Thursday, March 20, 2014

Top 5 Bowlers to watch out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

My list for top 5 Bowlers to watch out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

Saeed Ajmal

He is the master of the doosra and uses it sparingly. He makes the batsmen dance to his tunes and entangles them in his web. Using the crease well and the angles coupled with his subtle variations make him a deadly bowler. In conditions which aid him slightly, which I guess will be the case, he will be nigh unplayable!

Ajantha Mendis

The mystery spinner; his mystery was supposed to have been cracked a few years ago but continuous to prove a handy bowler. With the number of variations that he possesses I guess the batsmen will never be able to play him comfortably unless he bowls badly himself. Sri Lanka is pitted against England, New Zealand and South Africa in the group stage; all relatively weak players of spin and Mendis will be licking his fingers to bowl at those clueless batsmen!

Sunil Narine

Another mystery spinner, this time from the West Indies!! Quite similar to Mendis in many ways but also quite different, he probably bowls at a much quicker pace than the former. Befuddling and confounding the batsmen with his bag of tricks, he has been a success story in the shorter format.

Dale Steyn

For quite some time he did not do well in the shorter formats of the game as well as he did in the test match arena but recently all that has changed. His pace and disconcerting bounce make him a difficult proposition for the opposing batsmen and the fact that he is used in short one/two over spells means that he gives it his all in those overs.

Lasith Malinga

His awkward action and the low slinging action make it a challenge for any batsman facing him for the first time. But even when you get used to his unusual action his deadly accurate yorker’s make life difficult; it only gets worse when he starts getting the ball to curl in and then swing away from the right handed batsmen and then if you get past all that then a small matter of a barrage of fast and slow bouncers remains to be negotiated!!

Which bowlers will have the most impact in this WT20 according to you and why do you think so? Voice your opinions in the comments section below!!

Read My List of the top 5 Batsmen to Watch Out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

Read the Review of the England and New Zealand Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the South Africa and Sri Lanka Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the Australia and India Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the West Indies and Pakistan Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Top 5 Batsmen to Watch Out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

My list of the top 5 Batsmen to Watch Out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

David Warner

He has come a long way since he was sent home for disciplinary reasons during the Champions Trophy last year. He looks like he means business when he strides out to the crease these days, reeling hundreds galore during the Ashes series and also against the South Africans. He packs a punch and bowlers will look to snare him early or else he will run away with the game in a short period of time.

Corey Anderson

Having slammed a hundred in just 36 balls against the West Indies recently in an ODI made him a household name. What is most fearful about him is that he has followed that innings with several similar cameos against the Indians recently showing that the hundred was not a fluke. He makes hitting look very simple and effortlessly slams the ball over the ropes. He is also a handy bowler which makes him any captain’s delight.

Chris Gayle

Any list of the most feared batsmen in twenty-twenty cricket is incomplete without the mention of this man. He is a tornado, a gale waiting to unleashed. There is a method to his batting as he takes his time to get his eye in and then suddenly takes off. No ground in this world is big enough once he gets going, no bowler good enough to stop him. Adding to his batting is his uber cool persona; who can forget his Gangnam Style celebrations during the WT20 2012!!

AB de Villiers

He is a batsman who makes batting look simple. He hits his straps from ball one and as he is a fantastic runner between the wickets keeps the scoreboard ticking. A brilliant manipulator of the field; he finds those gaps in the field which never seemed to exist. Silky cover drives and whips off his pads are his favorite shots. He is also a brilliant fielder to boot!

Kusal Janith Perera

He is my dark horse for this tournament and I am backing him to be one of the most explosive batsmen in this WT20. He has modeled his batting on Sanath Jayasuriya and he has not done a bad job of it at all. He possesses those wrists of steel just as his hero and those flicks of his legs invariably land in the crowds invoking memories of Jayasuriya. The cuts, pulls and the lofted shots down the ground will all make you sit up and watch in awe as he will remind you of the man he imitates!!

Which batsman are you looking forward the most this WT20? Who do you think will be the most difficult batsmen for the opposing captain’s to contain?

