The 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will hold a special place in cricketing history. It was the biggest World Cup ever held in the sport with a total of 20 teams competing.

Bowlers dominated the tournament in the United States and the Carribean islands as pitches provided assistance and batters were forced to play the second fiddle. Three hat-tricks were taken in the World Cup, while no century was scored.

Heavyweights India ended their 13-year World Cup drought as Rohit Sharma and Co became the first team to win the tournament unbeaten.

The writers at The Field look back at those 55 matches and describe their favourite moment from the World Cup.

Surya catches the World Cup

By Abhijit Nair

“Catches win you matches,” is a cliché often thrown around in the world of cricket. It probably is one of the first phrases a newbie to the sport picks up. It is the most overused of all, but continues to be relevant.

With South Africa needing 16 to win off the last over in the World Cup final, Suryakumar Yadav provided a perfect example of why the statement holds true.

Hardik Pandya, entrusted with the responsibility of closing off the match for India, bowled a full toss to David Miller.

The left-handed batter, having already hit a boundary and a six in his 16-ball stay until then, sensed a big scoring opportunity and swung hard. He had put all his might behind that shot albeit off the toe end of the bat, but the ball seemed to be destined to go over the long-off boundary ropes.

It could have caused a huge dent for India and Pandya in their World Cup dreams.

But, it was then that Yadav decided to intercept it. Stationed at the boundary, the world No 1 T20I batter ran to his left and gobbled the ball up.

Easy? Nah, not really.

The momentum of his run to reach the ball meant that Yadav was in danger of going over the ropes. He was off-balance.

The 33-year-old from Mumbai calmly tossed the ball in the air, went past the ropes and then leapt in the air to catch the ball, and landed safely back in the playing area.

To quote the meme world, it was “Absolute Cinema” to send back South Africa’s last recognised batter.

“You’ve just dropped the World Cup”

The above words from Steve Waugh to Herschelle Gibbs at the 1999 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup forms a big part of the cricketing folklore.

By the former Australian captain’s logic, ‘Surya caught the World Cup for India.’

When football meets cricket

By Shahid Judge

All at once, there was a burst of laughter in the commentary box at the Arnos Vale Stadium in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The experts and pundits were watching a replay of what transpired on the pitch just moments earlier.

As Noor Ahmad got set to deliver the fourth ball of the 12th over, Gulbadin Naib at first slip fell to the surface clutching his left hamstring. A touch of cramp, perhaps. But the theatrics were just as exciting, the timing impeccable.

If one is to suffer from an injury, Naib sought the most opportune of moments to sink to the surface.

Afghanistan was on the cusp of making it to the semi-final of a cricket World Cup – across formats – for the first time. All they needed to do was beat Bangladesh in the Super 8 match.

At that stage in the contest, Afghanistan had crept ahead of Bangladesh in the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, which meant if the match was called off due to rain, it would be the Afghans who would be handed the win. As soon as the equation became favourable, and with rain on the radar, Afghanistan’s coach Jonathan Trott was seen telling his players to “slow it down.”

Naib understood the assignment, and executed it to perfection.

“Emmy, Oscar?” came suggestions for the playacting from the commentary box. In hindsight, it might not have been required, because the players were ushered off the field a few seconds later as the heavens opened up.

But amidst the hilarity of the incident, there was a cricketer from a nation that has punched well above its waist at the tournament. A player, ready to take a sanction from the International Cricket Council (which did not come), just so his team could take another great step forward.

Later, when the last Bangladeshi wicket fell, Naib sprinted in celebration towards his teammates. Are you not entertained?

USA make history

By Tanya Kini

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was supposed to be the big American debut on the cricketing world stage. Hosting an ICC tournament on home soil, albeit sharing it with the Caribbean nations, the United States weren’t expected to move out of their group, which had the likes of former champions Pakistan and India.

Ultimately they did, with two wins and a no-result against Ireland under their belt. But their biggest result in the sport came on Thursday, June 6 when Monak Patel and Co beat Pakistan in a stunning Super-Over finish.

USA had restricted Pakistan to a chaseable total of 159/7 with break-out star Saurabh Netravalkar taking 2/18 in his four overs along with the catch of Shadab Khan.

