• Subscribe RSS
  • England meets the Netherlands in the opener

    Bright sunshine and cloud cover alternated on a breezy Thursday here.

    Amidst nature’s captivating byplay in this sleepy northern England town, arrived a dramatic piece of news from London — Andrew Symonds was in big trouble once again.

    Symonds’s career has been a blaze of colour one moment and a sea of darkness the next — a rough ride of extreme swings in fortunes.

    The influential cricketer was being sent home for yet another breach of the team rules pertaining, principally, to consumption of alcohol.

    Ahead of ICC World Twenty20 beginning at Lord’s on Friday — host England takes on Netherlands in the opener — the star-studded competition could have done without an incident of this kind.

    A cricketer who can impose himself on a game or self-destruct, Symonds’s international career has possibly reached its last stop.

    The Symonds issue took the spotlight away from India’s commanding performance against Pakistan in a practice match at a packed Oval on Wednesday.

    While a warm-up game is never quite the real thing, an India-Pakistan duel generates greater levels of intensity. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men were on the ball.

    The defending champion has the problem of the plenty in batting. And Rohit Sharma has given the side another explosive option at the top of the order.

    Rohit’s stunning bat speed was in focus again as he dismantled the Pakistan attack. It is this aspect of his batsmanship that enables Rohit to strike even good length balls to the cover fence off a horizontal blade, on his front-foot. He can also whip or pull the delivery in a flash.

    The left-handed Gautam Gambhir wisely played second fiddle on a night when Rohit put his foot on the accelerator.

    Rohit’s versatality — he is a nerveless finisher as well — suggests that once Virender Sehwag regains fitness, Dhoni will have to think long and hard before pencilling down his batting order.

    Outstanding show

    Ishant Sharma was outstanding with the ball; the lanky paceman ran into a nice rhythm and bowled with the sort of control that belied his age.

    A vibrant India fielded with zest. The Indians were quick on the ball and released the sphere quickly.

    However, India’s end-game skills in bowling and batting came under scrutiny in the practice match against the Kiwis. New Zealand, a coherent bunch of committed cricketers rather than a formidable unit, has been the bogey team for India in this format.

    India, which begins its campaign against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Saturday, should canter to the Super Eight stage, and then progress to the semifinals. From the last four stage, it is anybody’s tournament.

    Pakistan is missing the precision and away movement of Mohammed Asif. And reverse swing — Pakistan’s area of strength — is not quite a factor in a 20-over innings.

    South Africa has a strong captain in Graeme Smith, power-hitters and all-round strength. The versatile side is eying the title but will have to hold its nerve at the crunch.

    Symonds’s absence will hurt Australia’s chances but the team still has strokeplayers, multi-dimensional cricketers and worthy pacemen in equal measure. Someone like the dynamic Mitchell Johnson could emerge the player of the tournament. On the flip side, the Aussies are thin in the spin department.

    Sri Lanka is a team of skill, tact and firepower. Sanath Jayasuriya’s starts and Lasith Malinga’s strikes hold the key to the Lankan fortunes. Kumar Sangakkara is an able captain.

    Unpredictable Windies

    The unpredictable West Indies with Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards in its ranks can be dangerous if it makes the knock-out stage.

    And England cannot be brushed aside on home turf. The gifted Kevin Pietersen will be eager to prove a point in Twenty20 cricket. The showman should relish the stage.

    But then, England could face some searching questions from a certain Dirk Nannes first up.

    Posted in Labels: |