Let us allow our imaginations to lunge big and let us envision something unknown. A cricketer with all the elements of success. One who can do no wrong, someone extremely powerful who hits each ball for a six, a super mystery blower and a lightening fast and safe fieldsman. A dream, someone we can call the World T20 Superman :) !!! Scroll down to see how he looks…
Last but not by any stretch of imagination the least. We so eagerly waited for this day all through the last three weeks and really, what better we could have asked for; it was all worth the wait and here it is – the ICC World Twenty20 final, so beautifully setup.
Yes we can go by the old cliché that the best two teams of the tournament have qualified and in fact that wouldn’t be incorrect to say. But this time we can make one other statement too, that the two most distinct teams have made it to the finals. Look closely and you will see how distinct these two sides are in nature, their approach to the game, body language, stroke-making and attitude. While the Sri Lankans would nudge and slice, West Indies would seek to impose their power on the bowling, while Sri Lankans would be restrained, West Indians would be as flamboyant as it gets and while for celebrations Sri Lankans prefer cheers, high-fives and hugs the West Indians would go the ‘Gangnam’ style.
At the beginning of the tournament Sri Lankans to an extent were favourites to make it to the finals, given the nature of the pitches and overall home advantage. But Windies have definitely surprised some, and what a pleasant surprise; one that goes by as ‘one of the best’ cricket surprises of recent times. One wonders sometimes that if you take sides like West Indies out of the game or for that matter when sides like West Indies aren’t performing, how much charm the game loses. Yes, there still will be cricket but not as good-looking as with the West Indies performing. Of course, professional sports requires professional sportsmen playing in a professional mode, but make no mistake, end of the day these ‘sportsmen’ are humans and the spectators who come out to watch their sport are humans too and that is why the sport requires human element – the one with lot of emotions and little less out rightly ‘professional’. And this make us think, with this particular qualification West Indies has given a major face-lift to the modern day cricket and international cricket for its own sake requires, if fact really requires, West Indies to do well.
Well, if we talk about the contest tonight, it is going to be an excellent one. Both sides have their strengths and shades of weaknesses and its all about rising to the occasion. Chris Gayle we all know would be a big-big factor and he can make or break it. At post match presentation in the Australia game he made a very clear statement, where he said – we love Sri Lanka a lot, but we are sorry, the cup is oursJ. So Sri Lankans – get this man early if you want the crowds at Premadasa to dance tonight, else he and the other big boys around him are going to dance the ‘Gangnam’ style all through the night!
Eight out of twelve have boarded a flight back home. Few expected and few not as much have made an exit at the super eight stage. And so, as we enter the final leg of the tournament we let ourself free fall, because anyways, anticipating what shall happen from here on is just not possible…let’s sit back and enjoy it.
Aahh, the knockouts, the sudden death and a hell lot of excitement that they promise. We did see some twists and turns all through the tournaments but one can argue that the best four sides have reached the semi-finals. So here is what we looking at – hosts Sri Lanka play a very unpredictable Pakistan in the first semi-final on Thursday and on Friday flamboyant West Indies take on a little shaken Australia. Sri Lankans look the best of these four, better balanced, carrying good momentum and they look like winning this one more than the others; of course they are playing at home so that would be added advantage, make no mistake – crowd will be behind them, absolutely, and do watch out for the numerous brass bands.
Their opponent in the semis, Pakistan, is the only team to make it to the last four in all the editions of ICC World T20 and that to an extent tells that their game is well suited for this format. Last time in St. Lucia, at the same stage in the tournament, they were shocked by a flurry from Mr. Cricket – Mike Hussey. This time they would want to turn it around.
West Indies seem to be going great and are in with a very strong chance. They face the Aussies for the second time in this tournament and would want to finish this one with the beautiful Gangnam dance. They have some big match winners in that side who are quite capable of destroying any attack on their day.
Lastly, let’s talk about the Australians. Well, this is the only championship that they are yet to champion and they would so want to win it. In fact, this time around they look like winning it too, a side that is quite balanced with a good mix of some very big hitter and T20 specialists. They were on a roll with the two Ws, Watson and Warner, blazing all guns but that Pakistan match has disturbed their rhythm a bit. That said, Australia is a very professional side and should be able to put that defeat out of their system when they take field against the Windies on Friday.
Fasten your seat belts folks, because from here, its gonna really launch!!!
What promised to be an intense romantic tale turned out to be a sorry one-sided affair. Of all the times that India and Pakistan have clashed in the recent past, this one stands out as the most lacklustre display by Pakistan. Nerves got better of them yet again and they were spooked enough to throw it away without showing any real resistance. Pakistan were at their “anxious best” and that pretty much describes the day for them. More than anyone else it was the skipper Mohd. Hafeez who went into his shell and never really came out till there were no more Indians left at the Premadasa.
