
1) England – 8 (May 2010 – January 2011)
England have proved that they are a capable T20 side, with several of its players benefitted from having not participated in the lucrative Indian Premier League tournament. As a result, they went through a purple patch, having won 8 consecutive T20 internationals on the trot from the period of May 2010 – January 2011, an amazing record indeed.
It all started in the World T20 2010 in the Caribbean, when England beat the defending champions Pakistan in the first Super Eights game they had played at Bridgetown, Barbados which went on to become the team’s fortress as the tournament progressed further. The team had won earlier against the hosts West Indies but their group match against Ireland was washed out, so the win against Pakistan cannot be considered a consecutive one, but the first of the lot with Kevin Pietersen beginning a magnificent run of form with this match. He smashed an unbeaten 73 off just 52 balls to guide England’s run chase of 151 as they prevailed by 6 wickets.
The next match was against South Africa at the same venue, this being a key clash for England to prevail in. England won the toss and chose to bat first in a surprising decision, but Pietersen hit another fifty, this time off just 33 balls as his efforts were backed well by the English bowlers who really turned up that day to help beat one of the tournament favourites by 39 runs.
The final Super eight game was against New Zealand at Gros Islet and the team was in such terrific form that any team seemed pushovers in front of them. However in this game, due to Pietersen not being there in the team since he had to fly back home to attend the birth of his son. Yet, the team had enough talent in it to win the game as they did so by 3 wickets with five balls to spare, chasing 150 yet again. Sri Lanka were up next to play and this was the first semifinal of the competition. The Lankans decided to bat first after winning the toss and elected to bat first, but could put up only 128 runs in 20 overs, with England’s bowling yet again up to the mark. That made the run chase simple as Pietersen made merry yet again, hitting an unbeaten 42 off just 26 balls to see England home, countering the threat of Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga extremely well. The mission was accomplished with four overs to spare.
England were in the final, but had to get better of their Ashes rivals Australia which made it the marquee clash of the tournament. Australia had earlier beaten Pakistan in the semifinal, despite being in a losing position in 37 of the 40 overs of the match played. So even though England were in good form, it was an uphill task to get the better of the resurgent Kangaroos.
Australia were sent in by England captain Paul Collingwood to bat first. David Hussey’s 59 off 54 balls took Australia to 147/6 in 20 overs, which was a decent score but still gettable for England as the pitch was extremely good for batting. One of the highlights of the innings was Collingwood taking the catch of the tournament to dismiss his Australian counterpart, Michael Clarke off the bowling of Graeme Swann.
Therefore it was fitting that Collingwood hit the winning runs in the chase of 148, although the real heroes were opener and wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter who gave the team a flying start with his 49-ball 63 while Pietersen ended the tournament in style, despite having missed out on a fifty with a 31-ball 48. England won the final by 7 wickets, and the ICC World T20 which was their first ever global title. The man of the series was without doubt, Kevin Pietersen as he established himself as one of the world’s finest T20 batsmen.
England then played 2 T20 internationals at home against Pakistan, both at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. The hosts won both the matches in convincing fashion. In the first game, England reduced Pakistan to mere 126/4 in 20 overs, after winning a crucial toss and sending the visitors into bat. Eoin Morgan and Michael Yardy put a 65-run stand for the sixth wicket in 50 balls to see the team home, which was similar to the one which played in the World T20.
While the second game saw a far more clinical performance from the home team. Pakistan batted first yet again and were bundled out for a paltry 89 in 18.4 overs. All the bowlers except Yardy were amongst the wickets. England chased down by 90 with six overs to spare, winning by 6 wickets to whitewash Pakistan in the T20 series.
Their next T20 international however, was in Australia after the Ashes series. It was a different ball game altogether from Test cricket so England had to start afresh. The match went down to the wire Australia won the toss and chose to bat first on a helpful Adelaide pitch. The hosts ended with 157/4 in 20 overs courtesy Shane Watson’s 31-ball 59. Eoin Morgan impressed again with a 33-ball 43 but England had lost 9 wickets, requiring 4 runs to win off 5 balls. Chris Woakes, the fast bowler hit the winning runs on the last ball of the match to ensure England go 1-0 up in the 2 match T20 series.
