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Sunday, September 30, 2007

India back home post T20 World Cup

After a well-contested final, the Indians came up on top of the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. As has been mentioned by Dhoni, no expectations from the team lead to a great performance by the youngsters. They had their fair share of luck but that was only expected after the hard work they had put in the field.

The current situation is a pleasant one for the Indian Management to be in - especially when Dilip Vengsarkar had stated that he did not find any quality bench strength in India. The likes of Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary do have a chance in the other forms of cricket as well. The recent India A matches have shown glimpses of talent that the Management will do well to recognize - YoMahesh, Badrinath, Mohd. Kaif, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel. Some of them have been given a 'D' contract - a good start that was absent for all these years. 33 players have been given contracts - is it because of the ICL threat? MAYBE.

Will there be specialist players in the Twenty20 version? Probably. India, themselves, have Joginder Sharma and Yusuf Pathan, who can be a handful in the shortest version of the game, but would struggle in the 50-over version. There are other examples in other teams who would be really useful in the 20 over game - probably making a name in the 20's version before innovating themselves to earn a place in the 50's version. This is just like the VVS Laxman's and Anil Kumble's of the world, who would play only in the test level. The Indian trio (Sachin, Sourav and Rahul) would definitely not play in the shortest format, thereby leaving slots to be occupied by other players from the bench.

So, where does Twenty20 stand alongside ODI and Test cricket? Obviously, the ICC has mandated that each team should not play more than 7 matches in this format in a year - this means that only the ICC can make a financial killing of this type of cricket. One can see a 'Champions' version of Twenty20 coming out - on the lines of the Champions Trophy in ODI's. Some of the features of Twenty20 are being phased into the ODI format - like the free-hit rule, for example. The Twenty20 can act as an experimental zone where the ICC can try out new rules, before introducing them into the longer version of the game. The teams did not have any problems bowling 20 overs in 75 minutes - which means that 3.5 hours in ODI for one side is probably on the longer side.

One can see that the common viewers already feeling bored, watching a full ODI match - such was the impact of the Twenty20 cricket. The marketing brain behind this concept must have really spent enough time analyzing the behavior pattern of the viewers across ages - to have hit upon the right idea. The Asian Games Committee have already included cricket in its schedule (Twenty20 version) - which is only good for the globalization of the game.

The Indians were back to a rousing reception back home, which prompted some of the Aussies to say that the scenes were probably over-the-top, compared to their own. They are entitled to their opinions, but it was clearly a continuation of the Aussie mind-games, before the beginning of a new series. This also underlined the fact that the Aussies now felt hurt after their loss to the Indians in the Twenty20 World Cup. How will they strike back will be interesting to watch. But one thing is sure - the Indians will not let the Aussies dominate them on the field with their soundbites - the Aussies will get back whatever they have to offer (courtesy Sreesanth and Yuvraj, mainly). The Aussies are missing few of their top players and this might see the playing field getting a bit more even. So, who will win the series between the current ODI and T20 World Champions? It has to be the Aussies, unless Dhoni and team can go on to make an even bigger upset.
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