The unpredictability of the format, lack of clear favourites, and the frenzy nature of the game all make this World T20 a fascinating times ahead for the cricket fraternity. The premier competition of the shortest format has arrived with a thumping win for the hosts against Zimbabwe. Here in I look into the key players for each of the Top 8 sides in two series.
This is one format where the best side of the last decade has never been at home. This time they have an inexperienced side under George Bailey and will depend a lot on their experienced top order. The side is brimming with exciting pacers and will look to win one World title eluding them for long. Their ranking below the Ireland will surely drive them to come out and prove. Their key performers would be:
Shane Watson: The burly allrounder is a cricketer of highest quality and is a complete package. His form at the top of the order will be the key for them to get god head starts and his bowling is handy. If Watto fires at the top, expect their middle order to capitalize.
Glenn Maxwell: The newbie in the circuit is an exciting prospect and will be inching to make his name in his first litmus test. His ultra powerful strikes at the lower order will be as critical as his off breaks in their bowling think tank.
Pat Cummins: The tall pacer from Down Under will be keen to prove his worth in this format. He had a sparkling test introduction and has made name as one to be followed. If he can get a wicket or two at the first six overs, Australians will be better served.
The defending champions are coming under a new skipper in Broad and miss the biggest name in their armoury. Pieterson’s absence from the middle order given his powerful strikes and rich experience in these conditions is a big hole though they want us to believe the contrary. Yet they do have a decent combination to compete. Key men for their defence would be:
Eion Morgan: The Irish man is the only one in their line up capable of replacing KP’s match winning abilities and he has a good experience in these formats. His role in the middle order san KP that includes relatively unproven Bairstow and Hales is likely to be more critical. If they are to proceed beyond the Super eights Morgan must fire for he is one player who can combat the spin challenge.
Graeme Swann: One of the top notch spinners, Swann has not made big name in the Asian conditions. But the Englishman will have to make hay if Poms need to defend their title. His strength is his accuracy and it will be testes especially by the natural players of spin from Asia.
Stuart Broad: Broad has come a long way since Yuvraj belted him for six sixes at Durban night in the first edition. Broad now leads the defending champions and has to play a major role in driving the side without its talisman in the title win last time. His bowling needs to fire for all the experience he has. Else the calls for the comeback of KP are going to grow.
The winners of the First T20 have been underachievers since then. This time the juggernaut roles at Sri Lanka where they have the most success away from home. With the conditions being friendly, their batting will be at home. If India’s bowling can fire, MSD can add one more feather to his crown in October. Key players will be:
Virat Kohli: The ODI player of the year award from ICC is right now the hot cake in cricket esp in coloured clothes and his presence in their middle order is a big boost given the scratchy form of their openers. If Virat fires, there is going to be no stopping of the Blues.
Ravichandran Ashwin: Ashwin is India’s lead spinner since the last world cup. His carom balls will pose threats to the batsmen and his role is the key point to India’s progress in the competition. He is also a reliable lower order batsman and has to fire. Given Dhoni’s reluctance to play 5 bowlers, Ashwin will have to take the lead.
Irfan Pathan: The younger Pathan’s comeback to the limited overs side has solved a lot of problems for India. His bowling is finding back its groove and his batting has added depth to their strong batting order. If he can pull his boots up with a decent bowling efforts, India’s progress will be lot easier. Given their fragile bowling attack, Pathan’s role is very critical for Team India.
The perennial under achievers have managed to pull beyond their weight in the ICC competitions. Here too they come with a decent team that has given India a shock in their last T20 game. With the experience of some of their players in the domestic leagues in the continent, they can be a challenge to the favoured sides. Key contestants are:
Brendon McCullum: The hard hitting Kiwi is a proven T20 giant and on his day can send any attack to gallows as India learnt recently. His form at the top order will drive the Kiwis towards a staunch total. His form is good coming into the trophy.
Jacob Oram: A limited over specialist was recently unplayable in SLPL and will be their key bowler in middle overs. His batting skill is a known entity and if can accelerate in both his pedigrees, Kiwis could make their opponents sweat.
James Franklin: A former fast bowler has now graduated into a fine all rounder and he is an experienced hand in T20s. His street smart batting in the slog is a big strength to the Kiwis and his bowling as was seen against India last week will be tough to negotiate. Franklin in their lower middle order will be the key to me.
…To be continued…