Wednesday, October 3, 2012

T20 World Cup - Semis Line up....

So the semifinals have been lined up.....barring a small blip, most of it was expected & on cards.
Its going to be hosts Sri Lanka against the most inconsistent Pakistan & the other between the mavericks West Indies pitted against a resurgent Australia.

With India edged out by Pakistan on net run rate, there seems to be a cloud of gloom overcast.......with the ever emotional fans feeling let down, the sponsors experiencing a dip in their money churners. However, I would have been surprised if India had managed to reach the last four stage. The team did not inspire confidence. In batting the top order was struggling, with Gambhir woefully out of form & Sehwag carrying niggles....barring Virat Kohli at no 3, who is in golden nick right now, everyone else has been struggling. Yuvi, is yet to regain his silken touch & obviously so, though he has demonstrated flashes of that, Raina, Dhoni, Rohit(its really amazing how many chances he is getting & making a mess of it!!, all this when a quality batsman like Manoj Tiwary is wasted in the bench)....all struggling to make it count. In bowling, Zaheer has been good in patches & Irfan has contributed in bits & pieces.....Ashwin, Bhajji, Balaji, Chawla....all seem to lack consistency, in length, line, accuracy, short looking patchy. Fielding has always been a concern area, & Dhoni behind stumps has been all the team did not look a winner, despite being one of the best on paper. What added to the woes has been suspect & unimaginative captaincy by Dhoni, with no plan B or C to counter opposition.....also there seemed to be an air of arrogant confidence, which can be harmful at times. Barring the match against Pakistan( it was a battle of nerves & Pakistan self destructed themselves) & England(practice match)....India looked suspect. Time for men in Blue to take a hard call......

South Africa, New Zealand & England were the other big names eliminated in Super Eight matches. The Proteas, have been surprisingly timid & uncertain....they have probably one of the best squads for T20 format today......the team is full of match winners & yet they lost all their matches....they need to certainly look at the mental built up, as they are probably the best in talent & capabilities....its sad to see them lose like this. I for one thought, they will make it to the finals, at least !!! ( how woefully wrong one goes in predicting cricket results...)
Kiwis, have been an average team & they still gave their opponents a run for the they can go back satisfied with their performance. The Barmy army English side, the current T20 holders, also lacked depth & experience. With Pieterson & Trott missing their line up, the team never looked a champion side. Also Stuart Broad has to mature as a captain.....

Coming to the semis, I would believe that Sri Lanka would start favourites against the Pakistan. Their batting looks solid with Dilshan, Mahela & Sanga on top & Mathews, Thirimanne, Mendis chipping useful contributions. Bowling is suddenly looking very sharp with Ajantha Mendis finding form, and Malinga & Kulasekara managing death overs......the fielding solid as ever.....this team is now looking good to go all the way. They have not won a World cup since '96, though they have been in finals, & at in front of the home crowd, they have all the arsenal to be the Champions. The Colombo pitch favors spinners, & that should make the Lankans feel good.....also, they play spin as good as anybody in the world, especially at home.
Pakistan on the other hand, are suspect of consistency.....they came from near death to defeat South Africa & then lost timidly to India only to bounce back & beat the Aussies(something not even their most ardent fan  could have imagined). Their batting looks patchy & revolves around no one, though on paper, its a long line up.....the bowling department, however looks good & imaginative, with Ajmal, Raja Hasan, Afridi, Gul & Razzaq....if they win, it will be because of their bowling.....
I will still go with the Lankans to overcome the Pakistani attack.

The second semis between the Aussies & the Windies would be an interesting battle. The Australians have looked top heavy with too much reliance on Watson, Warner & Hussey....once these three go, the rest look quite suspect & the match against Pakistan exposed this. However, Watson & Warner are capable of winning matches completely on their own...Watson has been the player of this tournament till now...both with the bat & the ball. The Aussie bowling attack is pacy & disciplined.... with Cummins & Starc bowling express pace along with Watson & Doherty & Hogg bringing in spin. They prefer chasing totals......but if the top order can be breached early, they look suspects, & that is what the Windies think tank should focus on.
The West Indies, have Gayle upfront who can tear into any bowling almost at will.....he has Charles upfront & then Samuels who has been in good nick...there is also Bravo, Pollard, Sammy, each capable of healthy contributions with the willow. Bowling is a bit patchy, with Edwards & Rampaul being wayward & leaking runs.....Sammy & Samuels have been erratic & the mystery bowler Narine not yet in his best, I would expect them to play Badree at the expense of a pacer,as he adds depth in the spin deptt.....the Windies are  known to self destruct & take things easy & celebrate before crossing the line....they will have to be very disciplined to beat this Aussie squad......they have the talent & the firepower....they need to play to potential to emerge winners.
I would like to believe that the Windies can, least in this format they have a very good chance....time will of now let me look forward to Caribbean cricket....a La Gayle storm.