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ICC World Twenty20 Preview - Part 2: Groups A and B

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ICC World Twenty20 Preview - Part 2: Groups A and B Empty ICC World Twenty20 Preview - Part 2: Groups A and B

Post by Shelsey93 Thu 13 Sep 2012, 10:28 am

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 second of three preview articles I analyse the prospects of the teams that make up Groups A and B of the men’s tournament - England, India, Afghanistan, Australia, West Indies and Ireland.

GROUP A

ENGLAND

World Ranking: 1
Captain: Stuart Broad

England won this tournament two years ago, and for the most part have remained a force in the intervening years. However, as the tournament approaches it is difficult to retain confidence in the team. Kevin Pietersen is a major loss, and they have historically struggled to make an impact in sub-continental conditions. But that is not to say that all is lost. Four of the top six from 2010 are in the squad, and to that we can add the in-form Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales, who made 99 against the West Indies in June.

Nevertheless, the strength is in the seam bowling department which, along with South Africa, is the strongest in the tournament - you must be good to leave James Anderson out. Stuart Broad and Steven Finn will look to work over Asian and West Indian batsmen who struggle against aggressive quick bowling, whilst Jade Dernbach will be critical at the death. Graeme Swann also has an important role to play - his form has dipped of late, but after a short rest the team need him to be at his best, particularly if the pitches take the amount of turn that is anticipated.

Key Man: Eoin Morgan. In the absence of Pietersen, Morgan is undoubtedly England’s leading Twenty20 batsman. He shouldn’t have a problem with playing in Sri Lanka, and has come into some superb form in recent months.

Prediction: Semi-finalists

INDIA

World Ranking: 7
Captain: MS Dhoni

Despite a mixed record in Twenty20 cricket, India will rightly start as favourites to win the competition. The main reason for this is their batting - Virender Sehwag remains one of the most dangerous openers around, Virat Kohli is fast becoming one of the leading batsmen in the world, and MS Dhoni is the best finisher around. When you add Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and the returning Yuvraj Singh to this group it is easy to see why scores of 200 should almost always be within their reach.

However, the stardom in their batting line-up contrasts to a mediocre looking bowling attack, which didn’t cost them the 2011 World Cup but must have an effect at some point - it certainly means that whilst an England or South Africa can feel confident in defending a par score, they will always have to look higher. Irfan Pathan has found some form, and Zaheer Khan is fit again. But Ravichandran Ashwin will be the most important bowler - his subtle variations have the potential to flummox sides who are uncomfortable against slow bowling, and I’d expect him to be used with the new ball on most occasions.

Key Man: MS Dhoni. There is quite simply no better finisher in the world game - get down to the last few overs with him at the crease and you know what’s coming. He’ll also have the important job of working out how to juggle an average bowling line-up, and is one of the best ‘keepers standing up to the stumps in the tournament.

Prediction: Winners

AFGHANISTAN

World Ranking: Currently unranked because of having played fewer than eight matches since August 2010
Captain: Nawroz Mangal

The Afghanistan story is an incredible one. They went from lowly ranked no-hopers to the 2010 World Twenty20 in little more than a year, and since then have improved further. However, the format for this tournament is unforgiving, making it difficult to see how they can advance to the Super Eights.

Although they suffer from a lack of depth, they do have three players in their ranks who would come close to a place in just about any international side. Wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad averages 56 in first-class cricket, and packs a punch in Twenty20 too, where he has six international 50s. Meanwhile, in Hamid Hassan and Dawlat Zadran they have arguably the best new ball pair amongst the Asian teams. Its likely that scoring runs will be the major challenge - if they do, then who knows what can happen?

Key Man: Dawlat Zadran. Demonstrated fantastic use of pace, variation and swing in the World Twenty20 Qualifier and a recent ODI against Pakistan. Could just be the find of the tournament if he comes good.

Prediction: Group Stage

GROUP B

AUSTRALIA

World Ranking: 9
Captain: George Bailey

Much was made of Australia slipping to 9th in the Twenty20 World Rankings, and whilst that might not be a fair reflection of the teams abilities it does reflect their poor results, and the fact that they’ve got a number of issues in this format.

Foremost amongst these is the captain. Chief selector John Inverarity appointed George Bailey on the basis of his domestic captaincy record, but its difficult to see how he gets into Australia’s best XI in this form of the game. A number of other selections are also confusing. Ryan Harris, arguably Australia’s best seam bowler, has been left out and the main spinner is a 41 year-old who thought he’d retired from international cricket four years ago. Brag Hogg may yet prove to be an inspired selection, but whatever happens spin is unlikely to be a strength.