Virat played a beautiful and commanding innings yet again and it is hard to find a better batsman around. All due credit to him for his performance but for Pakistan the match was lost even before Virat took guard. The way Pakistan batsmen batted is hard to explain. They made part-timers look like genuine bowlers who could do no wrong, Yuvraj in particular. Yuvraj bowled a good spell but in between he bowled numerous half-trackers which were punched to extra-cover or third-man for singles. On another day these were six hitting deliveries, right over mid-wicket, at least 85 meters; ask Shane Watson and he would know.
Afridi’s promotion didn’t make sense at all given the fact that he is seriously out of form and has turned into a bowler who can (read may), bat a bit. Also, with him coming at 3, the overall batting order gets skewed and someone like an Umar Akmal then has to walk in at 7, well, you don’t want your class A batsman bat that low, do you. In T20 you cannot have people who chew up deliveries at the top; that puts tremendous pressure on the middle and lower order.
Another strategic error that Pakistan management has made in this tournament is leaving out a match winner of the class of Abdur Razzaq. He, in matter of few overs can turn a match on its head. Also, with his experience he can bring some calm to this highly effervescent Pakistan side that can so easily fall apart in crunch matches. They are one side who really need someone to ease out the things a little. Razzaq can be the man for this job.
India held their nerves and thus emerged winner. There is something special about this Indian side; with skills they have the temperament to conquer big matches. Both India and Pakistan have one game each to go in the Super-eights and these are must win games for them. India seems to be on a roll after this win and looks like beating South Africa. Pakistan however have to be back with their A game to be able to fight a tough Australian side on the Super-Tuesday.
Day 1 of the Super Eights at ICC World Twenty20, and all of a sudden one feels how beautifully and fittingly written are these lines from Urdu poetry – “Aghaz aisa hai to Anjaam kaisa hoga” (if such is the inception, well, what to expect in the end). ICC World Twenty20 2012 has started to come into its own; super eights on day 1 itself has announced a cricket bonanza, which is ready to unwrap in the next two weeks – big time.
Game 1 of the Super eights between Sri Lanka and New Zealand went to super over after the scores ended in a tie. At one stage when Sri Lanka was chasing, around the 17th over, they were looking like chasing the target easily but some really good seam bowling by the Kiwis lead by Tim Southee made a match of it. Eventually however, a brilliant catch from Dilshan turned the fortunes in Sri Lanka’s favour and made sure they got the first two points.
In game 2, the West Indies showed why they are a big contender to win this edition. All through the 40 overs, what stood out was the West Indian spirit. There was no pressure on them whatsoever. They are one side who truly enjoy their game; the dance moves and the run out warnings from the very special Chris Gayle were titillating enough to make you dance along as well.
England looked a bit out of sorts. Though a late burst from Eoin Morgan who went at a strike rate of almost 200 did bring some hope to the Englishmen but his lone effort wasn’t enough. The surprising thing about the English chase was that they only lost four wickets, which means that they had set batsmen at the crease during their chase, and this to an extent raises some doubts on Alex Hales’s ability to pace his innings. Hales scored 68 from 51 balls and that, for an opener, as per the modern standards is somewhat on the slower side, given the fact that he stayed at the crease for almost the whole course of English innings and that too on the Pallekele batting paradise.
Overall, day 1 was full of excitement with two sides who did their basics better than the other two ending up on the winning side. Day 2 brings us two other very big and important group 2 games from Premadasa, Colombo. South Africa takes on Pakistan in the first of these, so be ready for the all greens battle and the battle of South African pace and Pakistan’s spin. Then late evening, India plays Australia which is a big-big game; the war of words have already begun and the sides are raring to go. The coming week promises a lot and it can only get better from here.
Alright…So all of you thought till ‘Super Eights’ things would be nice, calm and easy, teams can sing lullabies to each other, try different combinations in order to identify their best eleven and that there won’t be too many twists in the tale. Well, for some teams these imaginations did realize, but fairly tales aren’t told in the ‘group of death’ and here we are ready to witness this face-off tonight; which is all but comfortable for the two sides involved.
