Another World Cup is approaching – The swashbuckling twenty-over version – the Twenty20 World Cup.
In 2011, India beat Sri Lanka to lift the World Cup (50 over format). Dhoni was named the man-of-the-match and Yuvraj Singh man-of-the-series for his all-round performance.
India won the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in the year 2007. The team won the cup by beating Pakistan in the final. Then too, the captain was M.S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh made history by hitting six sixes in an over off the bowling of England's Stuart Broad.
According to the selectors, led by K. Srikkanth, the current team is the strongest ever. The team have a firm batting line-up with Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Raina, Dhoni in the ranks. The bowling department is led by Zaheer Khan with two quality off-spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Ashwin. For variation in spin, they also banked on Piyush Chawla. With Ravindra Jadeja (all-rounder) not in good form, the selectors have retained Irfan Pathan, a genuine fast-bowling all-rounder. Irfan Pathan has proved his skills in the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka.
The sub-continental tracks of Sri Lanka are familiar to the Indians. In the recently concluded ODI series (4-1) and Twenty20, India convincingly beat Sri Lanka in their own backyard.
The first edition of the championship was held in South Africa during September 11–24, 2007. It was Dhoni’s first assignment as captain. Who could forget the six sixes in an over hit by Yuvraj Singh off the bowling of England’s Stuart Broad. India won the final against Pakistan by five runs.
The second event was held in England during June 5-21, 2009. Pakistan won the tournament defeating Sri Lanka by 8 wickets. The third tournament was held in West Indies during April 30–May 16, 2010. England won its first ever ICC tournament by defeating Australia by 7 wickets.
This year the ICC returns to the sub-continent. The tournament will be held during September 18-October 7, 2012. The ICC has split the playing teams into four groups:
Group A: England, India and Afghanistan
Group B: Australia, West Indies and Ireland
Group C: South Africa, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe
Group D: New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh
The venues for the Twenty20 World cup in Sri Lanka are Hambantota, Colombo, Kandy. The venues are typical sub-continental pitches which will favour spin in the latter half of the tournament. The pitches may be batsmen-friendly but the bowling under lights will be a difficult one, if dew comes into play. If the dew factor doesn’t come into play, the captain who wins the toss will automatically elect to bat (according to the situation) and score some runs on the board. The sub-continental tracks will assist spin bowling as the ball will keep low and batting will be difficult.
This tournament will see some experienced captains and also some new captains.
Australia will be led by George Bailey who is new to international circuit but no stranger to the sub-continent as he plays for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. He is the second cricketer to be made a captain of an international team without representing his country in an international game. The previous one was Dave Gregory. The ACB chose Bailey in place of Cameron White only due to his achievements in the domestic circuit where he proved to be a good captain by winning the Sheffield Shield tournaments. Though new to international circuit, the other teams should not underestimate his cricketing and captaining skills.
England is led by Stuart Broad who is also rather new to captaincy. Broad will have a balanced side of experience and youth. But with one genuine spinner in Graeme Swann, Broad will be having a tough time in the sub-continental tracks. Broad will certainly miss the services of Kevin Pieterson who can tear any bowling apart on his day. England has won the last edition by beating Australia in the finals.
Pakistan’s captain Mohammed Hafeez will be leading a side of talented and experienced cricketers like Shahid Afridi, Imran Nazir, Abdul Razzak, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir. Pakistan on their day can demolish any side but their consistency remainsa big question. Hafeez is not a regular captain for Pakistan. But the Pakistan selectors have banked their faith in this talented all-rounder and we will have to wait and see whether he can lead from the front.
India will be led by M.S. Dhoni who is the most successful Indian captain. Dhoni led his team to victory in the inaugural edition. Under him, Chennai Super Kings has won the IPL (twice), the Champions League T20 (once) and the Indian team World Cup 2011 (50-over format). The team has many promising cricketers like Raina, Kohli and Yuvraj. It also has experienced campaigners like Sehwag, Gambhir and Zaheer Khan. Dhoni is rated one of the coolest captains in the world and is adept at handling pressure. He is one of the best finishers in this format of the game.
A.B. de Villiers will lead South Africa which has a combination of experienced and young players. De Villiers inin his day can tear any bowling apart in this format of the game and he proved that in thethe IPL. He has Kallis, Amla, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha and J.P. Duminy. These players are all good T20 players. The viewers will have interesting matches whenever South Africa plays against any opponents.
