Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Biggest T20 World Cup Yet?

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...


We’re just one day away from what the broadcasters claim will be the biggest World Cup T20 yet. I wonder if it will be so. In my mind, my heart, the first World T20 in South Africa, in 2007 was the best edition, and it would remain so. Not because India won, but because what transpired. Neither the second edition that took place in England, nor the third one that took place in the Caribbean have had that much excitement to be frank. India and Pakistan were in one group, there was a bowl-out needed to separate the two Asian Goliaths in a match, for the first time in T20 a bowler was smashed out of the park for six times in a single over, the previously proclaimed dominance of the Australian team was challenged and conquered, and the single most fierce rivalry in World cricket as we know it was played out in the finals as well. Hell, the stadium at Kingsmead was almost like a second Eden Gardens to the national team. We did it all, and it was the biggest spectacle possible. How, I ask, can India and the world top that in Sri Lanka over the next three weeks?


No. That’s the right answer any unbiased mind can tell. None of the teams are in any particularly excellent T20 form. Even in the warm-up games. India wins a game against Sri Lanka, and then goes on and loses to Pakistan. Zimbabwe, though a full member nation of the ICC lost their game against Ireland and also against Bangladesh; likewise New Zealand have also lost both warm-up matches. Agreed, the format is such that luck also plays a very big part in the result, but still, no team can be called favorites for the title. England will miss the explosive KP in their title-defense, and he is a vital cog, having been the best player when they won the title in the Caribbean. In my eyes, the only team in a good consistent form is Ireland. I hope they do well in the games, and get that Test Cricket status that they deserve.


The biggest strength of the Men in Blue I feel are the opening 10 overs, be it while bowling or while batting. They are the most explosive in that period, and not many teams can match that. It was on display today, when they played Pakistan. Having watched the match from the start, I think they do lack that bite in the death overs. They play themselves to get a bigger target on board to defend, and lose the focus in the last three or four overs, and end up getting 10 or 20 runs less. In saying so, it’d be an injustice if I fail to mention the partnership between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli that actually got India to that decent total of 185. Without that camaraderie, I doubt the Men in Blue would have got to 150. Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal were especially brilliant for Pakistan in that death overs, and it’s that excellence that I feel India can take a leaf out of. All bowlers except for the impressive Ravichandran Ashwin were taken to the cleaners, and if fingers are to be pointed, I am sure the first person they’d go at would be Balaji. He bowled his first two overs for just 9 runs, and then lost the plot, gave away 32 runs in his last two, which proved to be India’s undoing. If India were to get past England and Afghanistan, both of whom cannot be taken lightly in this format, they need to sort out their death bowling options.


Not looking very far ahead, India’s opposition in the group games are England and Afghanistan. In a usual scenario, India might be given the favorites tag, but even without KP, England have an assortment of power hitters and all rounders who can change the game. Players like Kieswetter, Hales, Wright and Morgan, and a batting depth that goes till Stuart Broad at #8, and if included, Samit Patel at #9. That’s firepower India cannot afford to take lightly. Afghanistan are the dark horses. They have talent, and more importantly, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They’re not after T20 rankings, or world reputations, so they will play their hearts out. If Ireland can win against England, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the like in 50 overs format, then the Afghans can defeat any team if they put their minds to it. If people are looking for a scenario in the future rounds where India can face Pakistan only in the finals, then first step would be to hope both India and Pakistan are top ranked in their group fixtures so they avoid each other in the Super 8s.

I still have my doubts as to this being the biggest T20 yet. I’ve never seen many empty seats during an India Pakistan game, even during a warm-up encounter. Today, there were many. Is the rivalry dwindling? No idea. But one thing was proven today. Warm-up, or not, Pakistan can beat India on the World’s biggest stage for cricket.


C Suresh said...

And the fun begins!! Good curtain-raiser DS!

Unknown said...

INDIA INDIA INDIA INDIA( to be read as a chant) :D

T F Carthick said...

Take on from here and go blazing, DS.