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20/20 World Cup Guide

In Cricket on April 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm

This year’s edition of the 20 over World Cup is due to get under way in the Caribbean this Friday, hot on the heels of a hard hitting IPL tournament in India. Here’s a rundown of the who’s in and out of form, and who’s likely to be in the contending for the title.

Group A

Australia


KEY MAN: Shane Watson

Form: The Aussies have been in excellent 20/20 form this year. They’ve beaten Pakistan, the West Indies and New Zealand since last year’s disappointment, and have been looking very strong. Many of their players were star performers in the recent IPL tournament, and they will be primed to atone for their shock group exit in 2009.

Strengths: Just about everywhere on the field. From Warner and Watson at the top of the order, to Johnson and Nannes with the ball, it’s tough to locate any cracks in this Australian squad. Their fielding should be top notch aswell, but it’s their devastating batting attack which will blow away most teams.

Weaknesses: Perhaps the lack of spin options. Nathan Hauritz has won over the boo boys and established himself as a quality off spinner, and Michael Clarke will be looking to him to take the sting out of the middle overs. Beyond Hauritz though, alternatives are thin on the ground. Smith, White, David Hussey or Clarke himself could turn the arm over, but an over-reliance on Hauritz could hurt them if he underperforms.

Outlook: All Gold. This squad is one of the most well-rounded and focussed in the competition and it would be a major surprise if they don’t make a semi-final appearance.

Squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin (wk), Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Dirk Nannes, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

Bangladesh


KEY MAN: Shakib Al Hasan

Form: The Bangladeshis have played precious little T20 cricket since last year’s World Cup, and the few matches they have got under their belts were less than encouraging. They suffered cruching defeats to New Zealand, the Windies and England, and will be coming into a tough Group A under-cooked and low on confidence.

Strengths: They possess some explosive shotmakers, and can run up a big score if their batsmen fire. They will be relying on Iqbal, Ashraful and Aftab to come up with the runs to give their under-strength bowling a chance.

Weaknesses: A tendency to crumble under pressure is a fatal flaw in the 20 over game, and the Bangladeshis seem mentally suspect in the batting department. Facing the pace in the Aussie and Pakistani attacks will give them fits. Apart from Mortaza, their seam attack is also weak-looking.

Outlook: Not good at all. They are always fun to watch, and delight in blazing the ball to all parts. They don’t yet have the skill or belief to make this style work just yet though, and will struggle to survive in this group.

Squad: Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Ashraful, Aftab Ahmed, Naeem Islam, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Syed Rasel, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Jahurul Islam (wk)

Pakistan

KEY MAN: Umar Akmal

Form: The defending champions are riddled with problems both on and off the pitch. These ‘problems’ mean they are without key batsmen Younis Khan, Mohammed Yousuf and Shoaib Malik, while Rana Naved is also suspended and Umar Gul out through injury. After a dream 2009 which saw them take the World Cup and three more crushing wins over good opponents, it’s been a sobering 2010. They’ve gone down to Australia, England and Zimbabwe so far this year, with just a solitary win over England to lift the gloom.

Strengths: Their batting can still be dangerous in the right conditions, and there are runs in the team.

Weaknesses: Despite the strength of their batting, they’ve been shorn of Younis and Yousuf’s steadying influence and the line up looks a bit more fragile than they would like. There is also a lack of depth in the bowling beyond the pace trio of Asif, Sami and Aamer, and the guile of Ajmal. Fielding is also a concern.

Outlook: Should have enough to take care of Bangladesh, but really need a win over Australia to enter the Super 8s in good shape. With some very strong-looking squads this year though, it will take an enormous effort to retain their crown.

Squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Khalid Latif, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Hammad Azam, Kamran Akmal (wk),Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Saeed Ajmal.

Group B

New Zealand

KEY MAN: Ross Taylor

Form: The Kiwis have been doing a lot of work on their 20 over game since the last World Cup, donning the pyjamas for nine games in the last year. They are looking increasingly comfortable as a result, and have the players to beat anyone on their day should everything click.

Strengths: They have the players to compete with anyone, and have been developing some real nous and belief in the short form. If Shane Bond can avoid injury he gives them a real hard edge, and they look to have added depth to the batting, which is the area that cost them dear in last year’s edition.

Weaknesses: A lot of their batsmen are from the ‘go big or go home’ school of cricket, and a few of them toppling early can leave the middle order exposed. Some of their seamers can be gotten after aswell.

