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Rivals promise blockbuster action as Proteas aim to impress in T20 WC Group D

Rivals promise blockbuster action as Proteas aim to impress in T20 WC Group D

UNI

, Thursday, 30 May 2024 (15:08 IST)
Dubai: Former ICC Men’s T20 World Cup champions Sri Lanka find themselves in Group D alongside South Africa, Bangladesh, Netherlands and Nepal for the upcoming tournament.
 
South Africa and Sri Lanka are the two highest ranked teams in the group, but there is not much between all five sides.
 
This group promises thrilling matches with rivals Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, South Africa and Netherlands pitted against one another.
 
While Nepal gears up for their second appearance in the marquee event, the group boasts no clear cut favourite with history bearing witness that each team carries potential to beat the other.
 
Bangladesh enter the T20 World Cup with a bit of uncertainty as they continue to look for their strongest XI. Experienced opener Litton Das has been out of form of late with an average of 13.16 this year in six matches. Although teammate Tawhid Hridoy is confident that Das will make a strong comeback in the tournament.
 
Another concern is the injury to vice captain Taskin Ahmed and his fitness will be monitored prior to Bangladesh's first contest against Sri Lanka on 7 June after he suffered a side strain before the final match of the recent series against Zimbabwe, an ICC report said.
 
The Tigers have backed experience. Other than Das, they have former Bangladesh skippers Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan who can provide Najmul Hossain Shanto much-needed support as he undertakes his first ICC tournament as the new captain.
 
Bangladesh Squad:
 
Najmul Hossain Shanto (c), Taskin Ahmed (Vice Captain), Litton Kumer Das, Soumya Sarkar, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Shakib Al Hasan, Tawhid Hridoy, Mahmud Ullah Riyad, Jaker Ali Anik, Tanvir Islam, Shak Mahedi Hasan, Rishad Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib. Travelling reserves: Afif Hossain, Hasan Mahmud
 
In conditions that are expected to be slow with some assistance to spinners, Mustafizur Rahman’s skill set that includes deceptive off-cutters can turn out to be useful.
 
Mustafizur has time and again proven to be a match-winner for Bangladesh. His control in the middle-overs and effectiveness in the final overs with a recovering Taskin Ahmed makes him a priceless inclusion.
 
Nepal will feature a young side at the T20 World Cup, with 21-year-old Rohit Paudel leading the team as captain. Paudel’s recent form against West Indies A in the lead up to the tournament is a big positive with scores of 112, 71 not out and 82 in the series.
 
Gulshan Jha, who appeared at the U19 World Cup earlier in the year, along with 19-year-old Pratis GC are the other young stars expected to bring fireworks.
 
Sompal Kami, the fast bowling all-rounder, is the sole player from Nepal's inaugural 2014 squad to feature in the 2024 edition, with veteran Karan KC joining him as the team's senior member.
 
This will mark Nepal’s second appearance in the tournament making them the least experienced side in the group.
 
Nepal Squad:
 
Rohit Paudel (c), Aasif Sheikh, Anil Kumar Sah, Kushal Bhurtel, Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Lalit Rajbanshi, Karan KC, Gulshan Jha, Sompal Kami, Pratis GC, Sundeep Jora, Abinash Bohara, Sagar Dhakal, Kamal Singh Airee
 
The latest entrant in the six sixes club, Dipendra Singh Airee, comes in with a hard-hitting reputation. Dipendra bludgeoned six sixes in the ACC Men's T20I Premier Cup clash against Qatar becoming only the third men’s player to do so in T20Is after Yuvraj Singh (2007) and Keiron Pollard (2021).
 
He also is the current record holder of the fastest T20I fifty. The right-handed batter achieved this feat in nine balls, breaking Yuvraj’s record of 12 deliveries.
 
The 24-year-old’s contribution in the middle overs can help Nepal put up a strong challenge in the group.
 
