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Sunday, February 25, 2007

World Cup - who will shine?

Based on previous performances in the cricket World Cup, the bowlers with the best strike rate (current bowlers who have taken atleast 20 wickets) include Brett Lee, Shoaib Akhtar, Chaminda Vaas, Glenn McGrath, Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan. Of these, Lee has been ruled out of the tournament whereas Shoaib looks to be a 50-50 prospect as of now. It looks like the doping issue is a much bigger problem for him and Mohammed Asif - this might ensure that he doesn't play in the tournament. Sri Lanka, with Vaas and Murali both in their squad, have the potential proven players (nothing new in this statistic) to make them one of the favorites for the tournament. Kumble and McGrath make India and Australia the favorites as well. In terms of economy however, there is no one to beat Shaun Pollock. Murali makes a close second, based on the performances so far.

If one looks at the batting strike rate in World Cups (minimum of 250 runs from the current set of players), Scott Styris, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Verinder Sehwag, Sanath Jayasuriya, Herschelle Gibbs, Sourav Ganguly, Matthew Hayden average more than 80 runs per 100 balls. Again, this highlights the importance of Symonds as one of the key players in the Australian lineup, even though they have Gilchrist and Hayden. Surprisingly, players like Ricky Ponting and Shahid Afridi dont make this list.

Interestingly, the players who are in a World Cup for the first time, along with those who have not made an impact before, could be a key factor. In terms of scoring rate, one need not look beyond the likes of Afridi, Mahinder Singh Dhoni, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Hussey to make an impact. The last three named would be playing their first World Cup and it is quite likely that they will leave their mark on the tournament. In the bowling front, Shane Bond is the one to look out for, injuries permitting. Naved-ul-Hasan Rana, Nathan Bracken and Irfan Pathan have a strike rate of wicket per five overs or fewer. They are key players because they open the attack so they will be lookingfor the initial breakthrough.

But, on current form, only Bond, and to a lesser extent Bracken are looking likely to do well. And in terms of economy rate, only and McGrath have consistently hit four or less per over.

Despite thier recent slump in form, Australia, have more proven performers than the others but they have injury worries to Hayden and Symonds. India are also up there with star men to turn games. followed by Sri Lanka. The West Indies are the dark horses, even though none of the players arementioned above.
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