KARACHI: While the Asian trio of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka pose a decent threat of mauling their opponents en route to glory, the southern hemisphere trio of the formidable ‘chokers’ South Africa, the ‘nearly-there’ New Zealand and the ‘undeniable’ Australia remain a huge obstacle.
New Zealand and South Africa made it past the first hurdle last year but the duo had their title-dreams shattered by eventual champions Pakistan. The Australians, however, have barely had time to dream so quick was their exit from the tournament.
The golden boys remain a potent threat
Despite its poor record in the shortest form of international cricket – winning just 15 of their 29 Twenty20 internationals – Australia remains one team that cannot be ruled out of walking away with a trophy every time they enter a tournament.
The current world champions and the Champions Trophy holders, Australia have won four of their last five T20s and with the likes of the hardhitting David Warner, the irrefutable Shane Watson and the dangerous Shaun Tait, the warning bells are already ringing for the opposition. Led by Michael Clarke, the side will also see Dirk Nannes in yellow instead of orange - he represented Netherlands last year in England and was instrumental in his side’s shock win over the hosts in the tournament-opener.
And with no Ashes to divert their attention, the Australians may well put their 110 per cent into the four-hour format to bear fruit, one that is missing from their trophy cabinet.
‘Chokers’ may well become the kings
South Africa may well be thanking the Indian Premier League in two weeks for instilling the attacking mentality into its players.
Albie Morkle was part of the winning unit, the Chennai Super Kings, while Dale Steyn proved his worth with the ball for Bangalore. Jaques Kallis, opening for the same outfit, scored at will while captain Graeme Smith got the much needed break courtesy a broken thumb.
The South Africans remained favourites in England until they faced a rejuvenated and inspired Shahid Afridi who handed them a ticket home - sealed with a kiss. The addition of Loots Bosman will provide the flair up the order but the exciting talent that is the 19-year-old Wayne Parnell, who was South Africa’s star finding of the 2009 World Twenty20, will be sorely missed.
Providing South Africa take time getting acclimatised to the conditions, their second match – against Afghanistan – may well prove to be more than just a stroll that the whole world expects.
Vettori desperate for onfield support
New Zealand have always been a nearly-there side. It gathers support, momentum and wins.
However, as things start heating up and wins become a necessity rather than a bonus, the team falls flat, more so due to lack of support for captain Daniel Vettori than due to lack of talent. Vettori, apart from being the chairman of New Zealand Cricket, is everything to New Zealand’s cricket: scoring runs, taking wickets, plotting other teams’ downfalls, restricting runs, inflicting run-outs and stroking the bristled chin.
However, with the oftenmisfiring Brendon McCullum promising glimpses of useful, and regular, contribution, and the availability of Shane Bond, Vettori may well find time to relax on and off the field. And with the slow and turning pitches in the Caribbean, Vettori will also get to enjoy his primary role in the team —as a spinner.