Monday, March 14, 2016

World Cup T20 Cricket 2016 - Extravaganzaaaaa....

With rain playing spoilsport for most of the qualifying matches, the World Cup T20, is now set for all the extravaganza. Lets do a quick analysis of the ten teams vying for the coveted trophy.

Group 1 has West Indies, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka & Afghanistan.
Group 2 has India, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand & Bangladesh.

West Indies : Currently ranked no 2, the mercurial team from the Caribbeans, has been in crisis for the past few months. The Board & the players disrupting over match fees has seriously dented the morale. On top of that impact players like Narine ( suspect action) & Pollard deciding to stay away, would certainly take the sheen off the capabilities. However, the champions of 2012 edition, as a team still has enough fire power to go the distance. Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels at the top can decimate any attack, While Dwayne Bravo, Sammy, Andre Russel can tear apart all the bowlers at the middle & lower end of the batting. This team bats real deep, & on their day, they can topple any score. The players are excellent fielders too & can make impossible catches look easy. Their bowling department does look a little wobbly & the loss of Narine is going to hurt them. I still believe, this team is the dark horse of the competition, & can make it to the semis.

South Africa : Currently ranked no 3, the eternal chokers of this game, especially in big tournaments, the Proteas have something to prove to themselves. Its going to be their self belief at crucial stages of the tournament that will determine their chances of lifting the Cup. They have one of the best batting line ups in the tournament. With AB DeVilliers, Faf du Plessis, de Kock, Hashim Amla, Duminy, David Miller, Behardien, the list of batters is absolutely endless. To add to that  are all rounders like Chris Morris, David Wiese & Abbot lower down. The bowling too looks formidable with Styen, Rabada, Morkel, for sheer pace, Tahir, Phangiso for quality spinning, the team is stupendous on paper. This team should go the least till the semis. They provide with such entertainment, that every cricket loving fan would pray for their performance. Fingers crossed.

England : The team currently ranked no 6, under Eoin Morgan, is quite capable of springing a few surprises. They have players like Butler, Ben Stokes, Hales who can belt any attack & one their day chase any target. But, the team lacks consistency & may struggle in bowling especially against quality batting. I personally dont see them making it to the last four.

Sri Lanka : Currently ranked no 8, the defending Champions, look a depleted force. They are yet to find adequate replacements to Sangakkara & Jayawardane, & Dilshan is clearly over the hill. Malinga, too has been carrying niggles & may not be fit enough the lead the attack. In Mathews, Chandimal, a couple of new comers, the team is gradually shaping up, but, I dont see them making an impact in this edition. The recent losses to India, Pakistan & Bangladesh in Asia Cup would also haunt them, as they struggle to find the rhythm. I would be happy to see them win a couple of good games.

Afghanistan : Currently ranked at no 9, the minnows have done themselves proud by qualifying for the main round, going past Zimwabwe, & winning thier matches in style. The pace attack in Zadran & Hassan look promising, & they should be putting up a fighting display. They have already earned the respect from the playing teams, & should use this platform to improve their rankings ahead.

India : Currently ranked no 1, the host nation look overwhelming favorites to win this tournament. The recent winning of Asia Cup emphatically, defeating the mighty Aussies 3-0 in their backyard, blowing away Sri Lanka, all this has added to the imagination of the billion plus fans following across all the nooks & corners of India. The batting line up is awe inspiring. Rohit, Dhawan, Virat, Raina, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pandya, Jadeja, Ashwin....its just unending. Then you have Nehra, Bumrah to bring up the bowling....piercing & effective. The bench is equally strong in Rahane, Harbhajan, Yadav, & others. Its an extremely competent & strong team in all functions - batting, bowling, fielding.....& then you have the inspiring captaincy by Dhoni. The only flaw I see in this team is becoming self destructive in the underlying overconfidence, & this could be the deciding factor between winning hands down & letting victory slip away. The pressures of expectations from all & sundry would also add up to the pot boiler. I however, see them make it to the semis at least. However, the opening game against the Kiwis will set up the tone. India has never won against the Kiwis, & if they cross this tricky hurdle, they should qualify to the semis.

Australia : Currently ranked 5, the Aussies are a formidable team as usual. They have not won this edition of the game yet, & would be hungry to prove their mettle. The team under Smith looks composed & mean. The recent win over the Proteas would do their confidence a world of good. Finch, Watson, Smith, Warner, Maxwell, Khawaja, Marsh, Faulkner - its a super super line up, capable of tearing apart any bowling. The team also has brilliant fielders, but what they lack is quality bowling. With no Starc, Cummins, etc, the pace looks brittle, & without a quality spinner, the team might struggle to contain a top batting line up. However, the team has been shaping well, & I expect them to make it to the semis at least.

New Zealand : The Kiwis are currently ranked no 4, & are quite a formidable side for this format, Having lost Brendon McCullum may hurt them eventually, but under Ken Williamson, the team looks solid. Martin Guptill, Taylor, Corey Anderson, Elliott, Munro, Luke Ronchi, all capable hitters, & then they have the surprise element in Santner & the Indian origin Sodhi - both quality spinners who should make an impression in the subcontinent pitches. This team has always been the dark horse & I wont be surprised if they topple some of the favourites & make it to the semis. They certainly have the firepower to do so. The recent retirement of Mccullum could hurt them, as would the unfortunate demise of Martin Crowe. But then, this could also inspire the team to play out of their skin & create sensational upsets.

Pakistan : Currently ranked no 7, this team has an enviable pace attack in Md Aamir, Irfan & Wahab Riaz, which can decimate any batting line up. The trouble for them would be the batting which has been inconsistent & vulnerable. Hopefully Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik find their touch with the willow & provide entertainment to the crowds. However, I dont see them making it to the last four.

Bangladesh : They are currently ranked no 10, & have qualified to the main round with relative ease. The team has done well in the recent Asia Cup, reaching the finals, defeating more fancied teams like Pakistan & Sri Lanka. The tam under Mashrafe Mortaza, looks good to spring a couple of surprises. Tamim Iqbal has already stroked a century in the qualifying games, & Shabbir Ahmed, Mahmadullah, Shakib ul Hassan are all capable of impacting big wins against stronger teams.

The next couple of weeks would be smashing cricket....the Indian turf promising high scoring games & almost every Indian keeping awake into late night, cheering for yet another World Cup triumph....
Will it or will it not........... let the games unfold & the may the best team win....