Read My Top 5 Bowlers to watch out for in the World T20 2014, Bangladesh

Read the Review of the England and New Zealand Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the South Africa and Sri Lanka Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the Australia and India Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Read the Review of the West Indies and Pakistan Cricket Team for the WT20 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review of Group 2 for WT20 2014 – Part 2, Pakistan and West Indies

The teams that make up the Group 2 – Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Qualifier A1
  • Pakistan

They will make you cry, they will make you laugh, they will enthrall you, they will disappoint you, they will combust, they will seem unconquerable but most certainly they will make sure that you will not have any nails left to chew on once the WT20 gets over in 3 weeks time! Pakistan is one team that can be banked upon to provide all the masala that can make a Hollywood blockbuster!! There will be passion, emotion and drama when they play. Can they lift the trophy they won in 2009?

The batting will revolve around the dependable Mohammad Hafeez. He will be expected to be the anchor man around whom more carefree players like Ahmed Shehzad, Umer Akmal and Shahid ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi can be more adventurous. The old hands of Shoaib Mailk will be there to guide the ship in case of a storm and he will have the raw blood in Sharjeel Khan and Sohaib Maqsood supporting him.

It is the bowling though that can cause headaches to any other team in this WT20. They have the experienced Umar Gul who can swing and reverse swing (yes even in T20!), then they have the young Junaid Khan who can be a handful be his pace and the left arm angle. Then there is the king of spin, Saeed Ajmal who can bamboozle the batsmen with his plethora of tricks. Supporting him in the spin department will be the captain Hafeez and enigmatic Afridi.

Pakistan certainly has a team which can demolish any opponent on a good day. But they are so unpredictable that they can demolish themselves too!! It will be quite fascinating to see which Pakistan turns up against India on the 21st March which might well give us an indication of the things to come later!

Team Rating – 6.5/10
  • West Indies

If there is any other team that can provide a viewer with the ups and downs as Pakistan can, then its West Indies. They are the one team that endears the neutral fan; they provide you with the simplistic joys of watching the game, the uninhibited and exaggerated style of their shot making, their fancy celebrations or their animated passion! They have a slew of players who are just made for this slam bang T20 version. As defending champions they will have fine memories of the last tournament and they will want nothing less than equal that performance.

The giant Chris Gayle will look to blow away opposing teams with his bat scything away like a sledge hammer. Dwayne Smith is a pretty clean striker himself and he will, in all probability, open the batting with Gayle. Then there is the hero of the WT20 2012 final Marlon Samuels. The Bravo brothers, Lendll Simmons, Andre Russel and the captain Darren Sammy will provide the slog over sparklers. Darren Sammy is in all probability, the captain who has the most number of critics in the world but he deserves place in this side. He almost always provides a strong finish while batting and is a brilliant fielder, sneaks in a few quiet overs in nearly each game and is a passionate leader.

The bowling will be led by Sunil Narine who will like bowling on the pitches in Bangladesh. He will be well supported by Samuel Badree just like the last time. The new fast bowlers Krishmar Santokie and Sheldon Cottrell both looked promising young lads during the recently concluded T 20’s against England.

I will back the West Indies team to make it through to the knock out stages. They have some pretty exceptional talent; players who can single-handedly deliver a win from hopeless situations. Can they become the first team to win consecutive WT20 tournaments?

Team Rating – 8/10

Are you supporting Pakistan? What are your views on them? Or are you a Caribbean Calypso fan? Do you think they will make it to the finals this time around? Share your views in the comments section below!!

Also read the Review of Group 1 for WT20 2014 – Part 1, England and New Zealand

Also read the Review of Group 1 for WT20 2014 – Part 2, South Africa and Sri Lanka

Also read the Review of Group 2 for WT20 2014 – Part 1, Australia and India

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review of Group 2 for WT20 2014 – Part 1, Australia and India

The teams that make up the Group 2 – Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Qualifier A1
  • Australia

The team that ruled world cricket for nearly two decades but slumped with a slew of retirements of its greats is now once again slowly finding its mojo back. Darren Lehmann has instilled the killer instinct in his wards once again. With the Ashes being regained in a manner not many expected and the recent wins over the current number one test team SA have made this Aussie team deadly as it carries with it a momentum that will be hard to stop.

The batting starts with the pocket rocket David Warner and the destructive Aaron Finch and continues all the way down with Shane Watson, Cameron White, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner and Brad Haddin completing what can be called a pretty strong and enviable line up. And if this was not enough Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc can thwack a few themselves! It will be a daunting task for any team to be able to contain that batting line up.

