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World Cup Twenty20 players to watch; action starts June 5
London, Jun 1 (Agencies):
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Published on 2 Jun. 2009 12:11 AM IST
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Following the success of the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, the world’s best are in England for the second edition of the six-hitting, stump-shattering extravaganza. We run the rule over 10 players, young and old, with the potential to make a name for themselves in the 12-team tournament, starting on Friday. India: Suresh Raina The stylish left-handed batsman embodies the hard-nosed ethos of Mahendra Dhoni’s India team. The 22-year-old possesses exceptional six-hitting qualities - he smashed 21 in the Indian Premier League - as well as the ability to manipulate singles and rotate strike. Raina was the highest domestic run scorer in the IPL with 434, notching a highest score of 98 for the Chennai Super Kings. His electric fielding also gives India an extra dimension in the field. Australia : Warner Warner bludgeoned his way into the headlines when he scored the second-fastest fifty in Twenty20’s short international history. At 21, the Sydney-born left-hander smashed 89 off 43 balls against South Africa in January - all this before he had made his first-class debut for New South Wales. His six-hitting antics - he cleared the ropes six times at the MCG - earned him a lucrative contract with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League. Bangladesh: Shakib Meet the world’s best all-rounder. No, really. Shakib is, according to the International Cricket Council’s one-day ratings, better than Andrew Flintoff, Yuvraj Singh, Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi. The left-arm spinner has two one-day hundreds to his name, not to mention an impressive Test bowling best of 7-36 against New Zealand. Shakib was instrumental in Bangladesh’s only win in the 2007 tournament, collecting 4-34 against West Indies. The 22-year-old will need to be at the top of his game if Bangladesh are to have any hopes of advancing beyond the group stages. England: Eoin Morgan In an era of slog-sweeps, switch-hits and shovel shots, Eoin Morgan could possibly trump them all. Named in England’s squad following a string of impressive performances for Middlesex, the Dublin-born left-hander is the inventor of the “change up sweep”, a stroke that defies description, not to mention belief. Morgan has international experience having played for Ireland in the 2007 World Cup, but just like compatriot Ed Joyce before him, he harbours Test-playing ambitions with England. Should he replicate his county form for England, expect plenty of open-jawed bowlers as well as spectators. Netherlands: Nannes Described by Delhi Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag as the fastest bowler he has ever faced, Dirk Nannes is not your typical cricketer. Japanese speaker, international skiier, classically trained saxophonist, travel agent and left-arm opening bowler, Nannes took 15 wickets in IPL II. But despite strong domestic performances for Victoria, the 33-year-old was spurned by Australia for the World Twenty20, opting intead to represent the Netherlands, the birthplace of his parents. New Zealand: Guptill A second-ball duck against Australia in February was not the ideal start to Martin Guptill’s international Twenty20 career. But just a month before, the 22-year-old created history when he became the first Kiwi to score a one-day century on his debut against the West Indies. His 122 not out remains the second highest score by a one-day debutant. A powerfully built batsman, Guptill can clear the ropes with consummate ease and is equally adept opening the batting or at three. Pakistan: Shehzad At 17, Ahmed Shehzad will be the youngest player competing in the World Twenty20. Having made his first-class debut at 15, Shahzad has benefited from Pakistan’s faith in fast-tracking raw talent and already has four one-day internationals under his belt. An aggressive right-hand opening batsman, the teenager has flourished in Pakistan’s youth teams. And although his country’s prospects of international cricket have suffered, Pakistanis have high hopes for Shehzad. South Africa: Abdulla Yusuf who? That would have been most people’s response when asked about the 26-year-old from KwaZulu-Natal. But in the space of three months, the left-arm seamer with the slingy action has become one of Twenty20’s most consistent bowlers. Ten wickets at an average of 17.10 in South Africa’s Pro20 tournament brought Abdulla to the attentions of the King’s XI Punjab, for whom he took 14 wickets, with a best of 4-31. A well-disguised slower ball and the speared yorker are particularly effective at the death. Team: West Indies While few have sympathy for disgraced banker Sir Allen Stanford, Andre Fletcher is one to wish him well, whatever his fate. The batsman/wicketkeeper from Grenada became a dollar millionaire following an unbeaten 101-run opening-wicket stand with Chris Gayle against England in Antigua in November 2008. He had earlier smashed 90 against Middlesex, hammering seven sixes during his explosive 60-ball innings. Although his two previous international Twenty20 experiences ended in single-figure dismissals, expect flashing blades and pyrotechnics. Ireland: O’Brien From the old school of cricket, Kevin O’Brien is a no-nonsense, old-fashioned hitter. The younger brother of wicketkeeper Niall, the 25-year-old blasted a series of impressive lusty blows during Ireland’s run at the 2007 World Cup. O’Brien has had more success with his medium pacers than his batting in four Twenty20 innings. But given his chance, expect great things from the big-hitter from Dublin.

 
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