In a lighter vein, has the forthcoming ICC World XI T20 against the West Indies become an injured World XI?
There’s reason to define the charity T20 contest on those lines given the constant spate of injuries that are taking a toll on the keenly-anticipated game.
A few hours back, it was reported that there would be no Hardik Pandya against the West Indies in the charity T20 on May 31. Now, there’s confirmation on news that owing to a suddenly injured finger, Eoin Morgan will no longer be participating in the contest.
Eoin Morgan joins the injured list
There are blows. Then there are big blows. Perhaps, given his rich vein of form and an ability to elevate ODI and T20 contests, Eoin Morgan’s absence augurs to be slotted in the latter category. A lot of damage from the bat could’ve been exerted by Morgan, who alone in 2017 collected over 750 ODI runs.
At the outset, you could simply attribute Eoin Morgan’s to a freak injury, submitting that such things happen all the time. But when you realize that he was to lead the ICC World XI, you realize it’s more than just a blow.
With two major players missing from a line-up that’ll now depend on at least four grand stars to pull it through- Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Tamim Iqbal, Rashid Khan- suddenly the team seems low on fuel.
But here’s why Eoin Morgan would’ve come handy
There’s an instant dichotomy in the fact that Eoin Morgan had only just recently played the West Indies, during Jason Holder’s side’s tour in 2017. While on the one hand, he would’ve had the benefit of reading Holder, Bishoo and others much closer, he would’ve also had to deal with a concern.
It wasn’t the best series that Morgan had. On the contrary, he endured a horrible ODI chaos, his highest score being only 19 off 17 balls in a batting-heavy contest defined by blokes like Buttler, Root and, Bairstow.
But that said, an intelligent thinking cricketer, who’s not afraid to pull the pressure plugs on his opponents, Morgan’s captaincy on home conditions against a team his side battered only recently would’ve been an advantage.
Alas, that onus now seems certain to shift either toward Shahid Afridi or may even rest on Dinesh Karthik’s shoulders, under whose guidance the Kolkata Knight Riders were able to qualify for the playoffs.
Will Shahid Afridi be a good choice?
Even though the world XI has someone like a Dinesh Karthik, who, only recently, took KKR to a competitive stage and took care of his batting numbers, when it comes to shortest formats of the game, there’s little doubt about the suave right-hander Shahid Afridi as the leader.
Few in the game have been able to add a dash of style to pure massacring of fast bowlers.
The key lynchpin of so many of Pakistan’s successes in the late 90s and throughout 2000s, Afridi’s mere presence is known to send shockwaves down a bowlers’ spines.
Gayle may call himself the Universe Boss but an entire cricketing universe hails Afridi as ‘Boom-Boom’. We know what happens when the familiar wooden blade produces iron-like strikes all over the ground.
Surely, Afridi’s greatest strength may not be the column that states percentage of wins as captains. During his in-and-out stints concentrated toward the latter half of his career, there were more abdications, irrational altercations with the board and indifferences with players than any harmony.
But most of Pakistan’s current crop of players like Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik, although an experienced statesman of the game have grown up watching Afridi’s bellowing of his bowlers. So there’s this unsaid regard for a true fighter of the game and someone who enjoys the trust of people, even if it’s core surface is built around the enjoyment, excitement his capabilities as a batsman have fetched over his skills as a competent leader.
Moreover, there is tons of experience Afridi possesses against West Indies
He may not have hammered daddy hundreds against a capricious T20 side that can turn both volatile or vulnerable on the same day but Afridi has plenty of games in his armoury seeing the likes of Bishoo, Gayle, Holder and the difference they bring with reference to their individual games.
Moreover, the camaraderie Afridi also enjoys with close-knit talents from the sub-continent- including those from Bangladesh, India, would more likely help him take the leadership mantle responsibly and with great spirit.
On a day where poor bowling persists by the West Indies, as is often the case, not to mention the spate of extras, they have a natural tendency to generate, it may all be curtains for the Caribbean blokes especially if Afridi gets going. An interesting perspective, in this regard, would be to know where he comes out to bat?