By Denzil Fernandes
Sep 16: There is an unbelievable freshness in the current Indian cricket team that is in Sri Lanka to take part in the T20 World Cup which starts on Sept.18 with hosts Sri Lanka playing Zimbabwe in Group ‘C’ in the opening match of the tournament.
The Indians are surely going to be one of the top favourites to lift the T20 World Cup having arrived with a team full of promising performers. No doubt, they lost their T20 encounter in Chennai earlier in the month against New Zealand but I feel Indian skipper Dhoni was using that game to try and test some new plans in view of the bigger affair in Sri Lanka.
Under skipper Dhoni and with players like ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year Kohli, Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, Ashwin and others in no mood to relent it is a safe bet to predict India as ‘red hot’ favourites once again to lift the cup. Like the well known Indian hot curry, every other team have to be on their toes to stop the Indians from repeating their win in 2007 when they won the World Cup. This apart, they are also keen to welcome their star batter Yuvraj Singh who is making a comeback after his recent illness which kept him away from the team. That should spur them to win the T20 World Cup once again ! Yet another factor will be the World Cup win by their Under 19 team recently in Australia which the seniors also would like to emulate. There is no question that every other team in the competition will find it hard to go past India at least on current form.
Of course, there will be stiff opposition from teams like Pakistan and hosts Sri Lanka who have ‘home advantage’ if one may say so. For that matter, no team can be taken for granted with surprise results expected even from lesser known teams which have become a part and parcel of the limited overs game. Powerful teams like holders England, South Africa and Australia are capable of taking the cup if their well known players live upto the mark on their day. In all, there are 12 teams taking part with India, England and Afghanistan in Group ‘A’, Australia, West Indies and Ireland in Group ‘B’, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe in Group ‘C’ and Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh in Group ‘D’ with two teams advancing to the next round from each group. Afghanistan fromGroup ‘A’, Ireland from Group ‘B’, Zimbabwe fromGroup ‘C’ and Bangladesh from Group ‘D’ are expected to be eliminated when their respective group matches are completed unless there are some surprise results by the minnows. Two teams from each group will move further in the tournament to decide the four semi finalists.
Many players from various countries took part in the recent Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL) held in Sri Lanka and that experience will help them when they turn out for their respective countries.
Some of the big names who are expected to play a vital role for their teams will be New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, and Ross Taylor. Australia’s Hussey brothers, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson and Cameron White. Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, and Umar Gul. England’s Stuart Broad, Jonny Bairstow, Jade Dernbach, Craig Kieswetter, and Graeme Swann. South Africa’s AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, Jacques Kallis, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. West Indies: Bravo brothers, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard. Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardena, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Kumar Sangakkara.
Very interestingly, there are plenty of brothers playing in the T20 World Cup which should be a record of sorts. There is David and Michael Hussey in the Australian team, Dwayne and Darren Bravo with the West Indies, Kevin and Niall O’Brien with the Ireland team, Albie and Morne Morkel from the South African team and Brendon and Nathan McCullum from the New Zealand team. If Yusuf Pathan was selected for the Indian side, he would be also be in the same dressing room along with his other brother Irfan Pathan who is in the team. However, Yusuf’s poor form has deprived him of that opportunity.
The stage is set for yet another exhibition of non stop fireworks coming from the blades of the batsmen while the bowlers use their new ‘tricks’ to stop the batsmen from scoring. Some new heroes will emerge while the ageing stars will try to put yet another final display to please their supporters. In the end, it will be one big party of ‘bang bang’ cricket that will thrill the onlooker while the spectators will fill the stadiums and soak in the T20 excitement.
Matches will be played at Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele. The final is scheduled to take place at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Oct.7, 2012.
The teams taking part are:
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipathi Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Ashoke Dinda, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Yuvraj Singh.
England: Stuart Broad (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.
Afghanistan: Nawroz Mangal (captain), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadeq, Mohammad Jawed Ahmadi, Mohd Nasim Baras, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapur Zadran.
Australia: George Bailey (captain), Daniel Christian, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
Ireland: William Porterfield (captain), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Johan Botha, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Pietersen, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardena (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Akila Dananjaya, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Jeewan Mendis, Dilshan Munaweera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanna.
Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (captain), Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Chris Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Richard Muzhange, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.
Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Abdur Razzak, Abul Hasan, Elias Sunny, Farhad Raza, Jahurul Islam, Junaid Siddique, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mohammad Ashraful, Nasir Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Shakib-Al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Zia-ur-Rahman.
New Zealand: Ross Taylor (captain), Doug Bracewell, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Ronnie Hira, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Abdul Razzaq, Asad Shafiq, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Sami, Nasir Jamshed, Raza Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat.