KARACHI: The 2010 ICC World Twenty20 is less than a week old and already moving into the business end of the tournament with teams finalised for the Super-Eights.
The format of the tournament allowed slight hiccups and bizarre entry into the second round in the case of England who went through without winning either of their matches. However, with the eight entrants into the Super-Eights vying for four semi-final berths, winning is all that matters in the next six days.
The road ahead
Each team will play three matches in the Super-Eights with the format broken down into two groups: Group E and Group F. No points from the group stage will be carried forward and the top two teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals where the team placed first in Group E will play the team placed second in Group F and the team placed first in Group F will play the team placed second in Group E.
The winners of the semi-finals will contest the final. With early entries to the Super Eight groups and most of the tournament minnows being eliminated , this round will pit the world’s best against each other and ultimately decide the champions of Twenty20 cricket.
Former champions’ round robin
In group F, India will have to battle it out with three world champions to seal one of two semi-final slots from their cluster when the Super Eights begins at the Kensington Oval tomorrow. India have been drawn along with West Indies, Sri Lanka and Australia, who by far look the best equipped allround team capable of claiming the coveted trophy. India did well in the group stage, trouncing debutants Afghanistan and South Africa by big margins.
West Indies steal Irish luck
Despite talent in their ranks, to beat West Indies in their own backyard will not be a walk in the park. Nonetheless, it can be argued that the West Indies had it easy to start with, winning over England with a little help from mother nature as their massive 191-run target was revised to 60 from six overs with all wickets in hand. Overcoming Ireland was not problematic at all.
Hiding behind the clouds
Meanwhile, England, who sneaked into Super Eights, will play South Africa, New Zealand and most likely Pakistan in Group ‘E’, the relatively easier one of the two groups. The biggest factor in England’s qualification was rain. It almost eliminated them when they lost against the West Indies but saved them from humiliation when it prevented Ireland from overhauling their dismal total and the match was declared a draw due to heavy downpour.
Nonetheless, barring more rain, England remain still strong contenders if they can repeat their first match performance consistently. The second round of the tournament alone, offers a winner’s purse of $0.8 million.
Brendon McCullum’s form
Twenty20’s highest runscorer so far with a 158 not out innings to his name, he was dubbed New Zealand’s Gilchrist in 2005 but fell sadly for a duck to an old nemesis, Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga, in their opening match. One of IPL’s biggest hitters, he has been quiet in the tournament so far, scoring a total of just 22 runs in the tournament so far.
Ajantha Mendis’ disappearing act
The ‘doosra’ bowler has taken only one wicket this tournament and with Muttiah Muralitharan out due to an injury, he will expected to step up to the plate and be Sri lanka’s wicket-taking spinner, especially given the fact that his own best bowling figures in Twenty20 (four for nine) are not very far from the format’s best bowlers.
Jayawerdene’s big hitting
The Sri Lankan, promoted to the opener’s slot, scored the winning century against Zimbabwe, which incidentally, also contained the fastest half century (27 balls) of the World Twenty20. He now has a total 181 runs in this year’s tournament, making him its highest scorer. Sri Lanka will be looking to him, alongwith Sangakkara to carry their batting.
The numbers say it all for the former Ireland star. He top-scored in both of England’s matches, a fightto- the-end 55 against the West Indies to take them to a massive 191 (which was later reduced due to rain) and a face-saving 45 run stand against Ireland when none of his team-mates were able to withstand the Irish attack.
The other McCullum
Starred with the bat in one and with the ball in the other, the younger of the two McCullums, Nathan, took three wickets in one over against Zimbabwe, limiting them to 84 and came to the Kiwi’s rescue in their first match against Sri Lanka, and under pressure conditions, scored 16 off six balls, sealing the match with a six off the penultimate ball.