India’s opening defence of their Twenty20 world title was a satisfactory one though they will admit that there are areas they need to tighten up on. The wides down the leg-side are a luxury that no team can afford, especially in a low-scoring match.
After the relative low average scores of around 140 in the IPL, the totals are getting a bit bigger with 170 being the score that teams chasing will feel is gettable. The manner in which the West Indies, led by skipper Chris Gayle, romped to a win over Australia’s 169 is an indication that teams will feel a sense of comfort only if they have about 180 on the board and have an asking rate of nine an over.
This is not easy to maintain as was seen in the India-Bangladesh game, where the latter started spiritedly but were unable to maintain the tempo.
Bangladesh have been dangerous opponents for India and M.S. Dhoni would be relieved that they won with some gas to spare. That will leave them with a few days in which to look at the combination for the next stage.
The weather can be a huge factor in England and it has been biting cold over the last few days. The D/L method is a distinct possibility and teams simply cannot afford to take even one over lightly in case it boomerangs on them if rain pours later.
Despite the cold, teams like India and the West Indies, who do not have a major winter, have flourished. While the Windies’ batting demolished Australia quite easily, it’s the Indian fielding that has been a revelation. Yuvraj Singh’s two diving catches were outstanding to say the least.
What those catches showed was that the team was not going to spare any extra effort to win. India were cruising to a win at that stage so an attempt like that was not necessary, but it just showed the commitment of one of India’s finest players.
Australia are in a tough group. They play Sri Lanka to stay in the tournament and we know how destructive the Lankans can be. They are under a new skipper Kumar Sangakkara and may take some time to gel.
Also, this is their first big event after the tragic events in March in Lahore. Unfortunately, this format is cruel as it does not allow for any sentiment and the Lankans will have to take the initiative or else the wounded Aussies will walk over them.
Bangladesh are also in a similar situation as they have to beat Ireland to get to the next stage.
They have an aggressive pair of openers and if they click, it will be a joy to watch. It’s a must-win day for Australia and Bangladesh, so we may well get to see some of their finest cricket.