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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014
Fans will miss top power-hitters
AFP
New Delhi, September 18, 2009
First Published: 10:49 IST(18/9/2009)
Last Updated: 10:52 IST(18/9/2009)
Bowlers could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief ahead of the Champions Trophy which starts in South Africa next Tuesday, for some of the world's top big-hitters will be missing in action.

England duo of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, and Indian opener Virender Sehwag are recovering from injuries, with all of them renowned for ruining bowlers' reputation with their innovative, clean and hard hitting.

When Sehwag fires, India are always assured of setting or chasing a stiff target. Not afraid of going after the bowling early in his innings, he is known for playing unorthodox shots to put the opposition on the back-foot.

He has been a key figure in India's batting line-up for many years, having forged an effective opening combination with Sachin Tendulkar.

"India will miss Sehwag's explosiveness at the top," legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar recently wrote in his column.

"Opposition teams fear him because he gets the side off to an electric start that can be used as a platform for a mammoth total."

Sehwag is more than just a match-winning batsman because he can also provide crucial breakthroughs with his tidy part-time off-spin.

While India have depth in batting to absorb Sehwag's absence, England will find it difficult to pose a serious threat to big teams without key batsman Pietersen and all-rounder Flintoff.

"It is always hard to be without your two best players, but that's the reality we are in," England captain Andrew Strauss said after losing the recent one-day series against Australia.

"It's not going to be changing for a while so other people have to stand up. Hopefully, when they do return we have got more potential match-winners.

"In a good, functioning one-day team you have got match-winners everywhere. The top six have all got to be capable of getting one-day international hundreds. And hundreds generally win you games."

Pietersen is one of the most attractive batsmen in the world, having the ability to change the course of a match in a few overs with his breathtaking strokes. His switch-hitting has already given bowlers plenty of headaches.

As if the absence of one match-winner was not enough to dent England's prowess, came the news that Flintoff was also ruled out of the tournament.

Flintoff, who quit Test cricket after the recent Ashes series, is a proven match-winner with both bat and ball in all forms of the game.

England have often relied on his aggressive batting and sharp seam bowling to gain a big advantage. Their recent one-day series defeat against Australia only proves how badly they missed their match-winning duo.

While England, Champions Trophy runners-up at home in 2004, will be under strength without Pietersen and Flintoff, cricket will also be poorer without the three quality batsmen.


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