As I am writing this, the very exciting T20 tournament is barely 23hrs and some minutes away from being underway in this very scenic and beautiful island country located in the Indian Ocean. Folks, get ready for some high voltage cricket, the ICC World Twenty20 is here. If some of you have happened to watch the warm-up games you very well know what exactly are we looking at. The warm-up games, where nothing much was at stake, didn’t really look like warm-ups; we saw some very close games, with teams operating at high intensities, wanting to win to gain early momentum…and let me tell you, this tournament is setup quite nicely.
Few years ago when T20 Cricket hit the scene, fans and experts around the world wouldn’t have envisioned it to grow to its current stature. As it stands today, it is no less. The 4thedition of ICC World Twenty20 promises to be gem of a tournament and at the inception it looks so very balanced.
Over the years we have grown up watching sides play each other and invariably, before a particular match, we kind of know the stronger of two sides. With T20s, that has changed enormously. There are NO underdogs now. In the modern day T20s the side that plays better on the day has a huge chance of winning. The format is such, that few overs, a little cameo or an individual brilliance can change the course of a match.
No, we are not writing off the good sides, neither are we challenging the conventional wisdom that if one has to choose between two sides he can; of the two sides, one would have an edge over the other. We however are certainly telling this – ‘this format is not just for the elite’.
The reality is, when you have lesser time on hand, or let us say when you are in a format that requires a team to spend relatively smaller amount of time in the middle, which are basically fewer overs, the skills that really matter to win a game are so much different. Not to disparage good batting and bowling, but a lot of ‘other’ elements come into play and thus, its a totally different ball game.
A ‘Dilshan Scoop’, a ‘Warner’s swich-hit’ or an ‘Ajmal’s teesra’ are some of these ‘other’ elements. And these are the elements that make this format so awesomely fascinating to watch. Run-a-ball is a thing of past. If you are not going at a strike rate of over 130-135 you stand a decent chance of getting dropped the next game. Fast good length balls are not good enough; they are ‘meat and wine’. A T20 bowler must have multiple variations. A slower off-cutter, a regular bouncer, a slow bouncer and a reverse swinging yorker makes a decent portfolio and that is why guys who possess them are extremely successful in this format, someone like an Umar Gul or Lasitha Malinga.
This is different folks and for sure it is immensely thrilling; you never know what to expect. It is this format where a 30-ball hundred isn’t really surprising.
The ICC World Twenty20 2012 announces – There aren’t any underdogs anymore!