No trouble for the Twenty20 big guns

There have been no major upsets at the Twenty20 World Cup, which sees the same familiar faces in the Super Eights stage.

    No trouble for the Twenty20 big guns
    Defending champions England are through despite being thrashed by India, who also make Super Eights [GETTY]

    There were no jitters for the big teams in the first round of the World Twenty20 as all eight of them cruised into the Super Eights starting from Thursday.

    Afghanistan, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh failed to spring a surprise before bowing out in the group stage.

    With the Super Eights split into two groups, Group 2 looks marginally more challenging, with South Africa, Australia and former champions India and Pakistan in the chase for semifinal berths.

    Hosts Sri Lanka take on New Zealand on Thursday in Group 1, which includes defending champions England and West Indies, who meet in a double-header at Pallekele International Stadium.

    All four Group 2 teams won their first-round matches while West Indies is the only team to progress without a victory, doing so on superior run-rate after its matches against Australia (loss) and Ireland (abandoned) were affected by rain.

    The three subcontinent teams - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - will be relying heavily on their spinners.

    Sri Lanka finger spinner Ajantha Mendis broke his own world record with staggering figures of 6-8 against Zimbabwe.

    Offspinner Harbhajan Singh returned after a year out with an impressive four-wicket haul against England as India shot out the defending champ for only 80 after posting 170-4.

    Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal also took four wickets against New Zealand and denied the Black Caps a victory with two wickets in the last over. The Asian teams' pacemen struggled to curtail the flow of runs, but there was no such headache for South Africa, New Zealand and England.

    South Africa's Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel bowled with lot of verve and Sri Lanka lost their rain-curtailed seven-overs-a-side match against the Proteas by 32 runs.

    Familiar venue

    New Zealand's Kyle Mills and Tim Southee knocked over Bangladesh's top order with six wickets between them after Brendon McCullum smashed a best-ever T20 innings of 123 off 72 balls.

    New Zealand have the advantage of knowing the conditions well at Pallekele as they played both of their first-round matches there.

    "The main message is to be aggressive and not let them settle"

    Kiwis skipper Ross Taylor

    Kiwis skipper Ross Taylor hoped his batsmen will also show as much aggression against the Sri Lanka spinners as they did against Bangladesh.

    "The main message is to be aggressive and not let them settle,'' Taylor said.

    "The two games that we've had against Pakistan and Bangladesh, there was one short boundary and one big boundary... if there is a short boundary then we need to attack that.''

    A host team has yet to win the World Twenty20, but Sri Lanka hopes to end that jinx thanks to Mendis, Lasith Malinga, captain Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara.

    Mendis missed the rain-shortened game against South Africa due to a side strain during his record-breaking performance against Zimbabwe. Coach Graham Ford said it would be a setback if Mendis could not recover for Thursday's match.

    "With the way he bowled and the x-factor he brings, it would be a big blow,'' Ford said.

    "In T20 cricket you want guys who can win matches on their own and he's one of those guys.''

    Highs and lows

    Led by Luke Wright's brilliant 99, England's top order flourished against the mediocre bowling attack of Afghanistan before they hit rock bottom against Indian spinners at Colombo.

    There will be no letup for them in the Super Eights, where they will face the likes of Mendis and West Indies' offspinner Sunil Narine.

    "I think it's important for the batsmen to get back into the nets and feel hitting the ball again. It's all a state of mind, getting yourself back into a positive frame,'' England captain Stuart Broad said.

    West Indies' batting reputation precedes it, so much of its hopes rest on Narine helping to restrict opponents.

    "Sunil is our trump card, he has done well for us in this format and hopefully he could have a big impact on the English batting lineup"

    West Indies captain Darren Sammy

    "Sunil is our trump card, he has done well for us in this format and hopefully he could have a big impact on the English batting lineup,'' captain Darren Sammy said.

    "We definitely look to bowl spin against them, but we have quality seam bowlers up front in Fidel (Edwards) and (Ravi) Rampaul.''

    Pakistan have problems with their pacemen, but their top order batsmen all have showed decent form, with Imran Nazir smashing 72 against Bangladesh and Nasir Jamshed scoring 56 against New Zealand. Captain Mohammad Hafeez also played useful knocks of 43 and 45.

    Pakistan struggle when chasing a target. Although they successfully chased down 176 on Tuesday against Bangladesh for the loss of only two wickets, the competition is much stronger from here on.

    "In the pace bowling department there's probably a bit of an issue with the implementation of the basics,'' Hafeez said.

    "Mohammad Akram (the bowling coach) is working hard at this, but sometimes things just don't work out.''



    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Curate an art exhibition and survive Thailand's censorship crackdown in this interactive game.