However, England’s 8 match winning streak came to an end with a defeat by a narrow margin of 4 runs at Melbourne in the hands of Australia, which leveled the series 1-1, and was Collingwood’s last T20 match as England captain.
2) South Africa – 7 (March 2009 – June 2009)
South Africa may have never won a World Twenty20 title, but that does not stop them from possessing an enviable record of winning 7 T20 matches in a row in a particular period of time. The team, then led by Graeme Smith was efficient in this format of the game and the run started against Australia in the 2 T20 internationals at home in March 2009.
The first T-20 international was played at The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. South Africa won the toss and chose to field first, which was a brave decision considering how flat the pitch was for batting. It took a one-man show from the Victorian David Hussey to make Australia reach a competitive total of 166/7 in 20 overs, after he hit 88 runs off just 44 balls, remaining not out till the end.
South Africa were helped by quick fire knocks from wicket-keeper batsman Mark Boucher who smashed 36 runs off 22 balls, and all-rounder Albie Morkel who scored 37 at a strike rate slightly above 200. The hosts won by 4 wickets, with four balls to spare as they went 1-0 up in the series and the man of the match was David Hussey, despite being in the losing side.
The second game was at the Supersport Park, Centurion. This time, it was Australia who won the toss and chose to field first. South Africa managed to put up 156 on the board, courtesy a 30-ball 48 from the left arm spinning all-rounder Roelef van der Merwe, who is more popular due to his presence in teams such as Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL and Somerset in English county cricket.
Australia though, batted very poorly with David Hussey again top scoring, but with 27 runs off 18 balls. The team finished at 139/8 in 20 overs, and as a result whitewashed in the series, giving South Africa a 17-run win. van der Merwe deservedly won the man of the match award for his all-round efforts, as he was responsible in ending Hussey’s stay at the crease.
South Africa’s next assignment was the T20 World Cup in England in the summer of 2009. They missed out the last time the tournament was played, at home. But in England, they were definitely one of the favourites to win on the basis of current form and the fact that some of their players had participated in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was an ideal warm up for the tournament.
Their first group game was against the low ranked Scotland team at The Oval in London. Scotland were expected to receive a huge drubbing in the hands of the Graeme Smith-led Proteas and that is exactly what happened. South Africa won by 130 runs, with AB de Villiers remaining unbeaten on 79 off just 34 balls, carrying on from where he left off in the IPL, having turned out for the Delhi Daredevils. Jacques Kallis opened the batting with Graeme Smith for the first time in T-20 cricket and Kallis scored a 31-ball 48, which took South Africa to a massive 211/5 in 20 overs. The Scottish men in reply were bowled out for a paltry 81 in 15.4 overs, with the highest score being of Kyle Coetzer who hit an impressive 32-ball 42. Dale Steyn, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha and Roelef van der Merwe picked two wickets each to seal the victory.
The next game however, was a thriller played at the ‘Home of Cricket’ appropriately, Lord’s. It was against an injury-stricken New Zealand side. South Africa were sent in to bat first by skipper Brendon McCullum, and the ploy seemed to work as the Protean batsmen struggled to come to terms with the conditions and some disciplined New Zealand bowling. Graeme Smith top scored with 33 as none of the batsmen went on to make a big score. The team finished at 128/7 in 20 overs, and the Kiwis were in the driver’s seat. However, New Zealand also choked as South Africa proved why they had one of the best bowling attacks in the competition. McCullum hit a 57, but the Proteas surprisingly held their nerve to clinch a 1 run humdinger. van der Merwe was declared the man of the match once again for an economical, yet wicket-taking spell of bowling as he picked 2/14 in his 4 overs.
South Africa had qualified for the Super Eights and played hosts England in their first encounter in Trent Bridge, Nottingham. England batted first but were shot out for 111 in 19.5 overs with Wayne Parnell picking up 3 wickets in his 4 overs and van der Merwe continuing to have a superb tournament, with another 2 wicket haul. However, it was Jacques Kallis who won the man of the match award for his all-round performance in the game. He picked 2 wickets for 20 runs in 3 overs, while he remained unbeaten on 57 off just 49 balls, playing the anchor role in South Africa’s chase and taking them home with 10 balls to spare.
