Ganeshbabu Venkat | 1:05am gmt 12 Sep 2012
With the T20 2012 World Cup days away, here is CW's list of eight players who we think will set the tournament alight.
It is hard to think of T20 cricket without mentioning this powerful left hander's name. He announced himself in West Indian colours after more than a year in exile with two powerful knocks in Florida against the Kiwis and followed that up with some consistent performance in the Tests and ODI's during the same series. If the past T20 World Cups are any indicator then he will certainly be treating bowlers with disdain and the spectators will surely get their money's worth.
In the 2009 edition he came to the party at The Oval against the Australians and the special treatment he meted out to Brett Lee when he took 27 off a single over still is fresh in our memories. In the inaugural edition during 2007 he carted the Proteas to all parts of the Wanderers to score a magnificent 100. Between 2010 and 2012 he has been a terror in all T20 tournaments he played be it the big bash or IPL or even the BPL. His presence at the top of the order always presents a difficult proposition for the bowlers and if he stays for seven to eight overs, he is certain to explode during the later part of the innings. He is certainly amongst the best and one of the top players to watch in this this edition of the tournament.
One of the fairytale stories in world cricket, Yuvraj battled germ cell cancer and is now back on track. If any he is the most inspiring cricketer today and will be keen to make a mark on this tournament after a long hiatus from competitive cricket. Yuvraj has always been the shining light for India in ICC tournaments. He won India the 2007 T20 World Cup with some crucial knocks in South Africa. No one can forget him hitting Stuart Broad for six sixes and scoring a valuable 70 in the crucial semis against the Aussies.
Even in the 2009 tournament, although India failed to win a game in the Super Eights his batting was of the highest quality and he bailed India out of trouble every time he went out to bat. In the 2011 ICC ODI World Cup he inspired them to some great wins both with the bat and the ball. With his ability to turn the match on its head coupled with his canny left arm tweakers and his insatiable urge to prove that he belongs in the big stage should be enough to make him one of the players to watch even if he does not replicate his previous performances.
Arguably the best spinner on the planet today, he would be keen to snub his detractors in the ICC selection panel who did not short list him for the ICC cricketer of the year award. He is no spring chicken but his variety, guile and the way he uses his doosras are superb.
In the last 12 months he has 46 ODI wickets at 19.26, in Tests he was even better claiming 66 wickets at 23.53 and in T20's he averaged 14.26. If the recent Australian series is any indicator he is going to be a potent force on the slow and low Sri Lankan wickets.
He would surely like to set the record straight after Mike Hussey single-handedly eliminated Pakistan from the last tournament by taking him apart in the last over during the semis. Who knows Ajmal might even give Pakistan a chance to regain the trophy they won in 2009.
Perplexed, bamboozled, confused, bemused. It's hard to find words to describe how batsmen fared against him ever since he came on to the international scene. He proved that T20 is just not a batsman's game. It was next to an impossible task to decode Narine and batsmen fell like nine pins to his bowling.
He first showed us his prowess in the Aussie home series and impressed one and all. He picked up the player of the series award in his inaugural IPL, followed that up with a scintillating series against New Zealand. In the past year he returned surreal economy rates in T20 cricket, whenever Kolkata and West Indies needed a break through he provided it. Unlike another mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis, Narine has more variety even with his straighter ones and his stock ball, the regular off spinner. He sure is one of the exciting players to watch this tournament.
If there is one person who can pose a threat to the opposition as good as Gayle to the bowlers it's "Til-D". Although his form has been in patchy off-late, he usually bats like a man possessed in T20's and he is always a potent force at home.
His immense talent combined with his ability to produce some audacious strokes makes him a treat to watch. Especially the outrageous "Dilscoop" that he has played so effectively throughout his career. Even during IPL 2012 he matched Gayle stroke for stroke on more than one occasion.
With the burden of the captaincy taken off his shoulders there is less pressure on him and he should be back to his usual self. In the 2009 world cup he was the man of the series and even in 2010 he helped Sri Lanka reach the semis. Past experience and his T20 skills makes him one of the obvious choices and Sri Lanka's chances largely depends on him.
Belongs to the gen Y of players, built like an OX, he represented South Africa in the Under 19 World Cup and developed in to a devastating striker of the cricket ball. He announced himself to international T20 by scoring a 100 off just 45 balls and obliterating Gayle's record for the fastest 100 in T20's. In that innings against the Kiwis he thumped a record 13 sixes and finished up with 117 off 51 balls.
Sri Lanka is a different cup of tea altogether with bigger stadia and slower wickets, however his phenomenal strike rate of 150 in T20 games coupled with his immense strength to clear the fence makes him one of the young and exciting players to watch this T20 world cup.
With Graeme Smith absent at the top of the order he will be required to provide the impetus South Africa needs at the top if they are to go far this time.
"Mr.Cricket" may be 37 years old but he is still one of the best finishers in the shortest form of the game. Of late he showed his value for both Australia and Chennai with some useful contributions. In fact CSK started winning more games after he joined their ranks from the West Indies tour.
No one can forget his valuable knock when he blasted Pakistan out of the tournament in 2010 taking Ajmal to the cleaners in the last over. He probably played the best innings of that tournament to score 60 of 24 balls when all seemed lost for Australia.
With the younger turks over taking this new look Aussie side, this will probably be Hussey's last chance to prove that he still got it in him to pull miracles out of the hat. His ability to play the spinners easily makes him even more valuable for the Aussies who are ranked below the Irish in the T20 rankings.
Arguably the best young cricketer in the world today, Kohli has developed a reputation as one of the finest stroke makers, His performances in recent chases for India in ODI's and his 13 ODI hundreds in just 83 games makes him a player to watch this tournament. Although his T20 record is not earth-shattering, he would be keen to transfer his ODI form and record to the shortest form of the game.
He has the reputation, skills and all he needs is a performance in the big stage like a T20 World Cup. No team has ever won the ODI World Cup and backed it up with a T20 win. If India wants to create a record of sorts they will be hugely dependent on Kohli to deliver the goods given the fact that India's waffer thin bowling does not inspire any confidence.