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Thursday, May 13, 2010

First semifinal preview

The ICC Twenty20 World Cup is now approaching the business end of the tournament as only the semifinals and the final are to be played. Any of the four teams, who can peak at the right time can win the trophy. Australia have looked the best of the four teams, but the other three teams can still win it by playing better than their opponents in just couple of matches.

Today's semifinal is between the consistent England and one can say the unpredictable Srilanka. England have shown a level of consistency which isn't expected of them in the shorter formats of the game, but Lanka have tended to depend on a few individual players and whenever they have clicked, the team has done well.

Anyway, let us look at both the teams

Srilanka

The Lankan team has heavily depended on Mahela to get the runs. The classy Mahela hasn't disappointed them as he has played some magnificent knocks. Mahela has shown how to anchor an innings by rotating the strike and by punishing the loose ball on offer. Yes,he has been dropped a few times by the fielders, but just like a class player often does, he has made the opposition pay for their mistakes and has got the big scores.

The rest of the batting line up has been disappointing, but the good sign for them is Sanga got a valuable 66 against the Caribbean team and played a crucial knock against India. The out of form Dilshan too got some runs against India and with Mathews showing his worth against the Indian team by playing a destructive knock, the batting line-up seems to be getting better which isn't good news for England. The major worry for them has been the form of Jayasuriya and it is clear to anyone that he is well past his best and perhaps is picked for his slow left arm bowling. I think with Dilshan getting some runs against India, he should open the batting and not Jayasuriya.

The bowling too has been a bit patchy, but they would be encouraged by the fact that Malinga has found some form as he took wickets against both the Caribbean team and India. His ability to bowl yorkers in the end overs makes him a deadly weapon. Mendis may still play in the semifinal as England have played him in only game, so he can be a bit of surprise element, but the way most teams have played him in recent times, I don't think he can cause too many headaches for England's batsmen. The other option of course is Randiv, who hasn't done a bad job. Lanka would surely miss the services of their expereinced campaigner Murali, but he can't play forever. I don't see their seamers bowling too many overs upfront as they would look at their spinners which also consists of part-timers like Jayasuriya and Dilshan to choke the batsmen.

England

England have been one of the form teams of the tournament and dare I say have looked like a side that can go all the way and win the tournament. The most impressive aspect of the team has been England's fielding and I have never seen England's fielders having such good arms from the boundary.

In the group stages, England played a couple of rain affected games with the D/L method keeping the team on tenterhooks, but in the super eights they were in great form. KP has been the main player and it is good to see that he would play today's match. The ability to come in at three and dominate the opposition attacks even after the power play is over makes him a vital cog in the side. Lumb hasn't always got decent scores, but I would rather have a player, who averages around 20-25, but has a good strike rate to a player getting decent scores, but having a strike rate of just around 100. In t/20 cricket, the overs in the power play becomes so important and any team needs aggressive openers to take advantage of it.

Morgan coming in at 5 is a huge plus for England as he is such a good finisher and the track at St. Lucia should suit his style of batting. The captain has struggled for form which is a bit of worry, but on the other hand, the lower order batsmen like Wright and to a lesser extent Bresnan have chipped in with crucial runs.

The seamers have been steady and I especially, liked the way Bresnan bowled against NZ. The main strength of the England team has been the spinners. Both Swann and Yardy have come in the middle overs and have choked the opposition into making mistakes. Swann is one of the best spinners going around, but Yardy's success may have surprised a few. Yardy shows the importance of having a decent left arm spinner in the team, but it doesn't mean that one can pick any tom, dick and harry like Jadeja.

If I see both the teams, one can say that England have looked the better side. Lanka have depended on Mahela for the runs though, against India a few of their batsmen found some form and their bowling has been a bit patchy.

I think the match would be won or lost in the middle overs as both teams would look to choke the batsmen by using spin. One advantage Lanka has is, their batsmen play spin better and they also have Malinga to bowl those yorkers in the end overs.

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