ICC World Twenty20 Preview - Part 3: Groups C and D

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ICC World Twenty20 Preview - Part 3: Groups C and D Empty ICC World Twenty20 Preview - Part 3: Groups C and D

Post by Shelsey93 on Fri 14 Sep 2012, 5:50 pm

After the most sensational summer of sport one could possibly imagine, its finally cricket’s turn to step in to the global spotlight. The ICC World Twenty20 is back for its fourth edition - the third at which the women will be involved as well as the men - and it promises to offer two and a half weeks of fantastic cricket, and most importantly plenty of fun. In this third and final preview article I analyse the prospects of the teams that make up Groups C and D of the men’s tournament - Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

GROUP C

SRI LANKA

World Ranking: 3
Captain: Mahela Jayawardene

Home advantage could be a major factor in boosting Sri Lanka’s chances of challenging. The batting line-up likes home comforts, and it would be a major surprise if the big three of Tillekaratne Dilshan, captain Mahela Jayawardene and wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara did not all have excellent tournaments. Questions remain about the rest of the batting, although Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal are both undoubtedly talented.

However, the main area of concern will be the bowling attack. Lasith Malinga is the best death bowler in the world in this form of the game, but the rest of the seamers offer nothing special, and, unusually for Sri Lanka, even the spin cupboard is a little bare. Rangana Herath is the most experienced of the spin trio, which also includes 18 year-old Akila Dananjaya, who hadn’t played a single professional game until last month’s Sri Lanka Premier League, and wasn’t picked for the recent Under 19 World Cup in Australia. The team have a good chance of going far but, like India, are more likely to do so off the back of big totals than devastating bowling.

Key Man: Mahela Jayawardene. Sri Lanka appear to have steadied since Jayawardene was reinstated as captain over the winter, and with his return to the helm he has also found some much needed batting form. In Twenty20 he is an underrated player - when big shots are added to his natural poise and timing he is a devastating prospect for opposition bowlers.

Prediction: Runners-Up

SOUTH AFRICA

World Ranking: 2
Captain: AB de Villiers

As their ranking suggests South Africa are a fine outfit in all formats. However, they won’t go into this tournament as one of the most fancied sides. The batting line-up appears to be carrying a couple of passengers - Faf du Plessis and Justin Ontong in particular - and, as with England, the playing of spin in Asian conditions may be an area of concern. Nevertheless, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla have demonstrated an ability to adapt to Twenty20 and AB de Villiers is one of the finest short-form players in the world.

There is also, of course, real strength in bowling. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel pose a major threat to the world’s batting line-ups, and Johan Botha is criminally under-rated as an off-spinner. They do lack a third seamer in these conditions though - is Albie Morkel good enough or should Tsotsobe play? And on flat pitches Steyn and Morkel could easily be tonked if they err slightly in line because of the extra pace they put on the ball.

Key Man: AB de Villiers. De Villiers’s tour of England was uncharacteristically unspectacular - he got starts most times he walked to the wicket, but it was ultimately others who grabbed the headlines. In this tournament, however, its likely that he’ll have to be the headline maker if South Africa are to stand a chance. He is regarded as the best all-round batsmen in the world, and, if he comes off, its sure to be to devastating effect.

Prediction: Super Eight

ZIMBABWE

World Ranking: 11
Captain: Brendan Taylor

Having played very little international cricket of late Zimbabwe come into the World Twenty20 as something of an unknown quantity. Their main strength is likely to be their restrictive spin bowlers - veteran Ray Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer. The team have sometimes used 16 or more overs of spin in Twenty20 matches, and those tactics might just be the best way to spring a surprise, particularly on South Africa. They have, however, also discovered some seam bowling talent in the last year or so in the form of Brian Vitori and the improving Chris Mpofu.

The batting line-up would seem over-reliant on one man, captain Brendan Taylor. Still only 26, Taylor has a strike rate of more than 120 in the shortest form of the game, and has four half-centuries.

Zimbabwe are in a tough group and any hope of getting out of it is likely to be based on the success they enjoyed at home in an unofficial tournament featuring a South African XI and Bangladesh. But a global tournament is a completely different kettle of fish.

Key Man: Ray Price. He seems to have been around for ever but Ray Price is only 36. The former Warwickshire batsman goes at only just over six runs an over and is likely to be called upon with the new ball and at the death.

