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Bangladesh welcomes big hitters in T20 world cup
Bangladesh is bracing itself for the cricketing world’s biggest boundary hitters to arrive and do battle for the T20 World Cup, the most charismatic format of the game.
India, Pakistan, England and the West Indies are the first 4 winners of the tournament which takes place every 2 years and fans in both Bangladesh and around the world are set for a blazing month of boundaries and excitement.
T20 cricket has made an impact on the sport far beyond any original expectations with all ICC member nations having followed the IPL and set up their own domestic competitions which has grabbed the imagination of their fans in spectacular fashion.
The financial rewards of the T20 format have been the most obvious impact, highlighted by the fact that several players have recently been purchased for over a million Dollars in the IPL auction, Yuvjaj Singh topping the list at $2.3 million after being bought by Force India Formula 1 team owner, and owner of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Vijay Millay.
From a cricketing side, the all or nothing approach with the bat has also made a huge impact in the sport. Certain players have decided that Test cricket is no longer an achievable goal and have decided to ply their trade around the world in the T20 and 50 over format while the top players have managed to transform some of the tactics and mindset into the Test arena.
More and more Test matches are seeing results due to the increased run rate and approach to batting, David Warner from Australia is a classic example of this.
At the top of the order, Warner’s brilliance and ability to score runs at more than 5 an over in Test cricket has been a big part of the resurgence of the Baggy Greens in Test cricket. The charismatic star has shown time and time again this Summer, during which the Australians won series’ against England and South Africa, that he is capable of batting the opposition out of a Test match in a single session. As a result of his quick scoring the Test is able to advance at a far quicker rate, allowing the bowlers and in particular Mitchell Johnson, more time to secure the 20 wickets that are required to win a Test.
Without the introduction of T20 would we see this brand of cricket being adopted in the Test arena? I think not, and as a result, Test cricket is without doubt in a better place for it.
The format for this years tournament will see 8 minor nations split into 2 groups who will battle it out over the first 5 days, with the top of each group joining the big guns in the main draw.
Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Nepal will feature in qualifying group A, Bangladesh look the most likely to get through, while Zimbabwe, the UAE, the Netherlands and Ireland will go head to head in a far tighter group, Ireland or Zimbabwe the most likely winners of qualifying group B.
The main draw and business end of the tournament is when the serious action will begin.
Group A consists of South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England and the qualifier of group B, while Group B consists of Australia, India, Pakistan, the West Indies and the qualifier of group A.
Group B looks the more difficult of the 2 with all 4 major nations regarded as potential winners, and considering only the top 2 in each group will advance into the semifinals the tournament does have a very open feel about it.
So who will make a serious challenge for the title? Tough call however one must think that a subcontinent nation is best placed to do so.
The recent Asia Cup has provided ideal preparation for the subcontinent teams while South Africa and Australia arrive off the back of a summer season involving multiple Test matches.
Asia Cup winners Sri Lanka, looked well placed following a successful campaign. Experienced stars, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga and captain Angelo Mathews have been in superb form while the emergence of the left handed opener Lahiru Thirimanne has been a bonus for the Sri Lankans and will form half of a devastating opening partnership with Tillakaratne Dishan.
India can never be ruled out of the running. The 50 over world cup champions come armed with a powerful batting lineup which includes the ever maturing and brilliant Virat Kohli, the experienced Suresh Raina and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Mohammed Shami has proved his cause with the new ball while Ashwin and Jadeja will make scoring difficult by taking the pace off the ball.
Defending champions the West Indies are a powerful batting unit despite the absence of Kieran Pollard due to injury. All eyes will be on the brutal Chris Gayle at the top of the order, he is the prize wicket. The subcontinent has been a happy hunting ground for Gayle having clocked up over 1500 runs during the last 2 editions of the IPL, including a top score of 175. Dwayne Smith makes up their potentially explosive partnership at the top of the order, Smith himself enjoying a great deal of success over the last 2 IPL seasons. More big hitters keep coming down the order in the shape of Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Danish Ramdin and captain Darren Sammy. With ball in hand they have pace and variety with spinner Sunil Narine their trump card and another IPL performer in recent years.
Australia are the team for the big occasion and in Aaron Finch, George Bailey and in particular David Warner they have some of the best exponents of the T20 format with bat in hand. Mitchell Johnson has enjoyed a golden Summer with 59 wickets in 8 Test matches, a stunning return, however it is his express pace that will be crucial to the Aussie cause. As to how effective that pace will be on subcontinent wickets remains to be seen and considering that pace clears the boundary easier, he could very well not make the same impact in the shorter version.
South Africa arrive looking to shake off the “chokers,” tag which seems to accompany them to all major tournaments. They are a crack unit in all departments with AB de Villiers the number 1 ranked batsman in Test and ODI cricket their main weapon. Twenty year old Quinton de Kock has made a significant impact at the top of the order and looks a superb talent, scoring 3 consecutive centuries against India recently while the experience of Hashim Amla and the brutal hitting of David Miller and Albie Morkel will strike fear into most bowlers. Dale Steyn will provide the firepower with ball in hand alongside Morne Morkel with the left arm pace of Wayne Parnell as backup however the form of Imran Tahir as the spinner, will be crucial to their hopes.
Never rule out Pakistan with Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal, while New Zealand are more than capable with Brendan McCullum and Ross Taylor in their ranks.
England look set to struggle. They lack in real power hitters and in experience although they have some talent in the form of Hales and Butler. James Treadwell as their spin option shows a clear lack of depth in that department and I expect that it will be a tough tournament for England.
It will be interesting to see just how far some of the lesser nations have developed. Afghanistan recently defeated Bangladesh in the Asia Cup while Ireland and the Netherlands have previously caused upsets.
Whatever happens and whoever wins, one thing is for sure, cricket fans around the world will be treated to a carnival of power hitting and excitement in a contents where more often than not the bat prevails.
Brace yourselves, its the T20 World Cup!