England’s captain Eoin Morgan in action against Afghanistan during their World Cup match. Reuters
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Sharjah: In the right-handed dominated world, left-handers are a minority, yet they make their presence felt assertively.
The lefties are generally considered as more immaculate, impeccable and elegant as compared to their right-hand counter-parts and carry an aura around them -- making them stand out in the crowd.
Sports too, has its share of lefties who have left an indelible impression with their prowess and proficiency.
Their names are engraved on the pinnacle of every sport and are considered as epitomes of success, blazing a trail in their respective disciplines.
Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, decorated boxer Manny Pacquiao and football legend Messi are but a few shining examples.
Cricket too has seen many great left-handers, who have left a rich legacy. Sir Garfield Sobers, Clive Llyod, Graeme Pollock, Allan Border and David Gower -- their exploits have been the subject of adulation, both by pundits and fans of the gentleman’s game.
Arguably so, Brian Lara was one of the most prolific left-handed batsmen who graced the 22 yards. Lara’s style was simple but elegant.
His stance was little unconventional, with knees little bent and high back-lift, which allowed him to conjure shots out of nowhere and dispatch even good deliveries to beyond the boundary.
He is the only player to have scored a century, double century, triple century and a quadruple century in Test cricket -- with a score of 500 plus in a first class game to boot.
Sourav Ganguly, the Prince of Kolkata, was another naturally-gifted batsman and a sweet timer of the ball. His cover drives and square cuts were a delight to watch.
Yuvraj Singh is another name, which stands out as the best leftie to have played white-ball cricket -- intimidating even the best bowlers of his time.
Yuvraj holds the record of hitting six sixes in an over against England and was named man of the tournament in the 2011 World Cup when India won the showpiece event.
Unlike Lara, Sourav and Yuvraj, Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka was not stylish but he was one of the most destructive and feared batsmen of his era. The Sri Lankan opener played an important role when Lanka won the World Cup in 1996. Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist, Saeed Anwar, Shiv Narine Chanderpaul, Matthew Hayden and Andy Flower are other names that cannot be left out when discussing left-handed batsmen.
All of them were charismatic and domineering. They were the mainstay of their nation’s batting line-ups for decades. Chris Gayle, who is on the cusp of calling it quits, has been carrying that legacy of lefties after the retirement of all these legends. He is a natural hitter of the ball and his ability to pick up the length of the ball is impeccable.
In the last three matches, three lefties –– Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh, Eoin Morgan of England and David Warner of Australia –– have done again what specimens of their species are famous for.
All three of them decimated the opposition attack mercilessly. Morgan was the most brutal of the three, with Shakib resolute and Warner sublime.
Defying the norms, Shakib tore apart the West Indian pace battery and Morgan lacerated the famous Afghan spin attack of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, while Warner demolished the Bangladesh attack.
Morgan hit 17 sixes en route to his 71-ball 148 that left the Afghan bowlers bruised and battered. Records were tumbling like Jack and Jill, one after the other, as Afghanistan conceded 180 runs in last 15 overs, with 122 coming off Morgan’s bat alone.
Shakib too, was flawless and made light work of the huge West Indies target of 322, leading his team to a historic win with a fine century. Warner did what he is best at, destroying the opposition ruthlessly. All three are 32 and still have few years of cricket left in them. Watching the three bat gives one an intuition that the legacy of left-handers are truly in the right hands.
Joe Root is determined the “spicy” nature of England’s latest clash with Australia won’t prove a distraction when the arch rivals meet for a place in the World Cup final.
Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon says his side will be the underdogs when they face hosts England in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals. “They have been the No. 1 team for a couple of years now.
Virat Kohli admits Rohit Sharma’s blistering form has made him alter his own role in the top-order as India gear up for Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Sri Lanka's top players — T20I skipper Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella — have opted out of the tour starting on Sept.27.
"I want to invite them to Turin or Lisbon to come to have dinner with me because I want to give something back."
Singapore’s skies were clearer on Friday and air quality improved as smog from Indonesian forest fires drifted away, easing fears that this weekend’s Formula One race may be affected.