I was very skeptical about this tournament when it began earlier this month, curiosly prickled upon watching the innaugural match of the home side against West Indies and glued to it after watching only a few matches.
The T-20 has been called a lottery by Kevin Peitersen and although it may be called that at times, it is also a test of talent and grit. You can win/lose a T-20 match in just one over, a stark contrast to its 50 over sibling which allows the teams to consolidate, change gears, re-think strategy, etc. I think the best thing that came out of this for the cricketing world in general is that it proved that the game can win in this format and true talent could outshine the bigger names. Good old fashioned cricketing skills: good batting, fielding, bowling, and standard strategy is all you need to succeed in this version. What seemed to be a batsman’s game turned out as much a bowler’s game. It’s not like you cannot pace the innings in a T-20 game; a classic example of this is how India batted their way to victory in almost every game. Slogging alone cannot take you through: Bangladesh and Sri Lanka might have learnt this the hard way.
Enough about the format, here are some quickies on the some aspects of this tournament:
1. Fearless cricket: Young and fearless goes the adage; India and Bangladesh stand out for just that. Many Indian fans watched gaping as the Bangladeshi top order fearlessly (though recklessly) ripped the South African bowling the dead-rubber game. Although they lost wickets quickly, their positive spirit was apparent; they only needed to perfect some of the basics to build a successful team. If Indian fans who watched the Bangladesh-South Africa match were wondering “Why are’nt our batsmen so fearless or attacking”, they were answered very shortly. In this tournament, India, I think are the perfect examples of fearless cricket with the right proportions of caution, recklessness, agility and last not definitely not least, “never-say-die” atttitude.
2. Batting: There’s no dispute that this was a batsman’s game. Strokeplay will reward, calculated risks pay dividends, and old-fashioned running between wickets can win matches. Some of the impressive batsmen from this tourament: Mathew Hayden, Mohammed Ashraful, Kumar Sangakkara, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle, Brenden McCullum.
3. Bowling: Wicket taking can win matches here, and this semblance to Test cricket made the watching the T-20 matches very thrilling. Good old fashioned line and length, swing and change of pace makes a huge difference. Best bolwing from this tournament: RP Singh, Mohammed Asif, Umar Gul, Daniel Vettori, Stuart Clark, Irfan Patan, Sreeshant.
4. Fielding: India, South Africa, and Sri Lanka did well in this department. Best fielding display: Karthik’s blinder of a catch at slip in the match against South Africa, Uthappa’s direct hit to cause the run-out of Imran Nazir in the T-20 Final.
5. Umpiring: was top notch for this tournament. I don’t remember seeing any controversial lbws, or any rightful appeal turned down. Best Umpire for this tournament: Simon Taufel.
6. Commentary: almost as entertaining as the games themselves. Best commentary range: Ravi Shastri, David “Bumble” Lloyd and Harsh Bhogle for excitement, Nasser Hussain for honest and fair commentary. Other noteworthy mention: Ian Chappel for his snideness.
7. Teams to watch out for: Bangladesh, definitely. This group of youngsters have talent; they only need more practice. India on the other hand seem to a new, positive face now; although this tournament may not be the best yardstick to judge a cricket team, success in this format surely must count for something. The new Indian team has given a nation faith that their favorite game will be in good hands after the Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid trio bow out of the cricketing arena.