The following game was against a resurgent West Indies side at The Oval. Kallis and Smith continued their fine form, putting up a 54-run stand in just 35 balls. But it was Herschelle Gibbs who stole the show with his 35-ball 55, which made South Africa score 183 runs in 20 overs. West Indies, on the other hand were a one-man army with Lendl Simmons scoring 77 out of the team total of 163 in 20 overs. Parnell and van der Merwe again shared the spoils between themselves, while Dale Steyn picked up two wickets to confirm a 20-run win for South Africa and a place in the semifinal of the competition.
Hence, it became a formality for the team to play India in their final Super Eight game once again at Trent Bridge. India came up with an impressive bowling performance to reduce the South Africans to 130/5 in 20 overs, as AB de Villiers top scored with a 51-ball 63 batting at No.3. But in reply, Dhoni’s men failed to chase down a small target as the South African bowlers once again bowled tidily with India’s batsmen having no answers to short-pitched deliveries as yet. But the pick of the bowlers was the off-spinner Johan Botha, who ended with figures of 3/16 in 4 overs. South Africa won by 12 runs and this was good practice before the semifinal against the mercurial Pakistan team.
South Africa had the world record of winning 7 matches in a row by the time they were knocked out of the tournament by the eventual champions Pakistan, who won a close semifinal by just 7 runs. Once again, the Proteas had choked coming into the last four of an ICC event.
3) Pakistan – 7 (June 2009 – November 2009)
Their winning streak began in the World T20 2009 in England. Although they lost to hosts England and Sri Lanka in the group games, they had beaten minnows Netherlands earlier before beginning to win matches on the trot. Led by Younis Khan, the man with a flashy smile, Pakistan were able to make history since Imran Khan and co. did in the World Cup 1992.
The first match of the streak was against New Zealand at The Oval. The two teams had met in the semifinal of the 2007 edition of the championship, and this was as good as a rematch with Pakistan prevailing once again. Umar Gul famously picked 5 wickets in 3 overs, giving away just 6 runs as New Zealand were bowled out for a mere 99 in 18.3 overs. Pakistan chased down the 100 runs with ease, winning by 6 wickets with 41 balls left by the end of the innings.
Their next opponents were Ireland, the team which had defeated them in the 2007 World Cup group game in the West Indies to knock them out of the competition. But this was a different format of the game altogether and since then both teams have undergone changes. Kamran Akmal, the wicketkeeper batsman top scored for Pakistan with his 51-ball 57, which took Pakistan to 159/5 in 20 overs. Ireland’s chase was a failed one, having faced 120 balls and scoring 120 runs. Saeed Ajmal ended with figures of 4/19 in 4 overs, while Gul picked up 2 more wickets as Pakistan won by 39 runs.
The win made Pakistan enter the semifinal at Nottingham against South Africa, the team which was considered by many as the ‘Goliaths’ of the tournament. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first in a crunch game and Shahid Afridi stepped up for his country when they needed him to do so the most. Having being promoted up the order to bat at No.3, he hit 51 runs off just 34 balls to guide Pakistan to a modest total of 149/4 in 20 overs. In reply, South Africa shockingly fell 7 runs short despite yet another fifty from Jacques Kallis and an unbeaten 39-ball 44 from JP Duminy. Afridi inflicted more agony in the South Africans with the ball in his hand, having picked the huge wickets of Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers in his four over spell, giving away only 16 runs as he won the man of the match award for his performance.
Pakistan were to play the final against their Asian rivals Sri Lanka, the same team which had beaten them in the group stages. The match was to be held at the grandest stage of them all, Lord’s. Sri Lanka may have been the favourites to win due to their consistent form and the fact that they won the toss and elected to bat first. Yet, Pakistan were the team which seemed to play the final with all the dedication required to do so. Abdul Razzaq, the all-rounder picked the key wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene in his spell of 3/20 in 3 overs, which reduced Sri Lanka to 138/6 in 20 overs. It was only after some blitz in the end by Angelo Matthews that got the team to such a score.
