I am usually into putting up long posts with some intention and on topics which made me itching and for that I need time which is a rare luxury these days for me. But these two guys make me do this, a short little hasty basty post.
First, the Aussie fan in me speaks:
Shaun Tait: only a few days ago I wrote the hailing post about him, hope you’ve watched the video, it is phenomenal, anyway. When I saw the Aussie lineup consisting of
Tait, Nannes, Watson, it was clear that the Pakistani batting would face a serious challenge, all three of them are precise and deadly. Utterly deadly.
Take# 1 22-Jan-2010 :
Punter: Hey MoYo, let see how well you can do this, its your turn first.
MoYo: oh, ahan, hmm ok We will, yeah let’s do it.
Pakistan my home team, reviewing it will be a challenge but fun, so let’s do it.
Currently the No. 1 ODI ranked team and the host of the tournament, what a strong contender of Champions, but wait does home ground add pressure? did any home team won any big tournament? aren’t they tagged choker? Phewwww thats interesting. It is South Africa dude.
South Africa squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Johan Botha, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Albie Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Roelof van der Merwe
Well, could you expect a better squad than this? Big names, old guns, emerging players, young blood, hitters, defenders, match winners everything is there inside. A beautiful mix of cricket players and nicely balanced as a cricketing team specially as a ODI team with some backup options. Just try to make combination of best 11 out of them and you will find out wow it’s not that easy. They got choices for spinners Botha and van der Merwe plus the new addition left arm spinner Robin Peterson,what is left then? In fast bowling attack there is Styen, Nitini and Parnell with some support from all-rounders specially the ever green Kallis. Tsotsobe is an exciting new medium pacer who already have a promising debut against Australia. Then they have some explosive ODI batters like Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Albie Morkel with very strong support of solid batsmen Smith, Amla, Kallis and finisher like Boucher(?), wohoooo.
As obvious their strength lies in there complete and amazingly balanced team. South Africa has lot of choices to select final playing 11 and in each case they have the luxury of taking opposition, pitch and conditions in consideration and select the best that fits in their plans. Batting order is pretty deep with useful batsmen at top middle and lower middle order. Bowling attack probably first time in recent history of South African cricket is complete with full of variety. Fast and stunning, accurate medium pace, left arm swing, leg spin, off spin, left arm spin all covered. In most of the batting and bowling categories they have cricketers of proven quality of very high standards. Yes some are new and young too but that is sometime as good as experience and also good for the future of team. Team’s current position and situation is best time to build up future players of international standards.
From a team like this you can expect best of best performances. South Africa will be a worthy champions, (no choking this time which is likely to be the case). oh and I forgot home advantage, is there any seriously?
Wondering what could be possible weaknesses of this team? First up an interesting one, choking tag, yeah it is still hot. Some people still thinks it is not removed yet and some are positive about it. In recent T20 Cup they lost semi final against Pakistan and were rewarded with choking tag once again. Personally I am mixed up a little bit here, they performed very well in all matches and in semi too but just not the best in semi. On the other hand Pakistan played really well, specially there bowling was very good add Shahid Afridi to it and there wasn’t much South Africa could do.
Beside that they will have some pressure of being playing at home, as there record suggests they haven’t had the best of times in mega events at home. May be this time they will be determined to change it, wait till the action begins.
Finding the best combination out of this squad could also be a little headache for captain with lot of good choices, isn’t it a good thing? Well sometimes it leads to some experiments which could last 2 or 3 matches which you can’t afford in such short tournament provided that experiment may lead to disaster. Although they are in relatively easy group but its ODI cricket and you never know.
South Africa’s first challenge will be against Sri Lanka in opening match of Champions Trophy 2009, which is the strongest team of their group after them. Result of that match may have no effect on semi final qualifier if both of them win there next both matches which are against relatively weak/not well performing teams England and New Zealand.
South Africa is a favorite for the Trophy for sure. Qualification for semis is almost sure on paper. After that you will witness some awesome contest in next two matches (semi and final) to become champion.
So my percentage will be like 80% : 20% win:loss ratio.
Have a great run Proteas!
Here comes second team in review list Sri Lanka and its review (preview?) for ICC Champions Trophy 2009. It should have come quite earlier but my lazy ass doesn’t want to do anything, sorry for that. But no worries here I come.
Sri Lanka has been evolved into a very consistent performing team specially in shorter format of the game. From an innovative attacking team to a reliable balanced team journey is pretty pleasant for Sri Lanka. Mahela Jawerdene led the team very well in recent years but his cricketing form was not at its best from quite some time now so he made a very good and brave decision and stepped out of captaincy at right time. Kumar Sangakkara has proved to be a very good captain so far specially in test series against Pakistan and New Zealand at home although they had home advantage. But he had a real chance to prove his worth in ICCCT in South African conditions against best teams. Sri Lanka is very capable of emerging as a champion, stay put.
A well balanced team as you can easily judge from the squad:
Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dammika Prasad, Lasith Malinga, Thilina Kandamby
Top order is exciting as always, Jayasuriya the grandpa is still hitting like a teenager, just today he had good go on Indians but fell just 2 short of another quick ton. Dilshan is in supreme form with all his innovations and scoops going well can be once again in top batsmen of the trophy like T20 cup in England in June. Then rock solid pair of Sangakkara and Jayawardene sums up their top order.
There problem in middle order and lower middle order just seems to get resolved specially after the inclusion of Angelo Mathews, what a talent he is. A true all-rounder for Sri Lanka, just took 6 top Indian wickets to demolish them in league match of Compaq Cup tri series.
Bowling attack has legend like Murali with Mendis plus fast bowling attack is also looking very good with Kulasekara and Thushara and don’t forget Salinga Malinga.
There strength is in the balanced side with healthy bowling attack, attacking top order and solid and capable middle and lower middle order. When openers set up the platform with quick fire 50-70 runs, a perfect platform is already built for upcoming exciting batsmen. From there on they can build quite a sizeable total to challenge any opponent by there wicked bowling attack.
Kulasekara and Thushara are in-form opening bowling pair for them specially Kulasekara with his ability to swing the ball early on and Thushara with his accuracy. In backup they have Malinga with Mathew. Then come spin pair of double M ( M & M ) Murali and Mendis.
Biggest weakness is in the middle order I think, If you get their top order cheaply you get lot of inroads into there batting line up. When big guns get out early there is a lot of pressure on middle and lower middle order. So early wickets against Sri Lanka is key to success.
Any team which can play there spinners well always has some chances to put them under pressure. Like Pakistan and India has good record against spin duo.
Sri Lanka is in relatively easy group considering England and New Zealand recent ODI form. Simply very bright chances of making it to semi finals.
Semi Final place is almost must for Sri Lanka specially considering the way England and New Zealand are playing. From there on it is always 50/50 as worlds top four teams will be there but still I think they had pretty good chance of even making it to final, yes The Final but no more guess after that *wink*.
So lets say 70% : 30% chances of winning or say making it to final.
PS: They just crushed India in ODI by 139 runs. Sanath and Mathew are the heros of the match, more details here.