The batting, however, certainly has the capacity to succeed. Shane Watson and David Warner are one of the more dangerous opening pairs around, although they can expect to face spin up front more often than not. Meanwhile, the Hussey brothers remain dangerous Twenty20 players and Glenn Maxwell has been brought into the side after a hot run of form, and could prove a shrewd pick.

Key Man: Mike Hussey. Mr. Cricket is in the twilight of his career, but Australia will be relying on him to make a big contribution to their run-making. He is likely to bat at three, and so will have the tough job of scoring at a good rate whilst not getting himself out.

Prediction: Super Eight

WEST INDIES

World Ranking: 4
Captain: Darren Sammy

Somewhat surprisingly the same West Indies team that were roundly beaten by England in all formats a couple of months ago are now being touted in some quarters as potential title challengers. With a look down the names on their team sheet it is easy to see why: Chris Gayle is consistently the most devastating Twenty20 batsmen in the world, Kieron Pollard hits the ball further than anybody, and nobody has yet mastered Sunil Narine in helpful conditions. The team as a whole has also undergone considerable improvements since Darren Sammy took over the captaincy.

However, consistency is required to win a tournament like this and the team are yet to produce the performances which suggest they can do that. You also feel that all-rounders like Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith can be worked out by top notch international bowlers, the likes of which are few and far between at the IPL and other Twenty20 jamborees. That was certainly the case in England this summer, when Pollard was targeted with the short ball and Bravo and Smith also struggled for runs.

Key Man: Chris Gayle. Since his en-passé with the West Indies Cricket Broad, Gayle has turned himself into indisputably the most consistent Twenty20 bludgeoner. It would be a major surprise if he didn’t score a century in the tournament, and when he does, West Indies will be well on course to winning games.

Prediction: Super Eight

IRELAND

World Ranking: 10
Captain: William Porterfield

Ireland have been standard bearers for Associate cricket over a number of years now, to the point where they will now feel they’ve underperformed if they don’t pull off upsets. On paper they should have a chance. Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien are potentially as destructive as just about anyone in the world, whilst Ed Joyce and William Porterfield add the glue to the batting line-up. They also have George Dockrell in their ranks. The 20 year-old left-arm spinner has already been to two global tournaments before this one, and has become a critical cog in Somerset’s Championship side. On the pitches in Sri Lanka he’ll be vital to the team’s success.

The main area of doubt will be in the seam bowling department. Trent Johnston is not the force he was a few years ago, and Boyd Rankin prefers the longer formats of the game. Therefore, a lot will rest on Tim Murtagh, the Middlesex new ball bowler who only started playing for Ireland this summer. Ireland will also be concerned that the weather has denied them a lot of vital match practice this summer, and that when they have got on the field the team has never really got going. But they should never be written off, and Australia and West Indies will both have to take their matches against Ireland extremely seriously.

Key Man: George Dockrell. Dockrell has the potential to be a fine international bowler and has already put in some excellent displays in global tournaments. With two years more county experience since the 2011 World Cup, Ireland will hope that he can consistently offer a threat to the better batsmen in world cricket.

Prediction: Group Stage


Shelsey93

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Post by msp83 Thu 13 Sep 2012, 8:29 pm

Good analysis Shelsey.
I would expect West Indies to do better and India to do worse than you have predicted.
West of course has Chris Gayle in their ranks, and he is the best T-20 batsman in the world. Pollard and Bravo are unlikely to be confronted with lively pitches that would make dealing with the short stuff that much dificult, and their slowish medium pace might find greater receptivity on the Lankan tracks. Something like what James Franklin did to India in the recent match. With pplayers like Andre Russel and Darren Sammy coming down at 8 or 9 in the lineup, I would say West Indies has the most powerful batting lineup with depth as far as the tournament is concerned.
Gayle
Charles/ Smith
Darren Bravo
Samuels
Dwayne Bravo
Pollard
Russell
Sammy
Ramdin
Narine
Roach. I won't be surprised if they win the tournament. Bats all the way to 9, and in Gayle, Smith, Samuels, Bravo, Pollard, Sammy and Russell, there is lot of support to Narine and Roach. The only major weakness is the lack of a consistent 2nd seamer, although Russell has been taking up more and more responsibilities in recent times in the limited overs formats.

