I’ll start by saying that I’m almost sure one of the sides from the sub-continent will win it. I’m going to rule out Bangladesh because though they’re constantly improving, they’re not quite there just yet and I think they lack the power hitters who can score very quickly when they need to. That said, they’ve got a great chance of qualifying for the next stage and as one of the host teams.
Sri Lanka have been one of the class acts of ODI cricket for the last fifteen years but this current crop of players isn’t quite as good as some of the other sides they’ve had in the past. The likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga are wonderful players but maybe the team is just a little too reliant on them. They’ll have a decent tournament in their favourite conditions but I don’t think they’ll go all the way.
India are the clear favourites and that’s for a reason. I was going to try and identify who I thought their best players were but before I knew it I’d found myself jotting down seven or eight names; they’re that good and their side has that many match winners.
If I were to pick just one though it would be that man Virender Sehwag. People talk about him as one of the great entertainers but that only tells half the story. Those big sixes at the top of the order are great to watch but dispatching the opening bowlers to every part of the ground also puts the opposition under huge pressure from very early on. He scores plenty of runs and he scores them very quickly and is probably the player in world cricket who is most capable of winning a match on his own.
One thing that will be very important in this tournament is contributions from the bowlers with the bat. These days in ODI cricket it’s not enough to just be able to bowl, unless your name is Muttiah Muralitharan maybe. And that’s another area where India excel. Harbajhan Singh has become an incredibly destructive batsman over the last couple of years and Zaheer Khan can clear the fence as well. These two will come in at eight and nine so that gives you an idea of just how deep they bat. They’re definitely the team to beat.
Then there’s Pakistan. They may be missing three crucial players for the reasons we all know but even without them there’s so much talent in this team you just can’t write them off. They’re yet to announce their captain for the tournament (they’re typically the only side not to have done so yet) but I think they’ll go with Misbah Ul-Haq who impressed in the recent Test Series out in New Zealand, the first time he’s been in charge.
The return of Younis Khan after almost a year in the international wilderness is of huge importance and never rule out Shoaib Akhtar either. He’s not as young, quick or fit as he once was but he’s still a formidable opponent. As for Shahid Afridi, well we’ll just have to wait to see which Afridi turns up next month but we all know what he’s capable of.
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. Ã‚Â© The Sporting Exchange Limited
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BIOGRAPHY: Eric Bailly