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Three quick men and the quest for semis spot

If the Lankans have the best bowling side, then the Kiwis should surely be counted as the second best, writes Javagal Srinath.

cricket Updated: Apr 05, 2007 01:13 IST

Now that the Super Eight has almost reached the halfway stage, only two teams Australia and New Zealand seems to be sailing smoothly. As far as others are concerned, it could be anybody’s guess.

The minnows of the first round Ireland and Bangladesh progressed to the Super Eight rather surprisingly but have been involved only in one-sided games in the second stage.

Nevertheless, we got to see some great cricket. Let us look into the three main frontline bowlers who can make a difference to their teams in reaching the semis and the finals.

The breathtaking spell by the Lasith Malinga did send shivers down the spine of every other team present in the Super Eight. South Africans had their hearts in their mouth and only a lucky edge from Robin Peterson in the end helped them cross the finish line.

The consistency with which Malinga bowls those deadly yorkers was once again witnessed against the West Indies. Malinga would certainly play a big role in Sri Lanka's quest for a berth in the semifinals.

While officiating as a match referee in a Test series in Lanka last summer, I came across Champaka Ramanayake, the chief of the island's talent hunt programme for fast bowlers.

It was Champaka’s eye for talent that enabled Malinga, a rural lad, to get a berth in Lanka's high performance centre in Colombo. Malinga didn’t have to change his actions to meet the standards of coaching manuals. Champaka said they wanted to retain his originality.

Sri Lankan think-tank has used Malinga brilliantly in all these games. They brought him during the death overs and also when new batsmen took guard. With Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas also bowling in tandem, Sri Lankan bowling attack is by far the best in the tournament.

The other fast bowler who is once again having a mesmerising effect on the whole tournament with his line and length and mechanical precision is Glenn McGrath. He has defied age and managed to overcome his personal trauma to retain the number one slot in the world.

Seemingly, a sulking walk back to the bowling mark is nothing but a healthy degree of focus for the Aussie great. None can remember ever a ball drifting down to the leg-side after it was delivered from those well-positioned wrists and fingers of McGrath.

Then there is Shane Bond of New Zealand, who after quite a few breakdowns has realised how to resurrect himself into international cricket in quick time.

If Sri Lankans have the best bowling side in this World Cup, then Kiwis, who have Bond, Oram and Vettori, should surely be counted as the second best. That leaves Australian batsmen to do that extra bit to make up for their shortcomings in the bowling.

First Published: Apr 05, 2007 00:39 IST