ICL: Indian Cricket League

Form teams rely on opening batsmen at World Cup


The World Cup is turning into a showcase for top opening batsmen.

Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa are being led from the front and living up to their billing as likely World Cup semifinalists.

The wickets in the Caribbean are, once any early moisture has evaporated from the pitch, offering batsmen a friendly track on which to hit big scores. All openers need to do, it seems, is survive the first few overs and then take advantage.

Each of the form teams so far has a player at the top of the order capable of patiently negotiating the tricky opening spell before hitting out to up the pace and help their teams to big totals.

Australia’s Matthew Hayden, South Africa’s Graeme Smith, Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya and New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming have dominated attacks to fill the first four places in the run-scoring charts.

Since ending his international retirement, the 37-year-old Jayasuriya hit his sixth century against West Indies on Sunday. His team would almost certainly not be challenging for a place in the top four of the Super 8s without him.

Hard work is a recurring theme when the subject of these openers comes up.

It applies in practice, in getting used to conditions and in rallying teammates with big performances.

Hayden, who has a tournament high 395 runs from five innings, was out of Australia’s team for about a year and had to struggle to get back his place in time for the World Cup.

He hit 158 to set up victory over West Indies and a 66-ball century against South Africa, the quickest ever at the World Cup.

New Zealand captain Fleming hit an unbeaten 102 off 92 balls in Monday’s nine-wicket win over Bangladesh to take his team level with Australia atop the Super 8s standings.

The quickfire manner in which Fleming and Hamish Marshall knocked off the winning runs with almost 21 overs to spare came two days a similar performance against the same opponents by Australia openers Hayden and Adam Gilchrist.

It took Fleming to 280 runs for the tournament and could give the Kiwis an edge if qualification for the semifinals has to be decided by run rate.

England is one team that has struggled to get used to conditions, its openers fulfilling their brief to start solidly but not going on to get to a big total.

Source:The News

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2007 and is filed under Cricket.

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