Play­ers to watch in the Cham­pi­ons

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Shakib Al Hasan, the world’s lead­ing all­rounder in ODIs, is revered in Bangladesh.

The left-handed bats­man is fast ap­proach­ing 5,000 runs in ODIs, sec­ond high­est in Bangladesh his­tory, and his left-arm spin has claimed more than 200 wick­ets.

His wide range of strokes has given him flex­i­bil­ity on de­mand­ing for­eign pitches, and his ag­gres­sive strokes have net­ted him a sec­ond-best six cen­turies, mostly from No 5.

“His pres­ence ... just lifts the con­fi­dence in the en­tire dress­ing room,” cap­tain Mashrafe Mur­taza said.

There might not be a player bet­ter in the last 10 overs of an in­nings than But­tler, who re­mains com­posed even in the tough­est of sce­nar­ios and doesn’t need to play him­self in be­fore un­load­ing his box of tricks.

With But­tler around, there will be no such thing as a lost cause for Eng­land in the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy.

Quin­ton de Kock played base­ball be­fore he turned to cricket, but the switch was a good one for South Africa.

By the age of 24, De Kock al­ready has 12 ODI cen­turies, 12 half-cen­turies, over 3,000 ODI runs and col­lects them at a fierce strike rate of 95.42. He also has the third-high­est score by a South African in ODIs, a 178 off 113 balls against Aus­tralia in Septem­ber.

De­spite a fairly small stature and boy­ish looks, he can make bound­ary-hit­ting look ef­fort­less, as the baby-faced left-han­der did when he crushed Aus­tralia’s bowl­ing at­tack for that 178.

De Kock is a form player and when the open­ing bats­man’s eye is in, he can put South Africa ahead of the game im­me­di­ately, whether that is by set­ting big tar­gets or chas­ing them down.

Equally com­fort­able play­ing a cover drive or step­ping back to pull, hook, and cut, he made three cen­turies in a row early in his ca­reer in a se­ries against In­dia and went on a run of four half-cen­turies and a cen­tury in con­sec­u­tive ODIs at the be­gin­ning of this year.

De Kock would be in South Africa’s team for his bat­ting alone but he also is a sharp wick­et­keeper, free­ing up space for an­other bats­man or bowler.

Moises Henriques owed his un­ex­pected se­lec­tion for Aus­tralia as much for com­ing into form as his ri­vals’ own was de­clin­ing.

Henriques was picked ahead of bats­men such as Us­man Khawaja, Peter Hand­scomb, Ge­orge Bai­ley, and all­rounder James Faulkner.

The Por­tuguese-born Henriques has been a fringe player for the national squad, play­ing only eight ODIs from his de­but in 2009 to his last match in Au­gust. The all­rounder has tal­lied 46 runs at an av­er­age of 6.5 and his medium pace has claimed six wick­ets at an av­er­age of 40.

And yet he was cho­sen on form, do­mes­ti­cally, and in the In­dian Premier League, where he av­er­aged 46 with the bat in 11 in­nings, and took one wicket.

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