Although Sri Lanka had an attack comprising of the 3 Ms, i.e. Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan, yet Pakistan systemically went about the run chase. Kamran Akmal gave Pakistan a good start once again smashing 37 runs off 28 balls. But ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi was in such sublime form with the bat that the Sri Lankans could not stop him with whatever strategies they employed against him. He fittingly hit the winning runs, which made Pakistan win by 8 wickets with 8 balls to spare, and the World T20 title as well for the first time ever, having narrowly missed out in 2007 due to loss in the final against India by 5 runs. Afridi was declared the man of the match again but Tillakratne Dilshan won the man of the series award.
Incidentally, Pakistan’s next T-20 assignment was a one-off international against Sri Lanka in Colombo. The only change perhaps in the Pakistani team was Shahid Afridi being the captain of the team, following Younis Khan’s surprise retirement from the format following the World Cup win.
Yet, it did not make a difference in Pakistan’s style of playing as they proved why they deserved to be called world champions as their batting was of the highest quality. Pakistan reached 172/5 in 20 overs, with Afridi bringing up yet another fifty, off just 37 balls. He was supported well by the other batsmen while the Sri Lankan bowling attack clearly had pressed an off-switch. Sri Lanka faltered in the chase, once their captain and wicketkeeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara fell after scoring 38 runs off 31 balls, with the score being 100/4 in 13.2 overs. The home team was bowled out for 120 as Saeed Ajmal and pacer Naved ul Hasan ended with three wickets each to their names. But it was Afridi who won his third man of the match award in a row in T20 cricket.
New Zealand soon came over to Pakistan’s adopted ‘home’, the United Arab Emirates for 2 T20 internationals. Both of them were played in Dubai. In the first of the two games, Pakistan prevailed by 49 runs. They won the toss and chose to bat first, with explosive Imran Nazir making full use of the deteriorating pitch with a 38-ball 58, as his innings was backed by Afridi and Razzaq’s cameos with the total reaching 161/8 in 20 overs. New Zealand made a feeble reply, as they were bowled out for 112 in 18.3 overs as all the Pakistani bowlers barring Gul picked atleast a wicket each. Nazir however was awarded with the man of the match trophy for a good batting effort.
While the second game proved to be a much closer contest. Pakistan got the golden opportunity to bat first yet again and went on to score 153/5 in 20 overs, with the top score of the youngster Umar Akmal who hit a 49-ball 56 batting at No.3. He won the man of the match award for this effort mainly because it helped the hosts get the better of the Kiwis. New Zealand however showed some great character in their run chase of 154, falling just 7 runs short as Pakistan’s bowling was average, but just adequate to inflict a whitewash, 2-0.
However, the winning streak finished on the tour of Australia where Pakistan lost a T-20 international to the hosts, in what turned out to be a winless tour for the team.
4) Sri Lanka – 6 (June 2009)
Sri Lanka’s best performance so far in T20 internationals came in the ICC World T20 in 2009 in England, where they put up an outstanding run of winning six matches in a row. The team, led by legendary wicket-keeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara made a terrific comeback in this format of the game after a disastrous outing in the 2007 edition of the championship in South Africa. The Asian giants have since then, proved to be a menace for teams and they will definitely turn up as one of the favourites to win the World T20 2012 at home.
The first group match was the acid test itself for the team, since they had to face the 50-over world champions Australia at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. Sri Lanka won the toss and courageously chose to bowl first. What was to follow was a scratchy performance from a clearly underprepared Australian side. Ajantha Mendis showed the first signs of his dominance in T20 internationals with a challenging spell of 3/20 in 4 overs, which included the wickets of captain Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Michael Hussey. It was due to Mitchell Johnson’s end blitzkrieg that Australia managed to put up 159 in their 20 overs.
