Monday, March 28, 2016

World Cup T20 : Business End preview

I was out for the last three days, & missed covering the matches.......there was poor connectivity. There have been a few hiccups, & some upsets, as  the tournament has moved into the business end, with semifinal line up clear.... Its now New Zealand vs England in the 1st semis & then, West Indies vs India in the 2nd semis.

Of the four, England is probably the surprise element. They have been playing out of their skin & have been improving with every game. After Chris Gayle century demolished them in the first game, they looked done & dusted. But, credit to their resilience & belief, they scaled the near impossible chase of 230 runs to snatch a miraculous win against South Africa & that brought them right back in the tournament. In Joe Root, they have a breath of fresh air & confidence that rubs into the whole unit. Roy at the top has been giving brilliant starts, & then the bowling as an unit has been delivering. The team is looking good & hungry for more. Under Morgan, the team looks well connected. They certainly are the surprise team in the last four.....very few, even in England would have believed in this success.

Windies have been their mercurial best. They demolished, England first, then toppled South Africa & Sri Lanka, only to take things easy & lose to minnows Afghanistan. That too, after restricting them to 123 runs. Typical Caribbean, always brimming with laughter, fun & frolic. Playing with disdain & clobbering opponents at will. This team is combining well, despite absence of Narine & Pollard. Badree & Benn have been managing the spin very well & Gayle, Samuels, Bravo, Fletcher, all have contributed handsomely  with the bat. Even Braithwaite hitting Rabada for a six in the chase against South Africa in a tight game, was testimony to their capabilities to pull the rabbit out & win crunch situations. They now take on a resurgent India, the hosts. This will be their biggest challenge thus far in the tournament, as India is now looking very good, after their majestic win over the Aussies to clinch the final berth in the last four.

New Zealand, have been the proverbial underdogs. They have come up as a super unit, winning all their games....defeating heavyweights like India, Pakistan & Australia with ease. They have defended their totals well & the surprise element has been their spin department, which has blossomed in this tournament. Williamson has been inventive in his captaincy, & every member of the playing eleven has contributed. It has been a team game all through. They take on England, which has managed upsets to earn their berth in the last four & would be a tough side to compete against. However, both the teams play keeping emotions aside, & that could give a completely new dimension to the contest. The 1st semis between these two teams could be a tall scoring affair.

India, were the pre tournament favourites, but after their upset loss to the Kiwis in the very first game, there was immense pressure on the Men in Blue. The next match against arch rivals Pakistan was an acid test in Kolkata, which they crossed over convincingly in the end, thanks to Virat & his run chasing abilities. But then, against Bangladesh, they almost lost the plot & the game, but the it was Bangladesh who lost nerve & basics to lose from the brinks of victory....something that will rankle them for a long time to come. India, buoyed by this victory went on to finally demolish the Aussies, in a run chase that will etch in the memory of all Indian fans for generations. It was a Virat show again, as he lynched the hapless Aussie bowling in a phenomenal batting display, as India booked the last slot for the semis.

I feel sorry for the South African team. Such a talented bunch, full of match winners, but breaking down in crunch situations. Their bowling has been extremely poor in this tournament & has let them down right through the tournament. They could not defend even a total of 230 against England, & they lost the plot in their campaign. Even against minnows Afghanistan, they struggled to defend a 200 + score, & then, against West Indies, they could not defend. Rabada, their prime pacer looked out of sorts, bowling without any plan or discipline, & Steyn was a sorry shadow of his prime. The South Africans probably need to work on their mental abilities as a team and find a way to confort in pressure situations. The team certainly deserves better accolades & performances in ICC tournaments.... the big stage.
Sri Lanka, the defending champions were a depleted side this time & but for some individual performances, there wa little to reckon with. Hopefully, they will return in the next edition with better performances.