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Twenty20 World Championship, 2007-08
'West Indies and South Africa are the major sides most prone to an upset'
September 4, 2007
Ian Chappell looks at the three teams in group A - South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh
 
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In this, the first of a four-part series, Cricinfo's expert and former Australia captain Ian Chappell analyses the teams participating in the Twenty20 World Championship. Here is his take on South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh, the three teams in Group A.

South Africa



South Africa are too heavily reliant on pace © AFP
Despite their competitiveness and athleticism in the field, South Africa impress as a team more known for their words than their deeds. They also have a very one-dimensional attack and approach to the game. They rely too heavily on pace and containment as their main avenue for keeping their opponents in check. There's no doubt that they have some brilliant individual players, but they struggle to put it together as a team. The last time they played a major tournament in South Africa - the 2003 World Cup - they succumbed to the high expectations of hometown support.

Since they rely too much on pace, the South African attack is susceptible to an opening onslaught by good batsmen. They often find it hard to claw their way back into the game because of the lack of good spin options. Similarly, their batsmen can be reined in by good spinners, which means that they are fortunate that Australia and Sri Lanka are in the other group of four in the Super Eights section.

They will be reliant on good scores from Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs to put opponents under pressure. If the two fail, a lot will fall on the shoulders of Mark Boucher, now that Jacques Kallis is not there to provide a middle-order security blanket.

They badly need Makhaya Ntini to take early wickets while Shaun Pollock does his usual containing job, and while they'll miss Andre Nel's aggression, his replacement, Morne Morkel, has the makings of a very good cricketer. I'll be surprised if South Africa make the semi-finals. This goal will be well beyond them if they remain uptight in front of the hometown crowd.

Rating: 6/10

West Indies



"Chris Gayle needs to have a monster tournament for West Indies to do well" © AFP
West Indies didn't perform well in the World Cup [2007], playing at home and led by Brian Lara, and they're unlikely to do well in unfamiliar conditions without their star batsman as captain.

However the West Indies players have an advantage over all but their English counterparts in that they have performed under pressure on a regular basis in their domestic Twenty20 tournaments. The Stanford competition is a big-money affair, so West Indies are more used to serious Twenty20 cricket than most other countries where the game was treated more as entertainment until the announcement of this high-profile ICC tournament.

On paper West Indies have most of the ingredients for a strong Twenty20 side. They have a big-hitting opener [Chris Gayle] to take advantage of the fielding restrictions in the first six overs, they have a couple of very talented allrounders in Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels to add depth to the batting and bowling, a big hitter [Dwayne Smith] for the last few overs, and they have a pacy new-ball bowler [Fidel Edwards] who can strike early.

However, Gayle's poor footwork has made him highly inconsistent of late and Samuels has flattered to deceive for a long time. As for Smith, he no longer deceives - he always hits a six over midwicket and then promptly gets out. Edwards, on the other hand, seems to have come of age in England, where he bowled with pace and fire. If Daren Powell and Pedro Collins give him good support, West Indies might at last have something resembling a potent attack. However, unless Gayle has a monster tournament, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's golden string of scores continues, West Indies will be short of enough runs to trouble the top sides.

West Indies will need to be at their best to get past Bangladesh in the preliminary round, but even if they do get past that hurdle, I don't expect them to reach the semi-finals.

Rating: 6/10

Bangladesh



"Mohammad Ashraful has the skill to be one of the stars of the tournament" © AFP

The Bangladesh selectors have been wise in making their 15 choices. They seem to be saying, "If we can't win this tournament, at least let us gain something for the future." The inclusion of three teenagers in the squad and no player older than 25 is a brave move. These cricketers will be able to express themselves in a slightly relaxed international atmosphere. I hope the selectors are rewarded for their foresight.

The batting will be built around their young captain, Mohammad Ashraful, who has the skill to be one of the stars of the tournament, if the responsibility doesn't prove to be too much of a burden. Tamim Iqbal's audacious innings against India in the World Cup displayed talent and nerve, and he'll be hoping to build on that in a format that will suit his style.

The bowling will be anchored by their stalwart vice-captain, Mashrafe Mortaza, who is a lively wicket-taking fast bowler and a capable late-innings hitter. The selectors' desire to encourage youth may have robbed them of some experience in spin bowling, which would be a pity because that has been one of their great strengths in the past.

Bangladesh is far and away the best of the non-seeded sides and South Africa and West Indies both need to be on their mettle when they face Bangladesh as they are the major teams who are most likely to be unceremoniously dumped by a less-fancied side. It won't surprise me if Bangladesh do make the final eight.

Rating: 5/10

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist


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