Outlook: Tepid. They look better than last year, and will expect to advance at the expense of Zimbabwe. The group match against Sri Lanka will tell us a lot about how their tournament will go.

Squad: Daniel Vettori (capt), Brendon McCullum (wk), Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Aaron Redmond, Jacob Oram, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Rob Nicol, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Shane Bond, Ian Butler.

Sri Lanka

KEY MAN: Mahela Jayawardene

Form: The Sri Lankan side hasn’t had a lot of twenty over practise as a unit this year, but many of their key individuals were involved in the IPL. Some sparkled, others sputtered, so it’s very hard to predict how they’ll gel. If the mix is right though, watch out for some fireworks.

Strengths: A ferocious bowling attack. Lasith Malinga is one of the premier exponents of the art in this form of the game, and has some solid back-up from Kulasekara and Mathews. Their spin options are also second to none, with Muralitharan and Mendis two of the very best we’ve seen.

Weaknesses: Strangely for a Sri Lankan side, it could well be their batting. Captain Kumar Sangakkara struggled for consistency as his King’s XI side sank in the IPL, while Dilshan and Jayasuriya looked badly out of touch. Jayawardene did rack up some good runs though, and Mathews showed what a good cricketer he really is, so the out of form trio should have the support to play their way into form.

Outlook: Hard to say. They have the capability to go all the way, as they nearly did in reaching last year’s final. They need to find form in the Group stage though, or they could drop a couple of crucial games in the unforgiving 20 over whirlwind.

Squad: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Muttiah Muralitharan (vice-capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Thissara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekera, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Chanaka Welagedara, Chamara Kapugedara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chinthaka Jayasinghe.

Zimbabwe

KEY MAN: Tatenda Taibu

Form: Incredibly, the unfancied Zimbabweans downed both Pakistan and Australia in their warm up games. That made it three in a row after their win over the West Indies in February, and will be coming into their opener full of confidence that they can cause an upset.

Strengths: They have a burgeoning team spirit under new coach Alan Butcher, some tricky spinners, and a few classy batsmen.Lamb, Price and Cremer will need to tie their opponents down for a few slow overs, and if they can restrict the flow of runs then Taibu, Taylor and Coventry can set the stage for a late over assault.

Weaknesses: They don’t have many pace weapons, and rely on too few players.

Outlook: The fear remains that they could well find themselves overpowered in this group, but they will believe that they can replicate their win over Australia in ’09 and topple a big name. A Super 8 appearance is the limit of their ability though.

Squad: Prosper Utseya (capt), Brendan Taylor (wk), Charles Coventry, Andy Blignaut, Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Greg Lamb, Elton Chigumbura, Vusi Sibanda, Ray Price, Graeme Cremer, Chamu Chibhabha, Chris Mpofu, Timycen Maruma, Craig Ervine.

Group C

Afghanistan

KEY MAN: Mohammad Shahzad

Form: The Afghanistan team have had a hell of a year. They came into the 20/20 qualifiers last February as dark horses, and rode away with the top spot as they won five out of their six games. Two more wins over vanquished finalists Ireland followed, along with a stunning Intercontinental Cup win over Canada and the Asian Cricket Council crown. They won’t fear anyone.

Strengths: Mohammad Shahzad looks to be a cracking player, racking up a steely double ton to smash Canada in the Intercontinental Cup. Mahammad Nabi is also an important all-rounder for them, and Dawlat Ahmadzai can pick up quick wickets.

Weaknesses: Inexperience will be a big hurdle, as they won’t have faced quality like this in such a pressurised environment before.

Outlook: They won’t lack belief, but they’ve been thrown to the lions in Group C and will probably be satisfied with two competitive performances.

Squad: Nawroz Mangal (capt), Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf, Rais Ahmadzai, Dawlat Ahmadzai, Mohammad Shahzad (wkt), Hamid Hassan, Samiullah Shinwari, Noor Ali, Asghar Stanikzai, Shahpoor Zadran, Shabir Noori, Saeed Nasrat, Shafiqullah Shafaq.

India

KEY MAN: MS Dhoni

Form: They haven’t played a twenty over game as a unit yet this year, but with the IPL featuring every member of their squad they won’t lack for match practice, and have some key players bang in form.

Strengths: As always, their betting is imperious and they will be extremely difficult to contain. This year though, their bowling is also very strong and their spinners will play a key role.

