The Super 12s stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup is finally in the books. The stage featured some very exciting matches with hard-hitting action. There were also plenty of upsets, and several big names are going home earlier than they would have imagined. Ahead of the semi-finals, we take a look at five things we loved and five things we disliked during the Super 12s.

The Things We Loved

Bowlers Come Out On Top

Since its inception, T20 cricket has been a lot more forgiving and favourable to batters than it has been to bowlers. But the dew factor aside, bowlers had a lot of fun during the Super 12s stage of the T20I World Cup. There was only one score of 200+ and that came in the game between India and Afghanistan. Other than that, it was the bowlers who enjoyed more success than their batting counterparts. And it wasn’t just the spinners. The pace bowlers also made big contributions with their various variations, test-match lengths and blistering pace.

Underrated Names Show Out

Many expected the star names to lead the scoring and wicket-taking charts at the T20 World Cup. But the Super 12s stage saw several underrated and under the radar names come out on top. The likes of Adam Zampa, Dwaine Pretorius, Haris Rauf, Maheesh Theekshana dominated with the ball, while Mohammad Rizwan, Charith Asalanka, Aiden Markram and Darryl Mitchell impressed with the bat. Of course, we also saw vital contributions from some big names like Jos Buttler, Babar Azam, David Warner, Trent Boult and a number of others. But it was great to see a number of new superstars establish themselves during the Super 12s stage.

Associate Teams Display Their Mettle

Only two Associate teams managed to qualify for the Super 12s stage at the T20 World Cup. But both Scotland and Namibia played without any fear, displayed a great attitude and showed that they belong at this level. Scotland came within 16 runs of earning a historic win against New Zealand. While Namibia caused a fair few problems to the Pakistan and India bowling attacks. In the end, they weren’t able to take any points away from the big guns. But their performances will certainly have shown the big-wigs at ICC that the Associate teams deserve more of a chance at these big tournaments.

Pakistan Deliver Stunning Response To Recent Adversity

There is a great passion for cricket in Pakistan and expectations are always high going into a global tournament. The build-up to Pakistan’s World Cup preparations has been dominated by the decision made by New Zealand and England to pull out of their tours to the country. That has galvanised the nation. And despite all the recent off-field politics and upheavals in the coaching staff, there is a sense that the Pakistan players could make a real impact at the World Cup. Their first aim will be to beat India, and their second goal will be to reach the semi-finals.

Teams Take A Stance Against Racism

This could have easily been in the other column with all the controversy surrounding the Quinton de Kock saga. But teams at the T20 World Cup turned it into a positive by taking a clear stance against racism. Several teams spoke out openly about this stance, and in the end even de Kock took a knee with his South Africa teammates. There should be absolutely zero room for racism, and the teams involved in the Super 12s did a great job of showcasing that message.

Chris Gayle still having fun despite a disappointing World Cup for the West Indies

The Things We Did Not Like

The Lack of Close Games

It is always frustrating when the toss of a coin ends up playing a crucial role in deciding the outcome of a match. And that proved to be the case in many games at the World Cup, with teams often electing to bowl first to take advantage of the dew. There were hardly any major final over thrillers which are so often associated with T20 cricket, during the Super 12s stage. The gulf in class was always going to be apparent between the big teams and the Associate nations. But even games between the big teams often proved to be mis-matches.

Big Names Go Missing

It was rather surprising to see some of the biggest names in cricket fail to make an impact during the Super 12s stage of the T20 World Cup. The likes of Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Jonny Bairstow, Kagiso Rabada, Mustafizur Rahman are just some of the world’s T20 superstars who weren’t able to meet the lofty standards they have set for themselves.

The Dubious Scheduling & Lopsided Groups

Just like we saw at the 50-over World Cup in 2019, the match schedules for different teams weren’t exactly fair. India got a week’s rest between their games against Pakistan and New Zealand. Whereas Pakistan got only one day to prepare for their game against New Zealand after beating India. New Zealand also had to play in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the space of five days. While Afghanistan got an extra day’s rest and played their last three matches in Abu Dhabi. Bangladesh and the West Indies were impacted by a similarly chaotic schedule.

The fact that the final round of Super 12s fixtures weren’t played at the same time was also unfair to some of the teams, even though it didn’t end up having a real impact in the end.

ICC must also do a better job of evenly splitting the teams. Having the likes of England, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies, with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka joining them from the qualifiers wasn’t exactly fair. While the other group only had three big contenders in India, Pakistan and New Zealand. With the next World Cup fast approaching, the ICC must work out these kinks to ensure that all teams get a fair and equal shot.

West Indies & Bangladesh Fail to Make The Most of Their Talents

While the West Indies and Bangladesh weren’t necessarily the favourites going into the World Cup, the expectation was that they would make a big splash at the tournament. The West Indies, with all their T20 specialists and superstars, and Bangladesh, buoyed by wins over Australia and New Zealand, were both among the dark horses to win the World Cup. But they ended the tournament with more scores of fewer than 100 (3) than wins between them (1). Being in the group of death certainly didn’t help their cause. But along with India, the West Indies and Bangladesh are the two teams that will feel that they should have fared better at the World Cup.

India’s Timid Approach

India’s approach for their games against Pakistan and New Zealand was timid and passive. And it ensured that they were among the first teams to be eliminated from the Super 12s stage despite going into the tournament as heavy favourites. Whether it was a sense of overconfidence, or the players were simply tired; India only have themselves to blame for their disaster showing. They failed to take advantage of the powerplay in their opening two games, looked ordinary in the field and were completely outplayed in all departments. And by the time they realised what they were doing wrong, it was too late.

Despite a chaotic schedule for this World Cup, New Zealand managed to qualify for the semi-finals with relative ease after a big win over India