As the action goes on in Dubai, we bring you the best of glimpses from the field and off it
Former Australia pacer Brett Lee reckons that India are the favourites to win the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
India will open its T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai. Lee has also picked KL Rahul as the top run-scorer of the tournament, while he also picked Mohammed Shami as the leading wicket-taker. “But saying that, I think India are probably the favourites with their top four or five batters and their bowling attack. I have KL Rahul down as the top run-scorer in the tournament and Mohammed Shami to be the leading wicket-taker, purely going on the last few months. So, if they deliver and India have one of the leading run-scorers and wicket-takers, it’s a good start,” Lee wrote in his column for International Cricket Council (ICC).
“But I’m confident Australia can do it and it all starts against South Africa – a brilliant match to start what will hopefully be a brilliant tournament for the Baggy Greens,” he added.
The former Australia pacer also said that the Aaron Finch-led side has a strong chance of winning the tournament provided David Warner and Mitchell Starc have a good show with the bat and ball.
“For me, the expectation is that Australia will go and win the tournament. I know they might be high expectations but if you don’t go and set the bar very high, you are not going to succeed. We have not had a lot of success in this format – it is time we changed it and we do have a side that can take it all the way. It obviously won’t be easy, especially when you look at how strong teams like England, India and New Zealand are,” Lee said.
“But this Australian side is loaded with talent and for me, the key is David Warner. I would like to say he is saving the runs for the games that count after his IPL form! He was really harshly dealt with there and it may have knocked some confidence out of him but he thrives on the big stage. Everything should be rosy for him here, class is permanent. I will also put a lot of weight behind Mitchell Starc. There has been some debate in the last year about Starc being past his best but he would be in my team every single time, Josh Hazlewood has had a good IPL and Pat Cummins is a superstar. He is the David Beckham of the team, whatever he touches turns to gold,” he added.
Team India to use Varun in crunch games
It is no secret that two cricketers who have been the focus of the Indian medical staff are Varun Chakravarthy and Hardik Pandya. While Varun’s knees are a cause of concern, the medical team has also been looking to get Hardik bowling ready. And it looks like the team management is looking to use Varun judiciously.
The team management in consultation with the medical team has decided it is best to keep Varun as fresh as possible and use him in crunch games. “He is undoubtedly a match-winner in this format and the leadership group knows what four overs can mean in a big tournament like the T20 World Cup. The medical team has been working closely with him and Varun will be used judiciously. He is a trump card and Virat Kohli and the leadership group is looking to use him just like that,” the source said.
Asked if that means he could be kept away from a game if the stakes aren’t high, the source said: “Yes, that is exactly what the idea is. While the team is looking to have his services as much as possible, it is also clear that his knees aren’t a 100 per cent. So, he will be used as per the demands of the tournament. If it is a must-win or big game, you will see him out there weaving his magic with the ball. If the team is well placed and you can afford to give his knees a bit of a rest, the team might do that. But yes, MS Dhoni and Ravi Shastri will be right there to guide Kohli and Rohit Sharma in such a scenario.”
Miller banking on Hashim Amla’s advice
South Africa middle-order batter David Miller has said that he is banking on the advice given by Hashim Amla to achieve success in the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
South Africa will open their T20 World Cup campaign against Australia on October 23 at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. “The famous old saying is that you are only as good as your last game, but Hashim always said to me you’re only as good as your next game. It’s about resetting the clock and the mind, and trying to control and really be in the present,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Miller as saying.
“I had the privilege to play with him for many, many years and I suppose what I have learnt from him is to not let failure get you down. We are striving for consistency in performance and, off the field, trying to be a consistent person as well. That’s what I have really enjoyed about Hashim and his influence, being nice and calm, being a pillar of strength; the silent assassin,” he added.
Further talking about the impact of Amla, Miller said: “He was about getting the job done but more so, being nice and consistent as a person. It has been a good journey with him and I still keep in touch with him and will continue to do that during this World Cup for any advice.”
Miller was also a part of the 2013 Proteas ODI squad that played in the UAE, and he now hopes to pass on the knowledge he gained during the last two seasons of the IPL.
Hardik should be ready when tournament begins
India white-ball vice-captain Rohit Sharma on Wednesday said that all-rounder Hardik Pandya should be ready to bowl once the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup begins.
Rohit’s comments came ahead of the warm-up match against Australia where he is filling in as the stand-in skipper. “Hardik is coming along pretty well, but it’ll be a while before he will start to bowl. He hasn’t started bowling, but he should be ready by the start of the tournament. We have quality in the main bowlers, but you need an option for a 6th bowler,” said Rohit during the toss.
Hardik did not bowl a single over for the Mumbai Indians in the UAE leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and he also did not bowl in the warm-up fixture against England which was played on Monday.
India will next play Pakistan in their opening game of the T20 World Cup on October 24.
Grew up watching Tendulkar, Afridi, Kumble: Rashid Khan
Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan revealed that he grew up admiring the cricketing greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Shahid Afridi and Anil Kumble.
Since 2017, Rashid has been the leading T20 wicket-taker with 333 wickets, and second on the economy rate. He scalped 18 wickets in 14 innings in the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in UAE. “Batting-wise, I always loved watching Sachin Tendulkar. [Back then] I wasn’t the kind of player with a mindset of hitting sixes. I loved playing down the ground, singles, and boundaries. I don’t know how and why I changed my mind to now mainly focusing on hitting sixes,” said the Afghanistan spinner to ESPNcricinfo.
“Bowling-wise, definitely Shahid Afridi and Anil Kumble. Even at home, playing against my brothers, I was bowling quicker leg-spin [like Afridi and Kumble]. I loved watching them on TV. I still watch videos [of them] on YouTube – there are so many things I learned from them and still do,” he added.
Khan also said that earlier he had no hopes of being an international cricketer as there was no proper Afghanistan team back then.
“I used to dream about these three players and imagine being them. We didn’t have a proper Afghanistan team back then and there were no hopes for us to be international cricketers, so watching them was a great, great time. And now when I meet them, it is more than a dream,” he said.
Afghanistan will be playing their opening match of the ICC men’s T20 World Cup on October 25 and the team will face Pakistan in their second clash on October 29.