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The mighty and magnificent of T20 cricket

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ICC_T20_World_Cup_2016_India_WorldT20Cricket is a nervy game and T20, its most striking representation. And T20 is quite the tequila shot which you'd rather have it than have it not. 

Unpredictable in every sip, you can almost gulp down a T20 offering and emerge sassy and coolly ecstatic. All that said, excitement and fun, quite the sweep and reverse sweep of T20 cricket aren't just catered to by the committed Australians, or the awe-inspiring Indians, clearly the team to beat owing to the likes of Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Ashwin and company. 

An avalanche of excitement is presented by 2 imposing sides whose strength on one hand and unpredictability on the other, has lead to immense popularity of the game. Akin to naming a certain Sachin Tendulkar when it comes to the discussion of the best batsman in the game, you cannot not mention the resolute South Africa and the fun-loving West Indies in describing the shortest format of the game, also the most watched globally, at the moment. 

Their individual accomplishments and team performances have added an icing on the T20 cake and you can be sure, that it's quite a dessert to have. 

The 2 dynamic sides have exuded an interesting thrill-fest and created some record breaking moments when facing each other in the T20 arena. Just the mere mention of having a side with the likes of big hitters like Gayle, Bravo, Sammy and Russell on one hand and the toughies of the class and caliber of du Plessis, de Villiers, Amla and Miller on the other is a mouth watering appetite on which to gorge merrily. 

Let's analyze the key strengths of easily 2 of the most unpredictable and lanky outfits in world cricket's most exciting format:

The Classy and thinking masters : South Africa

Just think of it. Australians today, despite having a bating line-up that includes Warner, Watson, Maxwell, Smith and Faulkner are not nearly as invincible that they once seemed and became under Waugh and Ponting's era. Apart from India, a side that comes so painstakingly close to conquering the all mighty World T20, and yet fails despite all the grandeur and might, you can only think of South Africa. 

Rainbow colored in hope and ambition and smoking the green out of their rivals, the Proteas are a side that seem lanky and even scary given the all round talent in all departments of the game, even the ability to mentally smoke the pipe of their opponent's mind. Let's not count the recent heartbreak against England at Mumbai.

Amla and De Kock love to party

A side which sends the left handed partly elegant and partly pinch hitting de Kock to throw discomfort to the bowler lands up with Hashim Amla, among the most gifted batsman in the modern day game. Their openers can hit big, defend the really good ones gracefully and compile runs as easily as drinking aqua. Furthermore, with a wonderful tally of 1050 runs from an average of 39, with a highest score of 119, captain courageous du Plessis's arrivals which often happens when they are off to a flier sends in more trouble to the opposition.

The A to Z of AB and Do you du Plessis?

Here's a guy you would love to watch whilst he does both- hitting the ball very hard and nonchalantly compiling runs from all over - and not get tired. Muscular and agile, Faf is a great fielder who wouldn't stop diving at anything unless it's an explosive on the cricket field. 

With the arrival of unarguably the best batsman out there, AB knows the A to Z of cricket's most unique batting strokes. He's majestic when he comes down the track, unstoppable at lose balls, and aggressive like a bull on the run when he wants it, against spin and pace. There's hardly a ball that can contain de Villiers, scorer of 1300 T20 runs, at a strike rate of 132, that's little better than Amla's 130 and just behind du Plessis. 

And that's not all. Big hitting David Miller can also come and uproot the best bowlers to all sides of the ground with those flat batted hoics and heaves over long on and deep mid wicket. 

Spin it like Tahir

T20 isn't sadly regarded as a bowler's game. On his day, this can surely be taken very seriously by South Africa's best leggie thus far, Imran Tahir. He turns it sharp and is miserly. Nearing 37, Tahir who is not going to get any younger has the fire in those veins and the guts with which he exemplifies the Protean resolve. 

He's their best bowler with 40 wickets in 25 innings at an average of 15, can you believe it? What's more he's got Dale Steyn for company. 

Committed, aggressive and a tightly packed unit, South Africa will have to be vary of the indecisiveness of their batsmen's shot selection which hampers results some time and of the charge of their ideal opponents: the carefree Windies.

The mayhem makers: West Indies

If there was ever a cricket team that personified the rationale of life, "live each day as it comes", then its probably the West Indies. Perhaps, one feels they were waiting for the T20 version to arrive to have their DNA expressed with this philosophical erudition. 

Easy going, playing to have fun and playing attacking cricket at the same time, who can dislike the affable West Indies? Perhaps, AB De Villiers, the man who rattled them time and again, during last world cup's outing at Melbourne and the world record breaking onslaught back at home in South Africa would agree as well! Jason Holder, are you willing to take the bowl again? :)

Not actually a one man unit

Largely misunderstood as a one man unit thanks to the mighty bat of Chris the "king of good times" Gayle, West Indies have brutal power hitters who play like there's no tomorrow. Their belting of Pakistan in last edition of World T20 at Bangladesh where Bravo and Sammy took over with 6 over's remaining post an early departure of Gayle and Samuels is a classic example of them playing in comfortable skin given the T20 format. 

Sammy's wham bammy 

Captain Sammy hits big. Reference to context being the specific demolition of Aussie left armer Faulkner. In the virtual quarter final in 2014 World T20, all it took for Sammy to run over the Aussies was the classic James Faulkner rebuke, "I don't like the Windies". The result: Windies chased down a hefty 179 with 3 balls remaining thanks to Darren Sammy's 13 ball 34. 

They have been the crown champions in the 2012 edition in classic 'gangnam' style. While the mighty around them like India and Australia collapsed miserably, theirs was a rise that was quite unstoppable then in Sri Lanka. Interestingly, not only does Gayle receive support from constantly shuffling sidekicks, such as Andre Fletcher or Lendl Simmons, the former refreshed from scoring a cracking 64 ball 84 against Lankans a few days back, he's got the elegance and brilliance of Marlon Samuels, easily cricket's great underachiever on the other end to help him construct big totals or chase a few.

Samuels, Badree and more

But, the same underachiever flexed his arms, on Malinga and company and looked in ominous form 4 years back in Lanka's own den, in the final. The result was one way traffic. The cup swayed to West Indies' gangnam style moves, on both the cricket pitch and on ground. The soldier of the day was Samuels with a brilliant 79.

While he isn't an ace, he's graced the game of T20 with quite some turn, spin and blaze. 

Samuel Badree is the pick of the Windies bowlers and also their most consistent one in the format, taking 34 wickets at an average of 16 with best bowling figures of 4 for 15. Even his economy rate for T20's explosive standards is a frugal 5.43. 

Gaylestorm anyone?

But, how can you not talk of Gayle when talking of West Indies in their most loved format? 

The only batsman to have hit 2 T20 centuries, the first against the opposition he will be hoping to demolish again today, South Africa will be vary of the Gaylestorm threat. His masterly 117 came in 2007, the inaugural season. A few years down the line, where many could have expected the Jamaican to have become somewhat subdued, he rose again, this time in Mumbai with a belter of a 100 off 48 balls.

Last year in 2015, he and Samuels fired Proteas at their own sanctuary, chasing down 237 off 20 overs. Gayle was on 90 with 7 sixes and Samuel's power play was enough to curtail Faf's brilliant 119. 

Big hitting, unpredictable and funny, the Windies can either make a clown of themselves or of their oppositions, without quite resorting to balance and steadiness. But, then has that ever been prescribed in the Calypso rulebook. 

Away we go. Let the best man rise.

 


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