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SL lack intelligent players

cricket Updated: Sep 29, 2012 01:42 IST

Hindustan Times
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When cricket lovers read this article, they will know the outcome of the India and Pakistan games. The results will be important for the big game on Sunday, because if both India and Pakistan win, they will be high on confidence in the crunch match.

India-Pakistan is always a big match and the players are under pressure. Whoever loses their first match of the Super Eights will have that pressure doubled as they will carry the thought of losing again on Sunday, which might well be the end of the road.

Spin masters

India and Pakistan look far ahead than the others due to their supremacy in spin. The third team from the sub-continent, Sri Lanka, are not impressive and I have been saying this from Day One that even though they are playing on home soil, they don't have the team to win a big tournament. I am saying this despite Sri Lanka winning their first match against New Zealand.

The reason why I am not backing Sri Lanka is because they don't have intelligent players. Besides Lasith Malinga, you don't have an intelligent bowler in the squad. There has been a lot of talk about Ajantha Mendis, but to be honest he is ordinary.

He doesn't have variation of pace and with the stuff he delivers, Mendis can succeed only on rough, scuffed up pitches. He has got a different action and for that batsmen take time to pick him, which is a crucial factor in the T20 format. But on the whole, Mendis is not in the class of Saeed Ajmal and Harbhajan Singh.

Top heavy

The Sri Lanka batting is also top heavy. They will have to rely on the top three, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. After them, there is Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis but I don't believe they have the batting for a big occasion.

For me, the team which has the potential to surprise all is the West Indies. Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels have become good players of spin because of their involvement in the IPL, Sri Lankan and Bangladesh Premier league.

Interestingly, even Johnson Charles played spin quite well against England. So the Caribbeans, with their natural ability to play fast bowling, combined with the capability to handle spinners on sub-continent pitches, can surprise many. Also, they have a balanced bowling — Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampal with the new ball, and Sunil Naraine, Gayle and Samuels in the spin department.

Samuel Badree may take time to mature as a spinner in other formats, but he is a handy bowler for the T20 version. Along with this you have Andre Russel and Darren Sammy to chip in. Variety is evident in the West Indies attack.

If one has to pick a winner between these two teams, I would say the West Indies hold the edge. To be honest, they can be the title winners.

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The writer is ex-Pakistan captain