Tough tests beckon teams in Super Eights

The nonplussed faces of Australians, joyous explosion in the Netherlands and Ireland dug-outs, and some sparks from the Indian camp marked the first week of the World T20 Championship. But that might just be a prelude to the heart-stoppers of the Super Eight.

While all the action in this elite stage will be keenly followed, there will be special attention on Group E, where defending champions India, strong contenders South Africa, hosts England and the unpredictable West Indies battle it out for two places in the semifinals.

That the points earned from group stage matches will not be carried forward to the Super Eight makes it mandatory for teams to strive for victory at every opportunity, giving the round a more competitive look.

The presence of some exciting players make this group a must-watch one. The premier batsmen from all teams have showed terrific form in the group matches. Yuvraj Singh dismantled Bangladesh with a brisk innings and Chris Gayle was at his marauding best while crushing the dreams of Australia.

Kevin Pietersen was absent in the tournament opener against the Netherlands due to injury and England sorely missed him while crashing to one their most embarrassing defeats. Pietersen underlined his value with an aggressive half-century in the must-win tie against Pakistan and his form could be a big relief for England in the Super Eights.
South Africa are entering the Super Eights with a clean record of two wins from as many matches. The form of AB de Villiers, who muscled his way to a fifty against Scotland, is a huge boost for the Proteas.

However, there are already enough indications that bowlers, especially spinners, will not be lambs for slaughter. Pragyan Ojha, Harbhajan Singh and Ajantha Mendis have shown at various junctures that slow bowlers have a critical role to play in the ultra-abridged version.

Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara, whose team will be in Group F along with New Zealand, Ireland and Pakistan, believes spinners will play a huge role in the coming days.
“If you take Twenty20 cricket in England, the successful bowlers have always been the spin bowlers. There’s a new age of cricket now in every country where the slower bowlers have an impact on the game,” Sangakkara said.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who fielded both Ojha and Harbhajan against Bangladesh, echoed the Lankans views. “We have seen the quality of the spinners that every side has got and that is really amazing. In England the bowlers get some help and there could be a one-off venue where you won’t see much of the spinners coming into action. Still I feel all the world-class spinners will come into action in this tournament and they will put pressure on the batsmen,” Dhoni said.

“In games played so far, we have seen spinners being successful, not only quality spinners but even part-timers to some extent, so they will have a bigger impact,” he detailed.

There is not much to choose between the eight teams – Ireland’s ability to catch their opponents napping makes them tricky rivals – and as Dhoni emphasised, the margin between victory and defeat will be close one from now on.

An outburst from batsmen like Gayle and Yuvraj or a magical over from Muttiah Muralitharan and Zaheer Khan could determine the fate of a match.

“If any team takes the other team lightly in this format, it will be a big mistake. This is a very different format, there isn’t much difference between the teams in this format. It all depends on how they perform on the day,” Dhoni stressed.
So be ready for some adrenaline racing moments!

Comments (+)