Weaknesses: Their fielding is often suspect, and a couple of drops or misfields at key times can cause the heads to drop. A slight lack of fire in the pace department could also be a worry, but they boast one of the strongest squads in the tournament.

Outlook: Could be the beginning of an Indian Summer. Dhoni, Vijay, Pathan and Yuvraj can go off at any moment, and they have the batsmen to play around them in Raina, Gambhir and Sharma. Harbhajan and Karthik are difficult to get away, but with Zaheer ageing their seamers may lack experience.

Squad: Mahendra Dhoni (capt & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Vinay Kumar, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Murali Vijay

South Africa

KEY MAN: Jacques Kallis

Form: Haven’t played an official fixture in this form of the game since last November, but had a number of players in great nick during the IPL. Their collision with India is an early highlight and will tell us plenty about where the two teams stand.

Strengths: All over the place. Smith and Kallis are a blitzkrieg opening pair, and AB de Villiers, Bosman , Boucher et al will provide ample back up. Also boast a formidable pace attack and a wily battery of all rounders.

Weaknesses: Some key players are badly out of touch. Duminy looks a shadow of his former self and Gibbs is too often a liability.

Outlook: Very promising, but the game against India will be huge. That will give them a big boost, or a blow to their sometimes fragile confidence. If some big players find form they’ll be hard to stop though, and will have their eye on a semi final spot at least.

Squad: Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis (vice-captain), Lungile “Loots” Bosman, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Rory Kleinveldt, Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Juan Theron, Roelof van der Merwe.

Group D:

England

KEY MAN: Kevin Pietersen

Form: Split a pair of games with Pakistan back in February and won both their warm-up matches, so they’ll come in with plenty of belief. Some key men also showed up well in the recent IPL.

Strengths: Have some real know-how in the batting department and some great variety. Lumb and Pietersen can provide some impetus, with Collingwood, Morgan and Bopara all able to adapt their game to suit the situation. It will be interesting to see how promising keeper Kieswetter goes too.

Weaknesses. A lot rests on Anderson with the ball. Sidebottom, Tredwell, Broad and Bresnan won’t be invading the nightmares of too many top-line batsmen, and Swann is the only proven spinner in the squad.

Outlook: Not bad at all. Have the batting to put up competitive scores in any conditions, and if the all rounders bowl tidily then they should be at the business end of the Super 8s and pushing for a semi final spot.

Squad: Paul Collingwood (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Ajmal Shahzad, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.

Ireland

KEY MAN: Niall O'Brien

Form: Not good. Have had a disappointing year so far, struggling to perform well and not grinding out the results they need. Recent losses to Afghanistan and the hosts do not bode well.

Strengths: Have some talent in the batting. Niall O’Brien is a classy performer and Kevin can also do damage if he gets going. Youngster Paul Stirling is one to watch, and if he survives early he can score big. Porterfield and Botha have been struggling this year, but they’re very important to this side. Boyd Rankin and Peter Connell are a testing opening pair, complementing each other well, and teenage spinner George Dockrell has been a big success since he came into the side.

Weaknesses: Some important cogs in their recent success are getting worn out. Trent Johnson and Andre Botha are slowing down and captain Porterfield has been struggling for consistency. The side has looked prone to collapsing of late and will do well to even threaten an upset this time around.

Outlook: Not very promising at all. The spark seems to have faded, and there looks to be little chance of another famous upset.

Squad: William Porterfield (capt), Andre Botha, Peter Connell, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Gary Kidd, John Mooney, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (wk).

West Indies

KEY MAN: Chris Gayle

Form: The hosts haven’t played a top ranked nation since February, when they were summarily dismissed by the Australians. They also lost to New Zealand in a warm up for this competition, so they’re not exactly coming in on a wave of confidence.

Strengths: Some real juggernauts with the bat. Chris Gayle is one of the most dangerous cutomers in world cricket, and Keiron Pollard again showed what he can do with some massive hits in the IPL. Sarwan and Chanderpaul are also great players, if not ideally suited to 20/20, and Dwayne Bravo will bring his all-round energy into every game.

Weaknesses: Taylor, Sammy and Roach will provide the pace, but they may lack the consistency to propel their side into the last four. They also look a little understrength in terms of spin.

Outlook: Should get out of their group, but will face an almighty struggle against England and will be doing well to battle into the last four.

Squad: Chris Gayle (capt), Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Andre Fletcher, Wavell Hinds, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor.

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