In the chase, the co-hosts were cruising until the 14th over when some inspired bowling from Pakistan saw them go from 104/1 to 145/3, needing 15 from the final over.

Aaron Jones and Nitish Kumar pulled off some incredible heroics to bring the scores level and enforce the Super Over.

Jones would then take on Mohammad Amir, off whom he managed only one boundary in the over. But the Pakistan bowler was rather loose with the ball, gifting seven wides and setting the target of 18 to win for his team.

Then entered Netravalkar in what was possibly the most important over of his career. While the Mumbai-born bowler also conceded a boundary and eight extras, including four leg byes, the wicket of Iftikhar Ahmed changed things around.

Shadab Khan came out needing 14 from 3 and faced the last ball. A six would see another Super Over, anything lesser would hand USA a historic win.

A single was all that Khan could manage and the USA dugout erupted in celebration. Media all over the country woke up to the potential that was the USA in cricket and a week later, the co-hosts had qualified for the Super Eights. Hollywood stuff in the making indeed!

Afghanistan stun Australia

By Samreen Razzaqui

A kind of tension always existed between Afghanistan and Australia now but come the T20 World Cup, Afghanistan would go on to do something that Australia wouldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams.

They not only upset the 2021 champions by 21 runs but also reduced their chances to deny them a potential triple crown this year. Afghanistan had taken down the mighty Australians, that alone was huge.

But with more context, the feat becomes even more impactful.

At the ongoing T20 World Cup, they also defeated heavyweights New Zealand. The Afghans also picked up wins over 2019 champions England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the 2023 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup and came close to defeating Australia before they were denied by Glenn Maxwell’s heroics.

It was bound to make this victory sweeter.

This match was crucial for Afghanistan to remain in contention in the tournament and they showed determination right from the start.

Maxwell was threatening to repeat his stunts yet again but Gulbadin Naib’s skillful use of slower deliveries proved decisive in thwarting the opposition’s efforts.

But this tasty rivalry has more to it. Cricket Australia had opted against participating in bilateral matches with Afghanistan, citing concerns over “significant declines in human rights for women and girls” in the country after the Taliban regime took over.

Earlier this year, Cricket Australia postponed both a planned three-match T20I series and a scheduled one-off Test match for the same reason.

As a result, it sparked a whole debate around whether powerhouse Australia were playing a role in hindering the progress of Afghanistan cricketers simply for belonging to the country.

With this win, Afghanistan was able to send out the message that despite all this, progress can indeed, be made.

Hat-trick heroes

By Dilip Unnikrishnan

After the relentless bowler-bashing in the two-month long Indian Premier League season, balance was restored in the cricketing world in the US and the Caribbean.

The conditions at all the venues offered help to bowlers which resulted in the 200-run mark being crossed just four times in 55 matches.

The tournament also saw three hat-tricks being taken by Australia’s Pat Cummins (two) and England’s Chris Jordan. Not only did Cummins become only the fifth men’s bowler to take two hat-tricks in T20Is, he also became the first man to take two hat-tricks in a single edition of the T20 World Cup.

Cummins became the second Australian men’s player after Brett Lee to claim a hat-trick in a T20 World Cup after getting the wickets of Mahmudullah, Mahedi Hasan and Towhid Hridoy in Australia’s Super 8 match against Bangladesh.

He then became the only player to get two hat-tricks in one edition of T20 World Cup in Australia’s Super 8 match against Afghanistan. He picked up the wickets of Karim Janat, Rashid Khan and Gulbadin Naib to secure his second hat-trick.

Funnily enough, Cummins picked up both his hat-tricks across two overs, which sort of makes his record even rarer.

Just a day after Cummins’ second hat-trick, Jordan joined the exclusive list with a four-wicket maiden over effort.

With the first ball of the final over, Jordan sent USA’s Corey Anderson packing. A ball later, the English bowler dismissed Ali Khan, Nosthush Kenjige and Saurabh Netravalkar to complete his hat-trick.

What made the feat even more special for the bowler was that it came at the Kensington Oval in Jordan’s native Barbados. Jordan was born and raised in the country before moving to England to study in university.