The bowling suffered a blow as Mitchell Johnson is ruled out due to an infection to his toe but it is still pretty decent as there is the other Mitchell 'Starc'. Then there is the evergreen Brad Hogg who still has the guile to baffle the batsmen with his googlies. The young spinner James Muirhead also looks like a man with a potential and can be called upon to fill the spinner’s shoe. And then there is Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell along with James Faulkner who are all handy bowlers in the shortest format of the game.

The Australians have the arsenal to go all the way but they will have to adapt to these conditions pretty quickly after having played most of their recent cricket on the fast and bouncy pitches in their own backyard and in South Africa. Will they be able to claim the one major ICC trophy that is missing in their vast riches?

Team Rating – 8.5/10
  • India

The Indians can’t seem to win a game while playing abroad these days. They have endured some pretty horror tours in the recent times but more eerily the personnel have remained vastly the same. How much longer a rope can be given to players such as Rohit Sharma, or for R Ashwin for that matter? Does Yuvraj still have it in him to make a difference? Has MS Dhoni lost his magical charm? Will the Indian bowlers stand up please? Will Virat Kohli find an ally to save the sinking Indian ship or will he have to battle alone? These are some of the questions that the Indian team grapples with as it dreams of winning the tournament it won in its inaugural edition.

The openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma generally start slowly but they are both capable of picking up the pace once in. Virat Kohli will be the key for India once again and India will hope that he finds someone to support him in each game. There are serious question marks over the form of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina so it remains to be seen if they can blow the horn or not. MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane, along with Kohli will be the three men that the Indian batting will rely on to post moderate scores.

Posting moderate scores is one thing but defending them is quite another. Indian bowlers have been hammered and battered into dust on all the recent tours. They have been unable to either pick up wickets or keep the runs down. R Ashwin is looking confused by the day; recently he even resorted to changing his bowling action but without any success. Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja have looked the pick of the bowlers but even they are inconsistent and prone to leaking runs.

At this point the odds are firmly stacked against India. But then Twenty 20 is one format where fortunes can turn faster than a spinning wheel. They will do incredibly well to reach the knock out stage. Once there though, it’s anybody’s game!!

Team Rating – 5/10

Do you think that I have given low ratings to India? What ratings would you give them? And how do you think will the Aussie’s fare this time around? Share your views in the comments section below!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review of Group 1 for WT20 2014 – Part 2, South Africa and Sri Lanka

The teams that make up the Group 1 – England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Qualifier B1

  • South Africa

They are the perennial under achievers in the global tournaments. They have the ability to waltz through to the knock stages only to blow the fuse when the silverware is in sight. The past must haunt this team as they begin their sojourn to complete the jigsaw puzzle, to win an ICC major event, to shake off the chokers tag bestowed on them.

The baby faced Quinton de Kock packs a punch and provides an attacking option for the Proteas right at the top. Complementing him is the serene Hashim Amla who can play the anchor role on the Bangladeshi pitches so that others can relentlessly attack around him. AB de Villiers is one of the most complete batsmen going around at the moment and he will need to be at his best. He can manipulate the field at will and once he gets going there is practically no stopping him. Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and David Miller are all capable of upping the ante and their services will be called upon to close out the innings.

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel both sat out of the recent T20 series against Australia due to injuries but they are expected to be back. One out of Wayne Parnell and Lonwabo Tsotsobe will provide the left arm variation. Imran Tahir will lead the spin attack and though he can run through teams but he can be highly generous with his economy rates on most occasions. JP Duminy will provide back up for him.

They will face stiff opposition from both New Zealand and the Sri Lankans in their quest to making the knock out stage. They have the fiendish ability to stutter, stumble and collapse like a drunken man out on a wild night. Will they be able to overcome the recent poor form and the history of their glorified shortcomings or will they choke again?

Team Rating – 7/10
  • Sri Lanka

The Lankans are the epitome of consistency but how their fans must hate them for that. Finalists of the 50 Over ICC World Cups in 2007 and 2011, finalists of the ICC WT20 in 2009 and 2012, but nothing to show for in the trophy cabinet. They suffer from the finals hoodoo and the spell was recently broken when they won the Asia Cup and returned home to endearing fans lined up in the streets welcoming them. The Sri Lankan boards is one of the most demonic cricketing boards going around, the Lankans players are embroiled in a contracts issue with them even as they prepare to leave their country to arrive in Bangladesh.