The Netherlands have often brought the element of surprise in an ICC tournament. They have the edge over Proteas, beating them in the last two ICC Men’s tournaments – in the 2022 T20 World Cup and the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
 
They will face South Africa again on June 8 in New York with the aim to complete a hat-trick of wins. 20-year-old Michael Levitt has found a place in the absence of Colin Ackermann after an impressive hundred against Namibia earlier this year.
 
The Dutch have restored their core players for this edition with captain Scott Edwards, Bas de Leede, Logan van Beek, Max O'Dowd, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Vikram Singh and Wesley Barresi bringing the experience.
 
Netherlands Squad:
 
Scott Edwards (c), Aryan Dutt, Bas de Leede, Daniel Doram, Fred Klaassen, Logan van Beek, Max O'Dowd, Michael Levitt, Paul van Meekeren, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Teja Nidamanuru, ??Tim Pringle, Vikram Singh, Viv Kingma, Wesley Barresi. Reserve: Kyle Klein
 
Bas de Leede has been instrumental for the Netherlands with both bat and ball. For his impressive performance last year, de Leede was awarded with the ICC Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year.
 
However, the 24-year-old all-rounder has played little T20I cricket of late, with his recent appearances in the tri-series with Scotland and Ireland his first matches in the shortest format since 2022 at the most recent edition of the T20 World Cup. De Leede was one of the Netherlands best at the event where he finished as their leading wicket-taker with 13 scalps.
 
Perhaps the strongest side in this group and the tournament, South Africa have put together a strong squad.
 
The batting line-up consists of experienced Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller and Reeza Hendricks who can bludgeon bowling attacks with Ryan Rickelton and
 
Tristan Stubbs promising to bring the spark of youth.
 
The fast-bowling department displays assurance with Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Gerald Coetzee, Marco Jansen and Ottniel Baartman. Meanwhile, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin complete the spin department.
 
However, the Proteas side miss a genuine all-rounder in their line-up. Jansen has proven to be handy with the bat but primarily serves as their opening bowler.
 
The pressure will be on as Proteas hope to make their first appearance in a final of the Men’s T20 World Cup.
 
South Africa Squad:
 
Aiden Markram (c), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs
 
The dangerous Heinrich Klaasen has been in top form since the start of this year. Across all T20 competitions, Klaasen has smashed 69 maximums in 25 matches from 25 matches.
 
Klaasen brings versatility. Not only can he keep wickets, he also brings with himself the ability to attack against spin bowling with a strike rate of 159.09 against them in T20s. His performance in this year's SA20 and the IPL has confirmed that he can play the explosive middle-order batter role to perfection.
 
Wanindu Hasaranga will undertake his first major assignment as the newly appointed Sri Lanka. The Lions have struck balance with a unit that checks most of the boxes.
 
Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, and Dhananjaya De Silva compose for a firm batting group. Angelo Mathews and Dasun Shanaka bring experience as seam-bowling all-rounders with captain Hasaranga and Dunith Wellalage as the spin-bowling all-rounders.
 
Maheesh Theekshana is expected to share spin duties with Hasaranga equally. Dilshan Madushanka’s bowling prowess in the Powerplay will be lethal to deal with Matheesha Pathirana to take care of the final overs with Dushmantha Chameera, and Nuwan Thushara completing the pace attack.
 
Sri Lanka Squad:
 
Wanindu Hasaranga (c), Charith Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Kamindu Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya De Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Thushara, Matheesha Pathirana, Dilshan Madushanka. Traveling Reserves: Asitha Fernando, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, and Janith Liyanage
 
A bowler who can deliver every ball at over 145 kmph with a lethal yorker in his arsenal – Matheesha Pathirana will prove a headache for most batters especially in the death overs.
 
Pathirana’s recent exploits at the Indian Premier League (IPL) have added to his reputation as a dangerous pacer despite only having played six T20Is. In only six games for Chennai in IPL 2024, the death-specialist to13 wickets with an economy rate of 7.68.
 
Although he returned midway through the IPL season with a hamstring injury, Pathirana has been named in the squad and is expected to be fit in time.

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