The Big Picture
The ICL World Series is a battle between teams led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, Chris Harris, Habibul Bashar and R Sathish. Inzamam and Bashar have the advantage of playing with the same team that featured in the ICL 20s Indian Championship whereas Harris will lead the best of the world and Sathish will take charge of the best of the Indian players.
India are the defending champions but Pakistan look the best team. They have the power players, the spinners and the momentum of a winning team. Imran Nazir and Imran Farhat have sizzled at the top, Inzamam and Mohammad Yousuf provide stability in the middle, Naved-ul-Hasan has been very effective with the new and old ball and Saqlain Mushtaq has strangled batsmen with his variety. Pakistan are bolstered further by the inclusion of Abdul Razzaq, who turned out for Hyderabad Heroes in the Indian Championship.
This premium ICL tournament features the top players from a talent pool of over 150 Indian and international players in the recently concluded ICL 20s Indian Championship. The four teams will now take each other on, once in a round-robin format, and then a final between the two top teams. Interestingly, the white ball can be changed after the 15th over if it loses colour.
There is Rs 2.74 crore (US$552,931) up for grabs. Winners of this tournament stand to gain Rs 1.25 crore (US$252,250) and the runner-up will cash in Rs 75 lakh (US$151,350). The financial incentive for every win at the league stage will be Rs 10 lakh while the Man of the Match will collect Rs 2 lakh.
Players to watch
Pakistan: Imran Nazir and Saqlain. Nazir has hit two violent hundreds in the Indian Championship, including a whirlwind ton in the final, and is in great form. Saqlain has continued to tease and taunt the batsmen with his doosras, teesras and a whole bag of tricks.
India: G Vignesh and Stuart Binny. Vignesh - the bowler who has found his calling as a dashing opener in the ICL - is no Nazir but is rapidly earning a reputation for launching furious starts. Binny won the award for the most improved player in the Indian Championship and fills up the vital allrounder role.
World: Ian Harvey and Nicky Boje. Harvey has given explosive starts but has to work on his consistency. Boje really sparkled with bat and ball for Hyderabad and can be expected to continue with his good form.
Bangladesh Alok Kapali and Nazimuddin. Kapali hit the first ICL ton and has been very consistent. Nazimuddin has the talent to be a real powerhouse with the bat.
Pakistan: Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Imran Nazir, Abdul Razzaq, Arshad Khan, Haafiz Shahid, Humayun Farhat (wk), Imran Farhat, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Yousuf, Naved-ul-Hasan, Riaz Afridi, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shahid Nazir, Shahid Yousuf, Tahir Mughal, Taufeeq Umar.
India: R Sathish (capt), Abbas Ali, Hemang Badani, Stuart Binny, Deep Dasgupta (wk), Eklak Ahmid, Rohan Gavaskar, R Jesuraj, Ibrahim Khaleel (wk), Ali Murtaza, Rakesh Patel, Ambati Rayudu, Inder Shekar Reddy, Reetinder Sodhi, G Vignesh
Bangladesh: Habibul Bashar (capt), Aftab Ahmed, Alok Kapali, Dhiman Ghosh (wk), Farhad Reza, Golam Mabud, Mahbubul Karim, Manjural Islam, Mohammad Rafique, Mohammad Sharif, Mosharraf Hossain, Nazimuddin, Shahriar Nafees, Tapash Baisya
World: Chris Harris (capt), Andre Adams, Marvan Atapattu, Nicky Boje, Jason Gillespie, Murray Goodwin, Avishka Gunawardene, Andrew Hall, Ian Harvey, Nantie Hayward, Justin Kemp, Lance Klusener, Damien Martyn, Paul Nixon (wk).
Quotes: Inzamam: "We have a good team and all are in perfect health. We will be carrying forward the momentum and aim for the title. Our players are in good form and now with the inclusion of allrounder Abdul Razzak, we will have some advantage."
Sathish: "This game is all about how you handle the pressure. The one who can withstand it is likely to become the champion."
Harris: "We have good players to choose from, but picking up final XI will be a little tough for me as all of them are in good form. We will try to build a good standard for this 20-20 World Series."
Bashar: "Since it is our first year, it will be tough for us to compete against the more experienced sides. But after the 20-20 championship we are more confident and will try to reach the finals."