Yeh cup kahin nahin jaayega?

June 4, 2009

This is the story doing the rounds these days and it is not surprising why the cricketers, the bookies and the world of cricket are backing India to defend the world T20 title. India seems to have match breakers lined up one after the other and seem really strong on paper . Detractors are talking about the fatigue stemming from the IPL but I don’t think that will be a factor if India don’t win it this time. I think the problem if et all will be in the bowling department because I find it hard to fathom seven match winning batsmen faltering all at once in the same match.

Having seen T20 for a couple of years now starting with those heady days in South Africa, I have come to the conclusion that the batting is probably the lesser key in this game. Now wait, I am not saying batting doesn’t count but when you start talking crunch time, especially in this format, it is the bowlers who will make the difference. Batsmen are expected to fire away while bowlers are supposed to be ambushed in this format so when the bowlers start making moves is when the game changes, and that is where the key lies. Let me explain.

No matter how strong your batting line up, there is only so much it can do if you are faced with Mt. Everest to climb. If a batting line up is left to chase 200 plus, then I would back the bowling side to defend it. And that is where the bowlers come in. In this format one expects the bowlers to get murdered anyway but whatever they do not give away, whatever they save is like runs scored for the team. If you were following the warm up games, you would have noticed that India leaked like crazy in the end in both the matches and even though Pakistan was beaten easily, Kiwis pulled through because Indians faltered while Vettori spun a web!

So, if we look at the sides from this aspect, then one team I would back is the Springboks. Led by Dale Steyn, Ntini, Morne Morkel, Van Der Merwe and the wily Botha it is probably the best bowling line up in the tournament. Every other team has one or two good bowlers but not such a good line up; India’s trumps are probably Ishant Sharma, Bhajji? (somehow I feel he is overrated) and ZaK (if he plays), Aussies rely on Mitchell Johnson, Kiwis on Vettori, Pakistan on Tanvir and Gul, Sri Lanka on Malinga and Murali, Windies on Fidel Edwards and England on pretty much no body with Flintoff gone.

Having said that, we can’t count out the batting either. And there it comes down to simply match breakers. India outnumber everyone in that regard with a line up to scare anyone from Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvi, Rohit, Raina, Dhoni to the Pathans, Springboks have Smith, Gibbs and AB to fire and Kallis and Duminy to fall back upon, Aussies have Warner, Ponting and possibly Shane Watson with Clarke and Hussey to support, Pakistan – who knows, Misbah and Younus maybe?, Windies have Chris Gayle to fire and Chanderpaul to rest upon, Sri Lanka got Jayasuriya and Dilshan with Sangakarra and Jaywardene to follow, Kiwis rest on McCullum and Ross Taylor while England depend on KP, Ravi Bopara and Collingwood. So if you look at it again, each team has one or two match breakers and one or two steady ships but the rest can falter easily except India, South Africa and Australia because they got a few stable hands too in the team along with a lot more game breakers.

This zeroes me down to my two finalists .. India and South Africa .. most balanced .. most equipped although India has the upper edge in batting while South Africa rules in bowling . Will never count the Aussies out, so they should make one semi-final and I will leave a toss up for the fourth place . Don’t expect England or Windies to make it. Most likely Sri Lanka should prevail but then one could never trust Pakistan and if Kiwis play out of their skins then who knows.

Right then, we are all set to go … Yeh cup kahin nahin jaayega !!!

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