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Post by msp83 Thu 13 Sep 2012, 8:37 pm

India are a good ODI side, but I am not too confident about their T-20I chances. Gambhir isn't in the best of touch, and so is the case with Virender Sehwag. Yuvraj's selection, although a justified gamble, comes with concerns about his match fitness. The 7th batsman is very much a concern going into the tournament, Rohit Sharma's last visit to Sri Lanka was a massive cricketing disaster!. Manoj Tiwary doesn't have the experience.
The bowling is notoriously fickle. Zaheer Khan hasn't fully come to terms with the format as yet. Pathan is still in the process of coming back to international cricket. the 3rd seamer is an absolute lottery, and even Ravichandran Ashwin, India's best bet in the bowling unit as you rightly pointed out, is prone to the not too rare off days.
I would be very happy if they make it to the semis.

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Post by atletico86 Mon 17 Sep 2012, 3:30 pm

just thought id give my 2cents on the ireland team as Im probably the only Irish fan on here! Murtagh is potentially an important member of the team yet he has not rly performed well for us and there is a chance he mite not get the nod for the 1st game. Altho i must say I would start him. Also Johnston has been preforming quite well since returning from his last operation, so much so he even signed a new 1yr contract extention with Cricket Ireland.

We will lineout: Ports, Stirlo, Joyce, NOB, Wilson, KOB, Cusack, Murtagh, TJ, Dockers & Rankin. Personally i think we missed a trick by not bringing james shannon who has impressed for ireland A v South Africa A & county 2nd XIs, and in the Irish Interprovincials (North v South). I reckon he could have done a job at no7 and if he continues the way he is going, he will be a regular in Irish squads, as well as maybe attracting county attention.

My big concern for us is the batting, as we rarely bat well against the big boys. This is why I think Stirling is our most important player, he is the most talented irish batsmen i have ever seen (Morgan & Joyce included), and underlined that with his displays in the qualifier & for Middlesex in the Friends Providence T20 (7matches, 271runs, avg= 45.16 & strke rate of 140+). If he gets us off to a flyer we have a chance.

I think this is the best squad Ireland have ever assembled, and some of the batsmen are in form (NOB, Wilson, Strilo, & Joyce). However I do not think we will beat Aus or the Windies, and will be happy with a respectable performance in both games. Viva Irlanda!

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Post by Shelsey93 Mon 17 Sep 2012, 4:13 pm

Ireland are in a difficult predicament as I sort of said in the preview - the squad clearly isn't as strong as Australia's or the West Indies, but having had success in the past, anything less than an upset would have to be seen as failure.

Stirling is still very young and if he isn't already will be a world class T20 opener in the Warner/ Levi mould. Overall I'm not sure he has the talent that Morgan does, and it would be a surprise to see him make it in the longer formats.

The squad is now full of proper professional cricketers - 9 of the starting XI atletico quoted are good county players, and Johnston surely would have been had Irish cricket had the exposure when he was younger.

The concern would be that they don't yet have the depth in talent to produce a top team specially tailored for T20. I'd say, and county performances would indicate this, that Porterfield, Joyce, Wilson, Murtagh and Rankin all favour the longer formats compared with T20.

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Post by ShankyCricket Tue 18 Sep 2012, 6:05 am

Shelsey93 wrote:Ireland are in a difficult predicament as I sort of said in the preview - the squad clearly isn't as strong as Australia's or the West Indies, but having had success in the past, anything less than an upset would have to be seen as failure.

Stirling is still very young and if he isn't already will be a world class T20 opener in the Warner/ Levi mould. Overall I'm not sure he has the talent that Morgan does, and it would be a surprise to see him make it in the longer formats.

The squad is now full of proper professional cricketers - 9 of the starting XI atletico quoted are good county players, and Johnston surely would have been had Irish cricket had the exposure when he was younger.

The concern would be that they don't yet have the depth in talent to produce a top team specially tailored for T20. I'd say, and county performances would indicate this, that Porterfield, Joyce, Wilson, Murtagh and Rankin all favour the longer formats compared with T20.
I can't believe what I have jsut read. Rolling Eyes

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Post by Shelsey93 Tue 18 Sep 2012, 9:07 am

shankythebiggestengfan wrote:
I can't believe what I have jsut read. Rolling Eyes

I can't believe I wrote that either! In fairness the point I was making is that I think Stirling is more a better version of Levi or a Warner at best, than an Eoin Morgan!

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