Welcome to the latest installment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today sees the Is last four match ups, with that team currently on 11 out of 105 and then the Js take to the spotlight, of which more later. The T20 World Cup saw two cracking matches today – Sri Lanka won convincingly in the first match, and the India-Pakistan match was one of the most extraordinary matches ever seen. Pakistan scored 159-8 batting first, and India lost four early wickets in the reply before Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya shared an excellent partnership. In the closing stages Pakistan had a problem – they had one of their minor bowlers, Mohammad Nawaz with one over still to bowl, and gambled on bowling the fast bowlers through first and leaving him with the 20th over. When India needed 28 with eight balls remaining it looked to have worked, but Kohli hit sixes off the last two balls of the 19th and Nawaz had ‘only’ 16 to defend rather than 20+. Things went well for Nawaz initially and India needed 13 off the last three balls, and then calamity struck for Nawaz – he bowled a no-ball which was clouted for six, and then his next delivery was called wide and suddenly it was five needed off three balls. By the time the last ball was due to be bowled scores were level, and Ashwin, on strike, kept a cool head and took India across the line. Kohli, who had recovered from an awful start (12* off 21 balls) to finish on 82* was the only candidate for Player of the Match.
THE Is V THE Ws
The Ws win the batting match ups all the way down to number six, have the better skipper, absolutely dominate on the fast bowling front, and even outdo the Is in spin bowling, the latter’s strongest suit. There can be only one score: Is 0, Ws 5.
THE Is V THE Xs
The Is are for once ahead on batting, neither side has much pace bowling, though MaX Walker is the best single practitioner on either side, and the Is are a bit ahead on spin bowling. As against that BoX claims the keeping honours and less far below Imtiaz Ahmed in batting than the figures suggest – the best batter of BoX’s era, Fuller Pilch, averaged less than 20 in FC cricket. This is a tough one to call, but I think the presence of MaX Walker just swings it the way of the Xs – Is 2, Xs 3.
THE Is V THE Ys
The Is have the better opening pair, with T Iqbal the class act of the four players concerned. The Ys win the 3,4 and 5 slots. Iremonger at six outranks Yardley in both departments, S Yousuf wins the keeping honours by more than Imtiaz Ahmed wins the batting order. The Ys dominate the bowling, with even their pace attack outranking that of the Is and the spin attack being of similar standards. I think the Ys are winning this quite comfortably: Is 1, Ys 4.
THE Is V THE Zs
The Zs have marginally the stronger top six, but none of their front line bowlers can do anything significant with the bat. The Zs have the better new ball bowlers, the Is the better spinners. Illingworth rates higher as a skipper than Zaman. I think the all round skills of Iremonger and the higher standard of the Is spinners plus Illingworth’s captaincy swing it their way: Is 3, Zs 2.
THE Is FINAL RESULTS
The Is have scored 6 points out of 20 today and finish with 17 out of 125, 13.6% overall.
THE Js V THE Ks
The Js have 24.5 of a possible 45 points in the bank as they take the spotlight.
The Js have the better top three, the Ks are stronger batting wise in positions three through seven, but Jupp and Johnson partly compensate for that. The Ks have the better fast bowling, although the left arms of Johnson and Johnston give the Js extra variation. The Js with Jupp’s off spin, Jayasuriya and Johnston in his slower style have a better balance spin combo than the Ks. I think the Ks have this, but the Js are far from negligible: Js 2, Ks 3.
THE Js PROGRESS REPORT
The Js have 26.5 of a possible 55 points, 48.18%.
My usual sign off…