A Special Guest Post from my friend Leo (Vinay) who writes wonderful poems, stories and haikus at his space - I Rhyme Without Reason and is an ardent cricket fan...
Halfway through the tournament now, and the headlines around the week have been mostly watery, literally. It’s been either the rain or some cricketers catching a stomach bug due to drinking water (or so the papers say anyways.)
Coming to the cricket, it hasn’t really been extraordinary, but there has been entertainment. I feel in general, the expectation has been met. The so-called “strong teams” have advanced to the super eights, and the “minnows” have bowed out. There has been a decent crowd in the ground to support the teams, but I think it should improve for the super eights. Non Sri Lanka matches haven’t been sold out yet, but with some big matches on the cards, I believe that would change.
I do wish the Sri Lanka and South Africa match wasn’t rain curtailed. I think it’d have been a much closer affair hadn’t the rain taken a toll, and made it a 7 over hit-out. That apart, the cricket has been good. Warner and de Villiers have shown that they can clobber the cricket ball, as has Imran Nazir. Watson’s all round skills have got him two man-of-the-match awards so far, and at the head, Australia also seems to be in form. With Australia set to clash with India, South Africa and Pakistan in what seems to be an ominous group, India’s inability to finish strongly might come back to bite them.
Yes, there was a superb performance against England, but the fact that Afghanistan pushed them to the end means there is still things to sort out in the Indian camp, where Kohli and Rohit Sharma, and the returning Harbhajan and Yuvraj have been standout performers so far. The form of the Indian openers, both in batting and bowling are a worry. Sehwag, Gambhir and Zaheer have all struggled, and the Dinda experiment seems to have backfired, even in the one game. Going forward, I wonder if that means India are going for an all spin attack, with Ashwin, Chawla and Harbhajan, and Irfan being the lone pacer. A line-up as Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Raina/Sharma, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Irfan, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Chawla and Zaheer/Balaji seems the most likely in the current scenario.
I think most people would agree that I mention Ireland. They’ve bowed out, but a fair bit of luck has gone against them. The Colombo weather got the match v/s the West Indies canceled, which they might have won if Duckworth Lewis got a chance. Even if they had managed to hold off the Aussies for another 4 balls, they’d have got through on NRR. With their ability, I think it’s about time ICC gave them full membership. Or at the least, ICC should organize tournaments where the affiliates play against the bigger teams. Only that experience would help develop these nations quicker, not once in 4 years playing v/s the bigger teams. For that, ICC should look past the monetary outcome of the match I guess.
Players to watch out for in the Super 8s
Virat Kohli: in-form and the strong point of the Indian top-order. He can change the game, and I’m sure MSD and Duncan Fletcher would be looking for that form to continue.
Harbhajan: back with a bang, and sure to play against Australia. Bhajji loves the Aussies, so he’ll either put them out, or be put out of the team again by the Aussies. A battle to look forward to.
Shane Watson: all round abilities, opening the batting and bowling as well, means there’s more man-of-the-match opportunities should he continue to be the rock at the helm.
Hafeez/Nazir: a solid partnership at the top. They showed v/s Bangla what a solid partnership can do to change an innings. More such partnerships can steer Pakistan to the semis for sure.
Saeed Ajmal: took a bit of stick v/s Bangla, but the world’s #1 T20 bowler rattled the Kiwis and can do so to other opposition too.
Richard Levi: big hitting ability can turn a match, even if Duckworth Lewis comes to play.
AB de Villiers: same like Levi, but sound captaincy has helped South Africa come forward.
Dale Steyn: super stingy, and deadly accurate, a bowler that batsmen look to play out, rather than hit out.
Brendan McCullum: has already exploded onto the scene. But remains to be seen if there’s any fire left.
Ross Taylor: New Zealand have not reached a final of a big tournament. RT can guide them there.
Chris Gayle: with Windies at the Pallekelle batting paradise, this man is a threat.
Sunil Narine: a spinner with tact and control. A game-changer.
Alex Hales: youthful, energetic, solid at the top. His partnership with Kieswetter and Wright would be tantamount to England’s title-defense.
Thissara Perera: it was expected to be his World Cup, with him being a form player for the side. Can he step up his game in the next round?
Six days of quality, top of the world action starts tomorrow.
Team India's Schedule of Super Matches at the World T20 2012, Sri Lanka
India v/s Australia on Friday, 28th September
India v/s Pakistan on Sunday, 30th September
India v/s South Africa on Tuesday, 2nd October
If India and Pakistan can see out Australia and South Africa at this stage, a repeat of the mouth watering 2007 T20 WC final seems on the cards.
Here’s to some wonderful matches, and a prayer that rain, rain go away!