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Twenty20 is here!

The wait is finally over for all cricket lovers.The Twenty20 world Cup – the fast and furious version of cricket is set to debut in Johannesburg today and a very tired team India arrives for the tournament.

A tired MS Dhoni got off the team bus at the Johannesburg airport, jet-setting straight from London. India’s Twenty20 captain didn’t even get time to change. His boys were the last to reach South Africa for the Twenty20 championships but Dhoni refused to admit to his team’s fatigue.

With a team packed with power hitters and young all-rounders, even Virender Sehwag – the most seasoned batsman in the side – admitted that the willow would rule the roost. Virender Sehwag, batsman, Indian Cricket Team averred that batsmen will dominate.But skipper Dhoni believes otherwise. MS Dhoni, Indian Twenty20 Cricket Team says, “I don’t think it’s a total batsman’s game – the new Kookaburra ball does a bit, the batsman doesn’t have time to settle and has to go for it right from the start, which gives the bowlers a chance to take wickets. The bowlers need to bowl in the right areas, and try and guess what the batsman is planning to do.”

With just four overs for every bowler, even Harbhajan Singh is clear that there cannot be a plan to stop the batsmen. Only the damage can be controlled.

Harbhajan Singh,bowler,Indian Cricket Team with Dhoni requested fans back home not to expect too much from the young bunch.This world cup surely isn’t kicking off with the same excitement as the one-day world cup five months ago.

Hosts South Africa are in Group A along with World Cup hosts West Indies.The Proteas will be hoping to finally break their world cup jinx.

“So Close yet so Far”

Mickey arthur exulted, “I certainly think this is a huge opportunity. As Graeme said, it’s a huge opportunity for the country to get behind us. It’s a huge opportunity for us to win a World Cup, to win a substantial event.

These words from Coach Mickey Arthur will constantly be ringing in the home team’s camp at the Twenty20 championships.South Africans have been the second best on the international stage for – far too long  – always living the tale of  “So Close yet so Far”.

The heart-breaking first round exit as hosts during the 2003 World Cup after the Duckworth-Lewis faux-pas is still fresh in the minds of South African supporters world over.Theres no doubt, skipper Graeme Smith and his men will be desperate to not pass up the opportunity  this month at the T20 championships and are working out their strategies.

Graeme Smith, South Africa captain says, “I do think strategy is going to play an important part. I do think the team that has the imagination or so to play the Twenty20 over game is going to be important. I think you’ve got to rely on your players, trust them, make sure that they’ve done the work and go and allow them to play. I think having players that are a little bit more unorthodox, have the ability to score in different areas, have the ability to think on their feet.I think that is going to play an important role in the tournament.”

Strategy, imagination and playing-at-home will be an advantage but the pressure will be immense on these cricketers.Will they still overcome their World Cup jinx?

Mickey Arthur, South Africa coach informs that at their Twenty20 squad they would be discussing strategies.The guys are working really hard and are determined to put up a really good show in South Africa.A look at South Africa’s record in Twenty20 internationals till date overwhelmingly shows that the team can only get better. They may have lost 3 of the 5 T20s they have played but a tight-triumph over a champion Aussie outfit and this year’s mauling of Pakistan highlights the team’s arsenal for the format.

South Africa at T20

SA beat Pakistan by 10 wickets at Johanneburg in Feb 2007.Their highest team total  was 201-4 in a game against Australia at Johannesburg in Feb 2006.Skipper Smith too has the led the team from the front, striking 3 magnificent 50s for a grand haul of 259 runs in the format, the most by any batsman in T20 cricket. Graeme Smith  was the top scorer with 259 runs in 5 matches.Graeme Smith’s 89 ‘not out’ vs Aus at Johannesburg in Feb 2006 was his highest individual score. The best Bowling Figures were 3-22 by A Hall while playing Australia at Johannesburg Feb 2006 but with versatile players like Jacques Kallis and Andrew Hall – South Africa’s most successful batsman and bowlers at the just concluded Caribbean World Cup – ignored by the selectors – the going could get tough for the hosts.

Ramnaresh Sarwan,Captain West Indies recounts that when Chris (Gayle) led the team and when they drew the series one-one with England ,he thought they played really well but that they really have not had too many games or an experience.He expressed hope over their capability of adjusting themselves to play very well in the Twenty20 tournament.

West Indies at the T20s

With a mix of youth and experience, West Indies surely have the muscle to challenge the very best at this format.With one loss, one win besides the only tied encounter in international T20 cricket,the caribbeans  will be looking for the experinced duo of skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shiv Chanderpaul to turn it on with the willow.

Last Match: Lost to England by 5 wickets at The Oval in June 2007
Highest Team Total – 208-8 vs England at The Oval in June 2007
Scores over 200 – Once

The all-round skills of the tearing tornado Chris Gayle, the spin and big hitting of Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith and a typical power-packed West Indian performance could send oppositions running for cover.

Ramnaresh Sarwan, Captain. West Indies thinks that they have a great opportunity to play well. He affirms that the importance of playing well as a team and putting up a spectacular performance.

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