Bangladesh would take on Pakistan in last of the Group ‘D’ games (it also happens to be the last game in the ‘Group Stage’), that the ‘Bangla Tigers’ must win and win handsomely to be able to advance into the ‘Super Eights’. Here is the magnitude of this handsomeness – Bangladesh, in case they bat first, must win this game by a margin of at least 36 runs to better Pakistan on net run-rate. If they win by exact 36 runs they would still advance because they’ll be one up head-to-head. If however they happen to chase, number of overs that they’ll get to chase and advance would depend upon how much can Pakistan put on the board. For instance, if Pakistan sets them a target of 150, they must chase it down in 15.4 overs or less. Looks really tough given the way both sides have gone till now in this tournament, but who knows; one good innings or a deadly spell from someone.
If we briefly look at the teams, both sides have match winners on them. For Bangladesh Shakib-Al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim can spring a surprise with the bat plus they have some good spinners, their fielding is also very good. Pakistan on the other hand looks better balanced, with their bowling arguably the best of the lot; Saeed Ajmal – the magician, Umal Gul and Shahid Afridi can trouble any batting line-up; and their batting is also coming good of late. Nasir Jamshed in particular is a very good addition to the side. He is a guy to watch out for; his lofted sixes over extra-cover against the Kiwis were spectacular.
For records, of the 44 times these two sides have met, Bangladesh has won only once; that was in the 1999 ICC World Cup. So, Pakistan start as clear favorites but for sure they’ll be under lot of pressure; we know what sort of situation that infamous 1999 loss resulted in; and what we also know is – there is no reason it won’t repeat if they lose tonight.
They are a tough team, look balanced, have multiple match winners and are a strong contender to win this edition of ICC World Twenty20. Yet, amidst all this, a loss tonight and they could be boarding a flight back to the Caribbean. After losing to the Aussies last Saturday on Duckworth-Lewis, when it rained heavily at Premedasa, West Indies face a must win situation against Ireland. No doubt they’ll come hard at the Irish but in T20 cricket you never know, remember, no underdogs!
If we look at the other groups, they all are more or less decided. So we know which teams from those groups are going to be in the super eights, except may be a potential upset if Pakistan loses heavily to Bangladesh, though that seems highly unlikely; Pakistan has looked good. In group B however we are looking at this do or die game. The question to be asked is – Can West Indies handle these two tonight: ‘pressure of a must-win game’ and ‘the Irish zeal for glory’.
Well, if we compare the two sides and their current form, Windies are a clear winner. The way they batted against Australia was superb and if they can repeat that against Ireland they definitely are a huge challenge for the Iris. They have the big power players in the likes of Gayle, Smith, and Pollard along with the T20 specialist Bravo. Their bowling probably needs a bit of attention as against the Aussies their bowlers gave away too many easy runs. They have to mark their areas to ball; experimenting too much can be risky. They may also consider playing an extra bowler that can bring some balance to their bowling attack; currently they bank extremely heavily on Sunil Narine.
Irish on the other hand have nothing to lose. Though they too are aiming for a super eight spot, the amount of pressure on them in not as much. Even if they put up just about decent performance they should be happy on their way back home. But mind you, they are capable of more; England and Pakistan can tell you that from their past experiences :). Kevin O’Brien is one guy in their ranks who can really turn it on.
Overall if West Indies can do the basics right, not take too much pressure and play their top game they should win, else we are looking at something very exciting in Colombo tonight.
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!
Kamran Akmal is back in the Pakistan’s squad for the ICC World Twenty20, 2012. The tournament begins on September 18th, 2012. Kamran hasn’t played for Pakistan for over an year now, his last international appearance was in the ICC world cup 2011.
His inclusion would definitely strengthen Pakistan’s batting that is going through a bad phase. This return however has surprised a few because there wasn’t much clarity on his position with International Cricket Council (ICC). Akmal was sent a notice by ICC’s anti-corruption unit and he also got summoned by the integrity committee. He however claims that ICC has cleared him of all the charges.
Pakistan is in Group D with New Zealand and Bangladesh and they look strongest in their group. Two other players who have made a comeback are Abdur Razzaq and Imran Nazir. Nazir being an aggressive opening batsman would look to provide the innings with flying start and Razzaq who has always been a fine all-rounder, very dependable, on his comeback would want to make a point.
Other than India, England and Sri Lanka the team that looks like making an impact is Pakistan given their world class bowling and handy bits and pieces players who are relatively dangerous in the shorter format of the game.
It promises to be an exciting 20-day affair with some quick-fire batting, toe crushing Yorkers and acrobatic fielding displays. And lets not forget the colour and glamour around the ground :D !!!
Pakistan squad for the World Twenty20 2012 in Sri Lanka:
Mohammad Hafeez (Captain), Shoaib Malik, Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal (WK), Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir, Asad Shafiq, Raza Hasan, Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Sami, Sohail Tanveer, Umar Gul and Dave Whatmore (Coach)WW6PXY4QQTKV