Dilshan, their dynamic opener is nursing a broken thumb and his participation is in doubt. If he fails to recover then I would assume they will open with the experienced Jayawardena with Kusal Janith Perera. Perera is already been talked about as the next Jayasuriya and he does seem to have modeled his batting on that of the now Sri Lankan Chief Selector. Sangakkara is someone who has improved his attacking game by leaps and bounds and he will be a vital cog in their batting line up. They have a slew of all rounders in Thisara Perera, Angelo Mathews, Chaturanga de Silva and Sachithra Senanayake who can all blast bowling attacks to shreds as well as bowl their overs economically. Surprisingly, their captain Chandimal, super talented no doubt from what I have seen of him is woefully out of form.

The bowling is manned by Lasith Malinga whose variations are yet to be deciphered by other teams and he still has the ability to win matches single handedly in a matter of overs. Then there is Ajantha Mendis, the mystery spinner whose tricks are no less obscured but he is still a mighty potent force to reckon with on the Bangladeshi pitches.

I think that the Sri Lankans will once again do well at the WT20 2014. They are the form team having spent close to two months in Bangladesh recently and winning all the games. Can they give their fans a truly memorable moment to celebrate?

Team Rating – 8.5/10

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review of Group 1 for the WT20 2014 – Part 1, England and New Zealand

The teams that make up the Group 1 – England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Qualifier B1

  • England

The English Cricket team is going through a rough phase. To say that they are the least expected team among the top 8 nations to win the WT20 2014 would not be an understatement. A traumatic Ashes debacle ended with the sacking of their charismatic coach - Andy Flower, the mid series retirement of their premier spin bowler – Greame Swann and the unsavory episode of their talismanic batsman Kevin Pietersen being forced to retire. The only good thing that happened on that disastrous tour – Ben Stokes, decided to slam the team locker after his own horror tour of the West Indies and that was the end of that, his WT20 ended even before it had begun.

The English openers Lumb and Hales are far from satisfying their critics even though they have been a part of the set up since quite some time now. Luke Wright and Eoin Morgan must fire for the England batting to be able to post any kind of total which approaches respectability. Jos Buttler and Ravi Bopara can provide the finishing touches but it remains to be seen how quickly the English batsman adapt to these Bangladeshi conditions.

The bowling will be led by their captain Stuart Broad but he is himself nursing an injury and it is unclear at this moment if he will even be a part of the team. The spin attack is led by James Tredwell, who is a defensive option to say the least. On the slow decks, England will surely miss an attacking spin option. Jade Dernbach and Chris Jordan are known to be expensive so the bowling stocks of this team look threadbare.

Overall, I feel that it will be a mighty uphill task for the England Cricket Team to even reach the Semi-Finals. I do not see them reaching the knock out stages and they will do well to even get a win or two under their belt.

Team Rating – 4/10

  • New Zealand

The New Zealand team is known to fire in the ICC events. They gel together like no other team does and fights tooth and nail with every opponent. They throw themselves around, the close in fielders start to hunt in packs to stop a run here, to effect a run out there and they back each other at all times. They inevitably reach the knock out stages snaring out some more fancied teams in the process.

The Kiwi batting is packed with explosive fire power. Their captain Brendon McCullum leads the way with his pyrotechnics. There is Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill who can both be equally devastating when they get going. Then there is the latest wonder kid, Corey Anderson, who recently slammed the fastest ODI hundred in just 36 balls against the West Indies earlier this year. And one would ignore Luke Ronchi and Jimmy Neesham at their own peril, both of whom are clean strikers of the ball.

The New Zealand bowling has some X-factor too with Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee and Trent Boult all capable of delivering match winning spells. They are experts at bowling yorkers and can crank up the speed guns too! Nathan McCullum provides the spin option with his fast off breaks. Spin is one department that I feel that the team lacks quality in, but they have plenty of other ammunition to cover up for it.

I feel that the New Zealand team has the potential to go all the way this time around if they fire collectively.

Team Rating – 8/10

Do you agree with my reviews of these two teams? What are your opinions?

Also read the Review of Group 1 for WT20 2014 – Part 2, South Africa and Sri Lanka

Saturday, March 15, 2014

ICC WT20 2014 begins tomorrow in Bangladesh

From tomorrow the blue eyed kid of the cricketing fraternity will be out there again to woo spectators from all around the globe again. The slam bang wallop version begins tomorrow. Yes, the WT20 2014 begins tomorrow in Bangladesh.

