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World Premiere today

cricket Updated: Jun 05, 2009 00:20 IST
Venkat Ananth
Venkat Ananth
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

It's been almost two years since the world's top cricketers converged on a platform to show what they're made of. If the atmosphere at the World T20 in South Africa was anything to go by, England promises to be bigger and better. A typical English summer - occasional sun, some wind and chilly evenings --- awaits the teams as they prepare for the June 5 kickoff.

True to the nature of T20 cricket, some of the warm-up matches have been exciting, a few one-sided, and others filled with solo performances.

Teams like South Africa and Australia have started off with a bang while some like Pakistan have begun sluggishly but would be hoping that they deliver when the real business kicks off.

South Africa's completeness makes them one of the favourites, but only if they set their ICC tournament record straight.

Then there is New Zealand, a team that lifts itself on the world stage.

For defending champions India, it's been a mixed bag so far. After a shaky performance against New Zealand, MS Dhoni's boys made a statement of intent with a romp over Pakistan.

"I think this is the best performance I expect from the team and is the benchmark for the tournament. If we can get close to this, we have a very good chance of defending the title," Dhoni said after the win on Wednesday.

If there's an Achilles heel, it has been fielding. But in the two matches so far, India have been one of the best fielding sides on show.

In a country where the cricketing summer goes beyond the WT20, the shadow of the Ashes has put a question mark over the English fans' participation. Australia and England claim to be focused on the job in hand, but its known where their hearts are.

Going by the mood in England, the WT20 couldn't have come at a better time. Battling corruption in politics, an economy that is struggling to revive and a time when football takes a break, England needs something to cheer about, and cricket will hopefully to lift the gloom.

As England and the Netherlands flag off the tournament on Friday, expect the hosts to set the tone for what could be sixteen days of exciting and often absorbing cricket.

England: Paul Collingwood (capt), Rob Key, Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Graham Napier, James Anderson, James Foster, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Eoin Morgan, Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann and Luke Wright.

The Netherlands: Jeroen Smits (capt), Peter Borren, Muddasar Bukhari, Tom de Grooth, Tim Gruijters, Maurits Jonkman, Alexei Kervezee, Dirk Nannes, Darron Reekers, Edgar Schiferli, Pieter Seelaar, Ryan ten Doeschate, Daan van Bunge, Eric Zwarczynski and Bas Zuiderent.