This World Twenty20 is making a convert of me
The World Twenty20 has started in Bangladesh and what electrifying cricket it has been. As many of you may already know, I am not a big fan of T20 cricket, but this tournament has strangely captured my attention.
Any fan of sports who loves competition would get hooked on this tournament, as many games are won or lost by the smallest of margins.
What makes Twenty20 cricket so special is that it is a fast version of the game. The format was made specifically as a crowd pleaser — to entertain the spectators — and this tournament has done just that.
The World Twenty20 started with two groups of Associate members, along with Bangladesh in one group and Zimbabwe in the other. The two groups played a round-robin qualifier with the winners of each group joining the elite cricket nations in a Super 10 series.
During the first round with the Associate nations, many would assume that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe with their experience would be automatic favourites. However, the T20 game somewhat evens the playing field. All it takes is for one player to get into the zone and there could be a big upset.
What do I mean by a zone? The zone is when a batsman is hitting the ball freely to all parts of the field and he is unstoppable on the day.
The qualifiers were a lot closer than expected: Bangladesh had the same winning record as Nepal, but went through on net run-rate. In the other group, it came down to the last game. If Ireland won they would automatically qualify, but if they lost, either the Netherlands or Zimbabwe would go through, depending on net run-rate. Zimbabwe would go on to win their game, which put pressure on the other two teams. What was to come was nothing short of spectacular.
The Netherlands versus Ireland, in the match to decide the final place in group B. Ireland would bat and post a respectable total of 189. The Netherlands had to score of 190 runs in 14.2 balls to secure a place in the next round. What happened next was nothing short of amazing.
Opener Stephen Myburgh scored 63 runs, with his fifty coming off of only 17 balls, which equalled the second-fastest fifty in the format. The Netherlands also posted a world-record 91 runs off the six-over powerplay.
After Myburgh's heroics, Tom Cooper followed by blazing six sixes on his way to scoring 45; talk about being in the zone. Netherlands would go on and hit a world-record 19 sixes in one innings and score 193 for four in 13.5 overs to win the group. You had to see it to believe it!
Now we are into the Super 10 stage and it is any team's tournament to win.
Part of the reason I never liked T20 is because batsmen tend to just swipe and play unorthodox cricket shots. However, this tournament, while I have seen some unorthodox batting, I have also seen some superb strokeplay. The one area I have gained some satisfaction from this game is the captaincy. They are put under immense pressure and tactics are so important. Bowlers are constantly under pressure and have to find various ways to restrict the opposition.
With the Super 10 in progress, games will come thick and fast. Every game is important because even if you lose, you do not want to lose big because of net run-rate. The top two from each group go through to the semi-finals and net run rate could be the deciding factor.
So far the one area of the game that has been somewhat of a letdown on occasion is the fielding. Don't get me wrong, there have been some great catches and excellent stops, but the number of catches that have been dropped is incredible. During one game, the commentator even questioned whether it could be the lighting that caused the players to drop catches or the dew from playing at night.
With Sri Lanka and India looking set to qualify to the semi-finals from their respective groups, the question is: who will join them? Over the next few days, there will be some intense cricket with lots to play for. Which player or players will make a name for themselves? At the end of the day, it could all come down to who bowls and fields the best under pressure.
Quote of the week: Great champions have an enormous sense of pride. The people who excel are those who are driven to show the world and prove to themselves just how good they are.
— Nancy Lopez