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Super eights struggle against spin
By Gowhar Geelani
The English cricket team has been exposed again against the quality spin bowling. After their embarrassing loss to India in the first stage of the ongoing ICC World T20 tourney they have failed to go over the line against the resurgent West Indies in the Super Eights Stage. The ECB management might be ruing its decision to go into the coveted tournament without their undisputed game changer in Kevin Pietersen! The defending champions seem clueless at the moment. On the other hand, West Indies are rising again to new life and vigour. Bowlers like Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree are contributing to team’s success with skilful spin. In the batting department, Gayle, Samuels, Bravo, Pollard, Russels and Charles et-al lend a great balance to the Caribbean side.

Meanwhile, some pretty close contests in the second stage of the competition are infusing fresh life into the tournament, which had failed to attract many spectators during its initial phase.

In Group 1, Sri Lankan team should consider itself fortunate to have prevailed over the Kiwis in a nail biter. After a high-drama tie, only a ‘Super Over’ could decide the winner in the end.

Thanks to special knocks by Gayle and Charles, West Indies registered their first win in the tournament beating England in the Super Eights stage.

In Group 2, Pakistan’s spinners restricted the Proteas to 133 at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, on Friday. South Africa, as always, did fight until the end but couldn’t escape the tag beginning with the letter C. Pakistan were reduced to 76 for 7 at one stage, but Umar Gul and Umar Akmal scripted an unlikely win in the end. Pakistan needs to sort out their balance quickly. Dangerous customer, Abdul Razzaq, must find a place in the playing-XI and Imran Nazir needs to fire against the quality attacks, not just minnows!

In the hindsight, India’s decision of leaving out the match winner in Virender Sehwag against the mighty Aussies seemed pretty strange one. Dropping Viru is like dropping a world cup. Opening with all-rounder Irfan Pathan didn’t help their cause either. India could only score 140 runs against Australia, which only enticed the devastating Aussie opening pair — Watson and Warner — play with supreme confidence and launch attack from the word go. Ashwin, Harbhajan, Chawla and Irfan were taken to cleaners. According to Ian Chappel, India bowling was “rubbish”. Two W’s from Australia, Watson and Warner, hit ten huge sixes between them. Australia successfully chased the target in the 15th over. Kangaroos beat India by nine wickets.

Friday’s contests meant victory and jubilation for Pakistan and defeat and humiliation for India. India needs to play well against Pakistan on Sunday to stay alive in the competition. The Proteas too must win their game against Australia to stay in the tournament.

Different venues in Sri Lanka are behaving differently. If the surfaces at the R Premadasa Stadium, in Colombo, are offering some assistance to the spin bowlers, the pitches at Pallekale International Stadium are a batting paradise and a graveyard for the bowlers. Sometimes the pitches there offer assistance to fast bowlers. The rain ‘gods’ have intervened too much on the tracks at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, in Hambantota. As the tournament progresses, the surfaces will slow down further to offer more assistance to the spinners. That means: Advantage Asian Teams!

Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India and West Indies are perhaps the strongest contenders for the title. Like England, the teams like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand could struggle against the spin in future games.

Initially, the twelve participating teams were divided into four groups: A, B, C and D. In the first stage, the minnows Afghanistan and Ireland and less-celebrated sides Zimbabwe and Bangladesh failed to qualify for the next stage. In the Super Eights Stage, the top eight teams have been divided into two groups viz 1 and 2. Hosts Sri Lanka, West Indies, England and New Zealand have been placed in Group 1, while Pakistan, Australia, India and South Africa are in Group 2. It is too difficult to pick the four semi-finalists, but Pakistan, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, and West Indies seem hot favourites at the moment.

The columnist is a professional journalist and writer with international experience. Feedback at [gowhargeelani@gmail. com]. Kind regards,

Journalist, Writer

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News Updated at : Sunday, September 30, 2012
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