Proteas have lot to prove in Sri Lanka

2012-09-15 19:50

The International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments have always equated to heartbreak for South African teams. Even the shortest format has provided no respite.

It was Durban (South Africa), Nottingham (England) and Bridgetown (West Indies) that have provided the scenes for spectacular and heartwrenching defeats.

Pallekele, Hambantota and Colombo – Sri Lankan cities – will play host to the nine Test-playing nations plus the three associates who had to do the whole nine yards.

Unlike the 50-over format, where the outcome is often decided before the change of innings, the Twenty20 (T20) version is booby trapped.

Just ask captain Ricky Ponting and his Australians, as on a cold autumn day, Zimbabwe top-order batsmen Brendan Taylor and Elton Chigumbura mugged them in a dark alley.

It was the same with 2009 hosts England, as wicketkeeper Jeroen Smits’ band of orange-clad Dutchmen put the guns to captain Paul Collingwood’s head in a shock result.

One leveller will be the northern Indian Ocean island’s differing pitches.

Mostly known as a spinner’s paradise, Sri Lanka’s new grounds have tended to aid the seam bowlers, as was witnessed in the Sri Lankan Premier League T20 tournament.

How the subcontinental teams deal with markedly different pitches will determine their path.

The hosts, however, will be at an advantage because of the tournament plus the need to annex the only ICC title to add to their 1996 World Cup triumph and the shared ICC trophy six years later.

Defending champions England, without one Kevin Pietersen, come into the tournament on the back of a chastening home season against the Proteas of South Africa, where skipper Graeme Smith presided over the resignation of another English Test captain - Andrew Strauss.

Surprisingly, Australia finds itself at the bottom of the T20 heap in terms of the Test nations, but a wounded Australian side is a dangerous one.

Their recent 94-run obliteration of Pakistan was an iota of their pace battery’s capability of detonating stray top orders.

One issue they will need to sort out, though, is how to prevent spinners from tying them up at crucial stages.

And with New Zealand, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the West Indies added to the stew, a mix of big hitting, spicy running between the wickets and top notch fielding is expected.

After all, Asian outfields are as green as English pitches in April.

For a change, there are no outright favourites and that will make for a no holds barred T20 tournament.

ICC T20 World Cup week one fixtures
Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe
Hambantota, 4pm (September 18)
Australia vs Ireland
Colombo, 12pm
Afghanistan vs India
Colombo, 4pm (September 19)
South Africa vs Zimbabwe
Pallekelle, 4pm (September 20)
Bangladesh vs New Zealand
Pallekelle, 12pm
Afghanistan vs England
Colombo, 4pm (September 21)


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