Mahela Jayawardene will lead an experienced Sri Lankan side. The team has capable players like Kumar Sangakkara, Dilshan, Lasith Malinga, Rengana Herath and Ajantha Mendis. Sri Lanka will have an added advantage of playing under the home conditions and will be backed heavily by the crowd. Mahela Jayawardene will have his task cut out to live up to the expectations of the audiences in Sri Lanka.
New Zealand will be led by Ross Taylor who is not new to this format of the game. Taylor has made many match-winning knocks in the IPL. The team is a mix of youth and experience. New Zealand has a very good spinner in Daniel Vettori. Even though New Zealand had not performed well in the last two series, it has a right mix of players at the moment.at the moment.
West Indies led by Darren Sammy has some hard-hitters in the team. Who can forget the six-hitting abilities of Chris Gayle in the IPL? The team also has Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo and Dwayne Bravo. West Indies is the most under-rated team in international circuit. It has the capabilities of beating any team in the world. Chris Gayle’s opening onslaught will help Darren Sammy’s men to have a longer run in the tournament.
Bangladesh, though under-rated, can dismantle any team in the world on their day. Led by Mushifur Rahim, Bangladesh has good players in their ranks including Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique and Shakib-al-hasan. The team has quality players who can make the opponents sweat it out.
Matches to watch:
In the Group stages, India will face England on September 23 in Colombo. India, under Dhoni starts as the favourites. India is fresh from winning the World Cup 2011 (50-ovcr format) in the familiar sub-continental tracks. England under Stuart Broad will have a new look team. Colombo under lights will be very difficult to chase runs. So the captain who wins the toss will certainly elect to bat first and first and defend a decent total. Given the dew factor the match can turn out to be an interesting contest. The sub-continental conditions, which aid spin, could prove tough for England. They have one genuine spinner in Graeme Swann. But India has the advantage as they have two genuine spinners in Ashwin and Harbhajan or Chawla apart from part-timers like Yuvraj, Sehwag and Raina. A really interesting match to catch on.
Another interesting match in the group stages will be will be South Africa versus Sri Lanka on September 22 at Hambantota. Playing against the home team South Africa will really have a match on their hands. But the likes of A.B. de Villiers, Kallis, J.P. Duminy and Johan Botha (who have played in IPL) will give the Lankans a run for their money. The sub-continental condition may favour them. Sri Lanka’s bowling is very compact led by Lasith Malinga. The batting of Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara and Dilshan (who have IPL experience) will have to click throughout the tournament. Sri Lanka might play two genuine spinners in Rengana Herath and Ajantha Mendis. An interesting match will certainly be on the cards.
In the super eights stages, India plays Pakistan, their arch-rivals. India-Pakistan match will always attract more audiences around the world. India has beaten Pakistan in 2007 finals, but has to fight hard in the shorter version as Pakistan had beaten Australia and won the three-match series. India has the upper hand as all their players have the experience of playing in IPL and Champions League T20. India has beaten Pakistan in all the World Cup matches (50-over format). As both the teams have experience in sub-continental tracks, the audience can expect a good contest.
In another super eight stage match, arch-rivals England and Australia clashes. After the Ashes clashes, it will be interesting to watch these two play against each other. The intensity will be equal to an India-Pakistan match.
South Africa might clash with Australia in the super eight stage. South Africa has the bowling firepower in Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and the all-rounder Albie Morkel. Australia will have to fight their way throughout the tournament as they have struggled in the sub-continental conditions which will certainly favour spin bowling. South Africa has Johan Botha and part-timer J.P. Duminy to help them.to help them. Kallis can prove to be a thorn with his all-round capabilities. Albie Morkel, though an under-rated cricketer, can hit the ball around the park and also can bowl. South Africa has the depth in the batting line-up. South Africa has the upper hand as its players have played in IPL and Champions League T20 matches.
India won both the World Cups (50-over format and Twenty20) and if India were to win this tournament, they would become the first nation to lift both World Cups twice (50-over format and Twenty20 format). Even though India won the World Cup in 1983, the tournament is not 50 overs but 60 overs. The other team is Pakistan who has won both the World Cups -- 50 over format in 1992 and T20 World Cup in 2009. India has won the Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 and 50-over format in 2011.
Dhoni has been one of the most successful captains in cricketing history. Having won the Test series against New Zealand, Dhoni has surpassed Azharuddin by winning 13 matches at home.
Even though India was comprehensively beaten in was comprehensively beaten in the two overseas test series under Dhoni (i.e. against England and Australia), they are ever reliable in the sub-continent surfaces.
My likely semifinal line-up: Australia, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka.
Keywords: Twenty20 World Cup