Sports Corner : Conclave of Contenders
With the ICC World Cup T20 taking place in Bharat, many have already predicted Bharat as potential favourites to win the tournament
Only few days are left for the sixth edition of ICC T20 World Cup and almost all the teams have geared up to give their best in the tournament. Teams of the South Asian subcontinent are also testing their potential in the ongoing Asia cup in Bangladesh. In the T20 format, sometimes even a pair of players can change the picture but generally it has to be a team effort. Bharat has already established itself in this format and will also have the advantage of playing on the home turf. That is why Bharat is considered as the frontrunner in winning the title. The only alarming aspect is since its inception in 2007, no major contenders could win title on home ground and Bharat will be aiming to buck the trend this time.
For the first time in the cricket history, the ICC has included two women in its list of umpires for the T20 World Cup to be held in Bharat. Kathleen Cross of New Zealand will make history when she officiates at the Pakistan-Bangladesh women’s match along with Bharat’s Anil Chaudhary on March 16 in Chennai.
In 2007, when the first edition of T20 world Cup was held in South Africa, nobody had even dreamt that Bharat would win the inaugural title of T20 World Cup. No senior player was ready to participate in the tournament and finally board had decided to send a young team under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the team succeeded in lifting the cup. But in subsequent four editions, they failed to perform. Last time, the team lost to Sri Lanka in the finals held in Bangladesh. Virat Kohli’s magnificent knock of 77 went in vain due to lack of support from other team mates.
Bharat as Potential winner
Team Bharat, recently, is performing in great fashion under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. After a clean sweep on 3-0 in Australia against Australia in T20, the team defeated Sri Lanka by 2-1. The winning performance of the team is continued in the ongoing Asia Cup. The flamboyant but consistent batting of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli is the biggest strength of the team. Besides them, Raina is also a game changer. Yuvraj is also gaining his cricketing touch back. But the most lethal weapon on Bharateeya pitches will be the spin attack led by R Ashwin. Though there is nothing like home advantage in T20 cricket, as most of the players of all the big teams have played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and understand the Bharateeya wickets well. Still, the spin attack of Ashwin and Jadeja is a tricky affair for many. When it is supported by the aggression of Nehra and Bumrah, the team looks formidable.
On top of it, the team has good electriying fielders who can lift the morale of the team. Spin attack lead by R ashwin and part-timer Jadeja will be Dhoni’s major weapon against opponents. On the other hand, Ashish Nehra is in good touch and capable to lead the pace attack with newcomers like Jasprit Bumrah. Nehra has the ability to give world-class batsmen a run for their money. In the past seasons of IPL, he has proved himself which shows that still lot of cricket is left in him. The team has the ingredients and talent to win the tournament.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan can be a challenger
Sri Lanka has a penchant to play well in the shortest format. Being a defending champion and No.1 in ICC T20 rankings, Sri Lankans have a chance to make it to the finals of the World T20 2016. But if we look at their recent performances, the team has not performed well in recent series. Even the team lost to Bangladesh in Asia Cup. Sri Lanka has some quality players like Dilshan, Mathews, Thisara Perera but the main weapon for them would be Lasith Malinga. After losing series to Bharat, Sri Lankans are in a mood to take revenge and Malinga can be their trump card. He has the ability to win matches with his quality bowling. One of the favourable things for Sri Lanka will be the familiar conditions. They are very much familiar to the subcontinent conditions.
On the other hand Pakistani team is not as strong as they it in the past. There is no depth in their batting line up and this will definitely affect the team’s performance. But strong bowling attack will give advantage to the team. According to the experts, Pakistan has best fast-bowling attackers, but the problem is that they can’t do much on flat wickets in Bharat.
Australia and South Africa, other contenders
With the best T20 players in the squad, both the teams have caliber to make it to the semi-finals or finals. South Africa has never won ICC event for that matter but the team is very strong. Players like AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller and Dale Steyn have the potential to change the game anytime. The team will definitely try to remove their ‘Chokers’ tag. Similarly Australia has players like David warner, Aaron Finch, Steven smith who are great performers of T20 format. Even Finch holds the record of highest score of 156 in T20 format. With a perfect squad, Australia has a chance to win T20 world Cup for the first time.
Can’t Ignore Other Teams
Whenever it comes to blasting batting performance in T20 format, the first name striking in the mind is Chris Gayle. He has the capability to bind the opposition to dance on his tunes. He has the ability to win matches on his own. Absence of Sunil Narine
and Keiron Pollard will definitely affect the teams performance but Dwayne Bravo can be the helping hand. The West Indies team had won the title in 2012.
On the other hand England and New Zealand will also give tough competition to other teams. The problem with both the teams is they are not friendly with slow and spiny tracks. Brandon Mckullam’s absence will impact the team’s performance in this format.
Bharat have the best balanced side and has all the potential to win the T-20 World Cup. All the players in the team showed good form in the IPL and in the recent series. Overall team looks quite balanced.
Manoj Chaturvedi (With inputs from Nishant Kr Azad)