Australia’s bowlers also seemed to be low on morale following their defeat against the West Indies in their last match. The Sri Lankan batsmen made the most of it, and this was the game which also saw the rise of Tillakratne Dilshan as one of the world’s most dangerous batsmen to bowl at, since he had recently begun opening the batting for the Lankans. Dilshan hit a 32-ball 53, which was much needed to support Sangakkara who finished with 55 not out off just 42 balls, to take Sri Lanka home by 6 wickets, with 6 balls to spare. Although it was a clinical team performance which knocked Australia out of the tournament, the Sri Lankan captain won the man of the match award.
At the same ground was the next match Sri Lanka were scheduled to play. It was against the West Indies, led by Chris Gayle. He won the toss and made perhaps the worst error he could, to ask Sri Lanka to bat first. This was the incentive needed for the team to win this game and the opening partnership itself demoralized the men from the Caribbean. Dilshan hit his second half-century on the trot with a 47-ball 74. The veteran Sanath Jayasuriya was more aggressive in his batting, smashing 81 runs off 47 balls, which included ten fours and three sixes.
West Indies in reply were in the hunt to some extent courtesy Dwayne Bravo’s 51 runs off 38 balls, but could not go for the victory due to Sri Lanka saved by the spin duo of Mendis and Muralitharan. Sri Lanka won by 15 runs to qualify for the Super Eight stage of the tournament, where their first opponents were to be the same team which they go on to meet in the final, Pakistan and incidentally at the same ground, Lord’s in London.
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first, which allowed Dilshan to carry on from where he had left off, hitting 46 runs off 39 balls, in the process also top-scoring in the innings. Pakistan bowled extremely well to reduce in the in-form Sri Lankan batting line up to a mere 150/7 after 20 overs, with Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul amongst the wickets. But the Lankan giants were even better with the ball, as captain Younis Khan’s quickfire fifty was negated with Muralitharan and Malinga giving away almost nothing and picking up wickets at regular intervals. Sri Lanka won by 19 runs in the end, with the man of the match being Dilshan.
The team almost faced an upset in the next game by minnows Ireland, with Mahela Jayawardene saving the blushes of the team big time with a knock of 78 off just 53 balls to get Sri Lanka to a modest total of 144 in 120 balls. It could have been chased down by Ireland, who fought hard till the end but if the time had a few good skilled batsmen, Sri Lanka’s winning streak would have come to an end for sure. But a 9 run win assured the team a place in the semifinal, with one Super Eight game still to be played which was against New Zealand at Nottingham.
They seemed to be back on track against the Kiwis with a crushing 48 run victory. Dilshan was in red hot form, once again hitting a big 37-ball 48 while Jayawardene played the ideal finisher for the Lankans, with an unbeaten 29-ball 41 as the team finished at 158/5 in 20 overs. While the bowling was once again spot on, as the Kiwi batsmen had nothing to play at. They were bowled out for a paltry 110 in 17 overs, with Mendis picking yet another three-wicket haul in the competition of his four overs.
Sri Lanka’s opponents in the semifinal were West Indies once again, at The Oval in London. West Indies decided to field first in what was a replica of the decision in the group game and the match was almost given to Sri Lanka. Dilshan, in his unbeaten 57-ball 96 hit the ‘Dilscoop’ with panache, of the bowling of Kieron Pollard in a crunch game which made the shot one of the highlights of the tournament. The other batsmen did not contribute as much, which explains why the final total after 20 overs was just 158.
Yet, it proved to be enough as West Indies were rallying along with only Gayle hitting a 50-ball 63, carrying the bat throughout the innings, with none of the other batsmen reaching double digits. It was a thumping 57-run victory and ensured them a place in the final against a resurgent Pakistan side.
It was against Pakistan that the winning streak was over as Sri Lanka lost by 8 wickets, in what was a rare off day for both the batsmen and the bowlers as Dilshan fell for a duck while Mendis proved to be expensive. The team could not stop Shahid Afridi taking the honours away in the end and guiding Pakistan to the World T20 title.
Note: Australia and South Africa also have posted 6 consecutive T20 international wins, but Sri Lanka was the first time to achieve it, so it features in this list.