It will be a ten team event this time around with the top eight teams get direct entries. Two teams will be chosen from a qualifying round (it comprises eight teams).

The two Qualifying Groups are as under
  • Qualifying Group A – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nepal.
  • Qualifying Group B – Ireland, Netherlands, UAE, Zimbabwe.
The top team from each group will have earned its right to play against the top boys.

The Qualifying Group A seems to me to be the group of death. Afghanistan is a team that has shown tremendous potential and they can usurp any team on their day. Hong Kong has won both their warm up games and hence must be high on confidence. They will also be excited as this will be their first showing on the global arena. Bangladesh will have the boisterous home support, no doubt, but then we all know that playing at home is a double edged sword. There will be enormous pressure on them to at least qualify for the main draw.

Qualifying Group B seems a bit easier as Netherlands is looking rusty. The Ireland and Zimbabwe match will in all probability decide this group’s topper but then it’s easy to slip against any team in this shorter format and they will do well to not get complacent.

The Complete Schedule for the ICC WT20 2014 Qualifying Round is given below:

A 16.03.2014 Bangladesh v Afghanistan
A 16.03.2014 Hong Kong v Nepal
B 17.03.2014 Ireland v Zimbabwe
B 17.03.2014 Netherlands v UAE
A 18.03.2014 Afghanistan v Hong Kong
A 18.03.2014 Bangladesh v Nepal
B 19.03.2014 Netherlands v Zimbabwe
B 19.03.2014 Ireland v UAE
A 20.03.2014 Afghanistan v Nepal
A 20.03.2014 Bangladesh v Hong Kong
B 21.03.2014 Zimbabwe v UAE
B 21.03.2014 Ireland v Netherlands

The main draw starts from the 21st of March when arch rivals India take on Pakistan.

The teams in the main groups are divided as follows:
  • Group 1 – England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Winner from Qualifying Group B.
  • Group 2 – Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Winner from Qualifying Group A.
Both the groups seem well balanced but the Group 2 seems just that tad much tougher. The top 2 teams from each group will advance through to the Semi Finals.

The Schedule for the ICC WT20 2014 Group Stages is as given under:

2 21.03.2014 India v Pakistan
1 22.03.2014 Sri Lanka v South Africa
1 22.03.2014 England v New Zealand
2 23.03.2014 Australia v Pakistan
2 23.03.2014 India v West Indies
1 24.03.2014 New Zealand v South Africa
1 24.03.2014 Sri Lanka v (Qualifier B1)
2 25.03.2014 West Indies v (Qualifier A1)
1 27.03.2014 South Africa v (Qualifier B1)
1 27.03.2014 England v Sri Lanka
2 28.03.2014 Australia v West Indies
2 28.03.2014 India v (Qualifier A1)
1 29.03.2014 New Zealand v (Qualifier B1)
1 29.03.2014 England v South Africa
2 30.03.2014 Pakistan v (Qualifier A1)
2 30.03.2014 Australia v India
1 31.03.2014 England v (Qualifier B1)
1 31.03.2014 New Zealand v Sri Lanka
2 01.04.2014 Australia v (Qualifier A1)
2 01.04.2014 Pakistan v West Indies
Semi-Finals 03.04.2014 Group 1 (1) v Group 2 (2)
Semi-Finals 04.04.2014 Group 2 (1) v Group 1 (2)
Finals 06.04.2014 Winner of Semi-Finals 1 v Winner of Semi Finals 2
Reserved Day 07.04.2014

  • On days all days when 2 matches are scheduled the first match will start at 3 PM IST and the second match begins at 7 PM IST.
  • On the 21st of March there are 3 matches scheduled with the first one starting at 11 AM IST. The timing of the remaining two matches remains the same as given above.
  • There is only one match scheduled on the 25th of March which will start at 7 PM IST.
  • Both the Semi Finals and the Finals will begin at 6.30 PM IST.
  • All the Group 1 matches will be held at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong while all the Group 2 matches will take place at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. Both the Semi Finals and the Final will also be held at the same venue.
I hope I will be able to cover the WT20 2014 with the same vigor that I covered the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Stay Tuned, there is a lot more coming up here on the Cricket Wise!!