5 Biggest Upsets in T20 World Cup History

The game’s shortest format, T20 cricket, is such a great leveller, providing low-string teams with a chance to take on the heavyweights. Such unbalanced contests have often provided fans with drama and excitement.

The T20 World Cup, known for delivering an absolute cracker of matches, has witnessed some teams pull off massive upsets by defeating the top sides.

This article will take you through the 5 biggest upsets recorded in T20 World Cup history.

USA beat Pakistan | Dallas, 2024

The 2024 T20 World Cup co-hosts, the USA, were playing their first-ever T20I match against Pakistan. They asked Pakistan to bat first and restricted them to 159 runs, with Nosthush Kenjige (3/30) and Saurabh Netravalkar (2/18) shining with the ball for the USA.

In response, the USA’s captain, Monank Patel (50 off 38), led the charge, keeping his team in the contest. Later, Andries Gous (35 off 26) and Aaron Jones (36 off 26) also cheaped in, and Nitish Kumar (14 off 14) smashed a last-ball four to tie the match.

The game went into a thrilling Super Over, where the co-hosts blasted 18 runs. With 19 required, Pakistan could muster only 13 runs, capping off one of the biggest upsets in T20 World Cup history.

Netherlands beat England | Lord’s, 2009

England were up against the Netherlands in the 2009 T20 World Cup tournament opener. Everyone thought England would start their campaign on a winning note, but the match played at the iconic Lord’s had all the drama.

Put in to bat first, England posted a decent total of 162 runs on the board, with openers, Luke Wright (71 off 49) and Ravi Bopara (46 off 34) doing the heavy lifting for the hosts.

In pursuit of the target, the Netherlands had a rough start. They lost their first wicket in the first over and another one in the fourth, leaving them at 23 for 2.

However, Tom de Grooth (49 off 30) scripted a massive victory for the Dutch, along with Peter Borren (30 off 25) and Ryan ten Doeschate (22 off 17). 

With 7 required off 6 balls, the Dutch batters got 5 off 5, and a missed run out chance on the last ball helped them score 2 runs, handing England a shocking defeat in front of their home crowd.

Afghanistan beat West Indies | Nagpur, 2016

Afghanistan were still an associate team playing in the 2016 T20 World Cup. But they staged a coup against the eventual champions, the West Indies.

Batting first on a slow Nagpur track, Afghanistan mustered a paltry 123 on the scoreboard. Going by the West Indies batting standard, it seemed like a cakewalk for them.

But Afghanistan’s bowlers had other plans. They strangled the Windies completely with their pace and spin, restricting them to 117/8 and winning the match by 6 runs.

Namibia beat Sri Lanka | Geelong, 2022

The match between Namibia and Sri Lanka kicked off the 2022 iteration and also gave us an unforgettable contest. An underdog Namibian side stunned the high-spirited Sri Lanka, who were coming off their Asia Cup triumph.

After being asked to bat first, Namibia were reeling at 93 for 6, with 34 balls remaining in the innings. Then a late charge from Jan Frylinck (44 off 28) and JJ Smit (31* off 16) helped them put up a decent 163 on the board.

While defending the total, Namibia reduced Sri Lanka to 40 for 4 right after the powerplay. A 34-run partnership between Bhanuka Rajapaksa and captain Dasun Shanaka raised Sri Lanka’s hopes.

But once both were back in the pavilion, the Sri Lankan batters couldn’t hold onto their ground and were wrapped up for 108 runs.

Zimbabwe beat Australia | Cape Town, 2007

Australia were on cloud nine after winning the 2007 Cricket World Cup a few months ago in the Caribbean islands. So they were one of the favourites to win the inaugural T20 World Cup as well.

But the World Champions faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe in their first-ever T20 World Cup match. Australia won the toss and elected to bat first, but Zimbabwe’s bowlers proved that decision wrong.

Zimbabwe pushed Australia back at the start of the match, dismissing the experienced trio of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, and captain Ricky Ponting for 19 runs. Then they didn’t give too many opportunities to Australia and restricted them to 138.

In response, Zimbabwe got off to a decent start, however, Australia pulled some strings, leaving them at 70 for 4. But Brendan Taylor (60* off 45) held his ground and took Zimbabwe home by scoring the 12 runs needed off the last over.

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