Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The stage all set for fast and furious action

COLOMBO, September 18, 2012

Twenty20 is often lost between its two banal perceptions. It is either an after-thought attached to a bilateral series featuring Tests and ODIs or it is the 'commercial trickster' that lures cricketers away from their national obligations, a rant often heard during the Indian Premier League.

However, once in two years the willow game's shortest format side-steps these arguments and towers above everything. The ICC World Twenty20 has zoomed in and as it commences with the match between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe at Hambantota on Tuesday and wends its way through Pallekele and Colombo, fans will hope for endless adrenaline surges.

The previous three editions — in South Africa, 2007; England, 2009; and the West Indies, 2010 — threw up winners from sport's favourite theme of dark horses bucking the odds.


India, initially a nervous bride when it came to Twenty20, embraced the concept with gusto and won the cup in 2007. Pakistan, the perennial mystery team that can dismantle rivals or implode, was ecstatic in 2009. And England finally clinched a global tournament during the summer of 2010.

Leading into the current event, India steps in after victories over Sri Lanka and New Zealand though the Black Caps won the lone Twenty20 at Chennai.

However, last season's losses in England and Australia continue to hurt and a part of that angst can be assuaged here with a title win, but work needs to be done as India failed in both the 2009 and 2010 ICC World Twenty20.

Familiarity may breed contempt but in India's case, its frequent visits to the Emerald Isle, has helped it to be aware of the conditions that will greet the squad over the next three weeks, presuming that M.S. Dhoni's men will sail through the group and super-eight stages.

India will open its campaign with the Group 'A' match against Afghanistan at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Wednesday and then clash with England on September 23.

Afghanistan, despite all the romance about cricket thriving in a hinterland echoing with the odd rattle of the Kalashnikovs, cannot be expected to test superior rivals while defending champion England is without its wayward talisman — Kevin Pietersen.

The man, who helped England win in 2010, is part of the commentary team!

India also can draw inspiration from Yuvraj Singh's return, but, understandably, the southpaw's recovery from cancer has obscured the back-in-the-fold tale of Harbhajan Singh.

Among the rest, Australia will be itching to correct the aberration of being ranked 10th below Ireland, while South Africa needs to show that in an ICC event, it has the nerve to last the distance.

On the home front, Sri Lanka may not have had the best of times after finishing runner-up in the 2011 50-over World Cup but being the host and with its players coming in after the recent Sri Lanka Premier League, Mahela Jayawardene's men will be tough to beat.

The West Indies, with men like Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine, who have flourished in the Indian Premier League, can be dangerous floaters.

Meanwhile, Group D, with its mix of Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh, will be a tough corner.

"The World is playing," is a banner that greets visitors arriving in Colombo and after the final on October 7, one team will be lording over the globe.

For the Indian fan, nothing could be better than Dhoni holding aloft the trophy but that's easier said than done.
News From: http://www.7StarNews.com

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