Group B:

Teams: Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, England

We decided to preview this group first, because eh, well – just felt like it. Actually, the SA vs SL game starts in a bit, so it sorta made more sense.

Conventional wisdom might tell us that Group A is the tougher of the lot, but the foolish, low IQ folks that we at MTJAG are, it’s Group B which is more intriguingly balanced.  SL and NZ are on a cocaine-like high, South Africa have a lot to prove, and England  fantasized their Ashes performance so much, that they got their butts whipped in the ensuing one dayers.

Sri Lanka
Dilshan, Jayasuriya, Sangakkarra (C, W) Jayawardene, Sameerawara, Kadamby,  Mathews,Kulasekara, Malinga, , Mendis,Thushara,  Murali, Prasad, Tharanga, Thushara, Kapugedera

Batting: 7/10
Have a look at that squad. There’s none on that squad in this current day and age that would give the bowlers nightmares, but that’s exactly SL’s strength. There is no ONE specific batsmen that you plan around or for, with each one giving the opposition not a migraine, but a unique assortment of mild headaches, able to cause more pain collectively.
Jayasuriya might be old enough to subscribe for viagra, but his lust for runs is still quite astounding. Touching 40 now , the man still finds a way to “score” (no pun intended). Dilshan , thanks to the IPL, has moulded himself into quite  a dangerous species.  Sangakkarra , the cool southpaw captain comes in 1-down to provide the stability or the push, as per the situation. In Jayawardene , Sammerawara, Kadamby , Mathews, they have the right mix of flair and experience , and skill. There is still talent that is completely unproven against the top level, but the mix is right.

Bowling: 8/10
With the absence of Vaas, there might have been a worry for the islanders that a good frontline bowler might be missing. Well worry no more. The Answer is spelt M-A-L-I-N-G-A.  Comfortable with the new ball as well as the relatively old, Malinga has settled in quite comfortably at 1st change, and also at the death. With Thushara capable of holding a good line with the new ball, and the ever dangerous Murali coming in later for his quota of 10, there is some balance. Dilshan and Jayasuriya can also turn their arms over effectively for a few, being reasonably effective .  The key here would be Ajantha “Peter Andre” Mendis. Will SL play him in the XI , and secondly, will he be as effective, or have teams figured him out.

Keep an Eye on:Angelo Mathews.

With just 13 ODIS and an average of 23 under his belt, Mathews might seem a strange pick. But the man has potential with the bat and can be a bit of a surprise with the ball. This could be a ripe opportunity for him announce that he belongs in the big stage.

South Africa

GC Smith(C), J Botha, HM Amla, MV Boucher(W), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, HH Gibbs, JH Kallis, JA Morkel, M Ntini, WD Parnell, RJ Peterson, DW Steyn, LL Tsotsobe, RE van der Merwe

Batting: 8/10
Home conditions and pitches will work really well for the talented batsmen that the Proteas have to offer.  Smith and Gibbs typically start things off with some brisk momentum (Kallis can be an option too with Gibbs coming in later), with the taltend Duminy coming in later to consolidate the position. However, there’s little argument that the star in that line up is AB. With an Average of close to 39, AB is Da Shit for SA.  A complete repetoire of shots, deadly agaisnt pace and spin, and the hungry warewolf that he is, AB will be who SA will play around. It does help their cause that SA also have some very capable all-rounders in Morkel and Van Der Merwe.

Bowling: 7/10
The Absence of a world class spinner in the squad is camoflaged well with the likes of Merwe and an underrated Duminy (his bowling action is pretty classical, helps him float the ball well). With  options such as Morkel, Parnell, Steyn Ntini, Kallis  in the speed department, that part is well cover. However, the glaring weakness will still be variety. Only time will tell if the opposition teams strategize smartly enough to sort the bowlers out.

Keep and Eye on:  Kallis
AB and Morkel would be the obvious choices, and thus not MTJAG’s style. We go with the “surely-you-must-retire-by-now” Mr. Kallis to chip in with usual performances with the bat and bowl throughout the tournament.

New Zealand:

McCullum (W), Ryder, Guptill, Taylor, Elliott, Oram, Broom, vettori (C), Butler, Patel, Bond, Tuffey, Hopkins, Diamanti

Batting: 6/10
When on form – NZ can take on the best in the world.  But that crappy old saying can even be applied to Bangladesh.

Here’s the deal: NZ in my opinion has a batting line up very similar to SL – with a little more ODI type explosion , but with a less experience and stability.   I see 3-4 animals in McCullum, Ryder, Taylor, Oram, but very less stability (a la Sanga or a Jayawardene). Thus, when on song, the whole team gets a bunch of 50s (see the india warm up game), but the question is if even 1-2 can rise to the occasion when the wickets fall over  faster than Pam Anderson’s panties.

What makes them so successful in the ODIs is the very nature of the format.  They need to have 2 good games, perhaps a bit of luck, and then it’s on from there.

Bowling: 6/10
I like the firepower and the mix, but I am not convinced if they have what it takes to bowl a good 40 odd overs convincingly.  Bond and Vettori are amongst the best in business without an iota of doubt. But what after that? Tuffs is steady on his day. But I am not convinced of Patel and the rest of the gang.

Keep an Eye on: Broom.
In Neil Broom , NZ has someone with the potential to be the next Taylor for them. He has the necessary shots and skill to provide good cameos when he comes on. If Ryder , Taylor etc do their job well, expect Broom to “sweep” you off the floor with  a neat little impetus at the end (eh eh – attempt at humor).


Strauss (C),Bopara, Broad, Flintoff, Collingwood,Onions, Sidebottom,Prior,Morgan, Owais Shah, Swann,Luke Wright,Adil Rashid,Bresnan, Anderson

Batting: 6/10
All said and done, porn star Peterson’s explosion puts a shitload of pressure on the rest of the 5 to perform. While Collingwood and Flintoff are proven commodities, Strauss is to testi for my liking, and Bopara , Shah and the rest are yet to put a string of good performannces together to scare anyone too much.  However, England’s biggest strength is the ability to get a 20-30 out of folks such as Broad and even Anderson, which gently nudges the score up.

Bowling: 5/10
Again, the bowling looks steady without being giving anyone sleepless nights.  Broad can be effective, but expensive on his day. Anderson and Sidebottom are steady. But what about the spinners? Rashid, if he gets a game,  will be under quite some duress  against the batsmen of other teams. Again, England will need contributions from their bits and pieces players to finish up their quota of overs .

Keep an Eye on : L. Wright
In the absence of Pieterson, England might look for another middle order bat to plan around. One of the contenders could be Luke Wright.   He has the ability both with the bat and bowl to mold himself into a poor man’s Flintoff, and that could be a little dangerous. I expect a quickfire 50, a good cameo of 30, and 3-4 wickets from him this time around. While he might not be the sole reason for any English victory, I think he’ll do just enough to garner a lot of English hope in future.

Next up, we’ll look at the teams from Group A.