Prediction: Group Stage

GROUP D

PAKISTAN

World Ranking: 6
Captain: Mohammad Hafeez

Pakistan should never be written off in major tournaments but their shot at success here is likely to be based almost entirely on their irresistible spin attack. Saeed Ajmal has been tormenting batsmen the world over for the last two years, and will again be a major threat. Meanwhile, Shahid Afridi likes to turn it on on the biggest stage, and captain Mohammad Hafeez has turned himself into one of the best in the world at bowling spin with the new ball. England are sure to have breathed a sigh of relief when Abdur Rehman was strangely omitted, preventing Pakistan from throwing an attack of Ajmal, Afridi, Hafeez, Rehman and Umar Gul at them.

However, the batting is a major worry. They have a mix of those that struggle to score quickly - Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Shaoib Malik - and those that are often far too reckless - the Akmal brothers, Afridi. Therefore, its hard to see how they win without spin being a major factor.

Key Man: Saeed Ajmal. Whether he’s in the running for the ICC Cricketer of the Year or not, Ajmal is clearly the world’s best spinner. Combining an accurate line with wicket-taking variations, it would be a huge surprise if he isn’t one of the bowlers of the tournament.

Prediction: Semi-Finalists

NEW ZEALAND

World Ranking: 5
Captain: Ross Taylor

Despite their recent win against tournament favourites India, New Zealand are perhaps the most vulnerable of all the major nations in the initial group stage.

Their batting is furnished with destructive players (Brendan McCullum and Ross Taylor), but for the most-part they struggle at international level, and in particular in Asia. McCullum scored 91 against India and the team still didn’t manage 170. A reliance on a few wouldn’t be a problem if McCullum and Taylor are reliable. But they’re not. For players who have now been playing international cricket for a number of years my impression is that they are far too inconsistent.

And its not as if the bowling will bail them out. Tim Southee has become a decent bet in one-day cricket and is well suited to Asian conditions with his skiddy action, but Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram look spent forces, and you’ve got to question whether youngsters like Adam Milne, whose gone at almost 12 an over in his 3 matches to date, are ready for Twenty20 Internationals. Daniel Vettori was formerly a linchpin, but for whatever reason has struggled of late. One theory is that the responsibility he has burdened for so many years is finally starting to effect his bowling.

Key Man: Ross Taylor. Taylor is an extremely dangerous one-day batsman as he has shown on a number of occasions. But New Zealand need more from him if they’re to make an impression in Sri Lanka.

Prediction: Group Stage

BANGLADESH

World Ranking: 8
Captain: Mushfiqur Rahim

On the evidence of this year’s Asia Cup, in which they reached the final and competed well in every match, Bangladesh’s long awaited improvement may finally have arrived. Off the back of the Bangladesh Premier League a team which were thrust together when barely out of school are finally starting to mature. Captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who is just 23 but has played international cricket since 2005, has been an important part of that process, as has the talismanic Shakib-al-Hasan.

Shakib will be the main batsmen and the main bowler, but he does now have a wider range of support acts than at one stage. Tamim Iqbal, who has showed signs of a return to the form that saw him score a century in the 2010 Lord’s Test, will open the batting, whilst Abdur Razzak and Elias Sunny provide support in the spin department. Seam bowling may still be an issue - Shafiul Islam and Mashrafe bin Mortaza tend to blow hot and cold.

Overall, Bangladesh have a real chance to go well in this tournament. But if they don’t they’ll have questions to answer.

Key Man: Shakib-al-Hasan. Shakib is probably the best Twenty20 all-rounder in the world. He is Bangladesh’s leading player in both disciplines, and by all standards has a fantastic record. His left-arm spin in particular is likely to cause difficulties to Bangladesh’s group rivals.

Prediction: Super Eight


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Post by msp83 on Sun 16 Sep 2012, 12:23 pm

I do feel Bangladesh have it in them to make it pass the group stage.
I hope that won't open the way for them to play far too many T-20Is and lose the focus on test matches. If Bangladesh have to really become a good side in all formats, they have to become a decent test side. consistent losses against the big sides may not be ideal, but they have to look to play more and more tests against teams like West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe with a few matches with the other top sides.

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Post by Shelsey93 on Sun 16 Sep 2012, 7:30 pm

msp83 wrote:I do feel Bangladesh have it in them to make it pass the group stage.
I hope that won't open the way for them to play far too many T-20Is and lose the focus on test matches. If Bangladesh have to really become a good side in all formats, they have to become a decent test side. consistent losses against the big sides may not be ideal, but they have to look to play more and more tests against teams like West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe with a few matches with the other top sides.

Perhaps. I think they have matured. As I pointed out in my preview, the team was exceptionally young when put together - at the time of the 2011 World Cup most were 21/22. Now the are 23/24 and, with the experiences of the BPL and for most of the players quite a lot of international cricket, they now seem ready to step up a gear.

The T20 World Cup is a tough format for the lesser teams though - only two chances to make any impact.

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