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Low Profile, High Skill

They are not superstars. Yet they can swing the fortunes of their teams.

Low Profile, High Skill
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Whether it is with the bat, the ball, in the field, or through a combination of quantity skills, all countries competing in the 1996 World Cup would have players with abilities superior to others on the same side. With an inspired performance, many of these players would ability to turn or win a match from any Because of their ability, these players relied upon by their team-mates and their supporters. They are also a focus of media which can put a lot of extra pressure on them.

These "superstars" often accept the extra challenges; however, this is what every do—they can all win matches. While India has superstars in Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammed Azharuddin and Pakistan in Wasim Akram Waqar Younis, Sri Lanka has Aravinda De Silva and the West Indies Brian Lara. Much has been  said about them, therefore I intend to take a closer look at other players in their teams, who are just as likely to make an impact in the 1996 World Cup .

In particular, I believe players like Manoj Prabhakar and Anil Kumble from India, Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed, Arjuna Ranatunga and Chaminda Vaas from Sri Lanka and Carl Hooper and Curtly Ambrose from the West Indies could be all outstanding performers in the World Cup.

Prabhakar is one of the most under-rated players in world cricket and is likely to make a big impact during the Cup. He has the rare ability to open both batting and bowling, which strengthens the Indian cause as well as allowing them more flexibility in team selection. He is a genuine all-rounder with a highest score of 106 and best bowling figures of 5-35. He can bat for long periods, anchoring an innings and allowing the free-scoring stroke-makers to play around his innings. With his lively deliveries, Prabhakar takes wickets with the new ball, which he tends to bowl wide of the crease, angling the ball in towards the batsman. At times he gets the ball to hold its line and move away, encouraging nicks to the keeper.

Kumble's leg spin is match-winner stuff. He bowls at a brisk pace, reminding me of the very successful Chandra shekhar. He is also accurate, gets the ball to spinand bounce and is difficult to score from. He's likely to genuinely dismiss batsmen either with his skill or by frustrating them and enticing them to hit out. Any team would like to have Kumble's skill and added variety, he can be that devastating. He is approaching 100 one day international wickets, with a career best of 6-12.

Over the years, Pakistan has produced many quality players. To me, Inzamam is a joy to watch. Physically he has a presence at the crease, but the way he builds an innings is sheer class. He looks for the ones and twos by playing the ball down to third man and behind square on the leg side. He demonstrates his level of concentration and skill when he reaches 30 or 40 runs, often playing some punishing shots with ease and power, appearing to have a lot of time to play the ball and playing it very late. After nearly 100 games, a highest score of 137* and a one day average of nearly 42, he is an old hand who will be key for Pakistan. New Zealanders willre member his knock of 60 off 37 balls in the semi-finals of the 1992 World Cup in Auckland, where he single-handedly dashed their chances of victor y with a cultivated piece of stroke play which contained a touch of genius.

Leg spin bowling in one day cricket has been a relatively rare occurrence, but with Kumble, Warne and now Mushtaq Ahmed becoming game-breakers and match-winners in their own right, there is a buzz of excitement around cricket grounds when one of these bowlers is handed the ball. Mushtaq is a delight to watch. Although short-statured, he has a bouncy delivery and demonstrates some nice skills. He tends to bowl a lot of top spinners but he attacks the batsman. Surprisingly, his best one day figures are 3-14, but if he has completed his 10 overs and taken 2-40, he still has done a wonderful job.

Sri Lanka, the most improved team in both Test and one day cricket, has come of age in the last 12 months. They obviously enjoy their cricket and are playing with an air of confidence. Their batting is very strong and with greater depth in their bowling, they could be world beaters. The 170-games-old Arjuna Ranatunga, their captain for many years, is what I call a "run-a-ball man"—with delicate dabs, late cuts, and flicks, accumulating his runs with a high strike rate and depending on theurgency of the situation, striking the ball to all parts of the field. Having scored nearly 5,000 runs, he is able to add consistency and stability to the batting. And his bowling—with a tally of 70 scalps, including a career best of 4-14—is useful. To be sure, they have other match-winners in Aravinda De Silva and Hashan Tillekaratne.

Pace bowling has generally been a problem for Sri Lanka. In the 1980s the Ratnayakes—Rumesh and Ravi—were successful, but since then only Wickra-masinghe has survived. I like Chaminda Vaas, the lively left arm seamer. Although he is short of stature for a fast bowler, he made a wonderful impression in New Zealand in 1995 where he was undoubtedly the man of the series. He has the ability to genuinely dismiss the batsman and he bowled intelligently and skilfully with nice variations. As another all rounder in the side—with career-best figures of 4-20 and a useful late order batsman—he provides a nice option for Ranatunga and could make a significant impact.

The West Indies has lost form and confidence in recent months. All they need is one or two key players to lift their individual games, that should see a revitalised West Indian side. For instance, Hooper is a player of great class, yet we haven't seen him maximise his potential. I first saw him play in 1985 in the West Indies where, as an 18-year-old, he showed all the glimpses of his ability. However, he hasn't been as consistent as the West Indians would have liked. And this is the best time for him to respond. He's elegant, times the ball well and has played 130-odd games, scoring over 3,000 runs with a highest of 113*. His off-spin is more than useful, with best figures of 4-34.

I have always admired quality fast bowling. There can be no better sight than to see a Lillee, Holding or Marshall running in and bowling the ball at 90 mph, getting it to seam, swing and bounce. Curtly Ambrose is also a sight to see. At approximately 6'10", he can be a very intimidating sight for any batsman as he runs towards them, preparing to unleash the ball. Ambrose has proven ability. He has a nagging line, length, pace and bounce and is very difficult to score from. He can dismiss a batsman at any time during any of his spells. His career best of 5-17 shows his excellent economy rate. He is possibly one of the best new ball bowlers in world cricket today.

As Courtney Walsh and "King Curtly" have shown many times in the past, if the West Indies can get early wickets, their confidence will grow and they will prove to be a very difficult team to beat.

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