ICL: Indian Cricket League

Players to watch out for at the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup


If Twenty20 cricket is all about big hitting and electrifying action, a star-studded field at the world championships promises high-octane thrills. Here is a selection of players who could be the shining stars at the tournament to be played in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban from September 11-24.

Australia: The undisputed world champions possess a brutal opening pair in Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. Andrew Symonds is an ideal T20 player with a penchant for big shots besides being a steady bowler and brilliant fielder.

Fiery fast bowler Brett Lee returns to bolster the pace attack after missing the World Cup due to injury. Then there is captain Ricky Ponting, widely acknowledged as the finest contemporary batsman.

South Africa: Skipper Graeme Smith is the leading scorer in Twenty20 internationals with 259 runs from five matches, including three half-centuries. Justin Kemp and Abraham de Villiers are exciting stroke players.

Watch out for veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock who is out to prove that Twenty20 cricket is not just a young man’s game. He could get enough help on fresh wickets to trouble the best batsmen and remains a superb finisher with the bat.

England: Kevin Pietersen returns to his former homeland as one of the finest limited-overs batsmen. Andrew Flintoff will have to dominate with both bat and ball although his fitness remains a concern. The man to watch is young Luke Wright, a superb striker of the ball capable of turning the match on his own.

Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya, the eldest player in the tournament at 38, is an explosive batsman and useful left-arm spinner. Captain Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara comprise a formidable middle-order. Lasith Malinga’s sling-arm action is capable of destroying the best line-ups.

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni leads a depleted team missing veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. A brilliant stroke player and wicket-keeper, Dhoni will captain from the front.

Virender Sehwag returns to blast his way out of trouble at the top of the order. The short format also suits Yuvraj Singh’s creative stroke play.

Pakistan: The Twenty20 game suits Shahid Afridi so much, it could well have been invented with him in mind.

A match-winner who can turn the game on his own with both bat and ball. Younis Khan and captain Shoaib Malik steady an unpredictable batting. Rivals, however, will be happy that pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar was sent home after a bust up with team-mate Mohammad Asif.

West Indies: Chris Gayle should enjoy himself at the top of the order with his powerful hitting and off-spin bowling, but the West Indies will look to seasoned Shivnarine Chanderpaul and captain Ramnaresh Sarwan to provide stability to the middle-order. Dwayne Bravo has made a mark in conventional limited-overs cricket with quick runs and steady seam bowling at the death.

New Zealand: Watch out for Scott Styris and Craig McMillan, but the man who could do the most damage with the bat is wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum. Shane Bond remains one of the world’s most feared fast bowlers and his strike power can rattle any team. A team that includes the likes of Jacob Oram and Lou Vincent has to be taken seriously.

Bangladesh: India and South Africa will never forget the stunning defeats at the hands of the Test minnows in the World Cup earlier this year. Young captain Mohammad Ashraful remains the star batsman whose wide variety of stroke play suits the shortest version of the game. Mohammad Nazimuddin, aged 21, is an exciting batsman while Mashrafe Mortaza is the team’s bowling kingpin.

Zimbabwe, Scotland and Kenya: The minnows have their own achievers, like the hugely-talented Zimbabwean Tatendu Taibu, Steve Tikolo of Kenya and Ryan Watson of Scotland. The short format is a boon for lesser teams because of its unpredictable nature, so these teams will be desperate to prove they are not there just to make up the numbers.

Source:Cricket News

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