Let’s take a look at ten showdowns between the bat and the ball, that are sure to leave you asking for more. Also sign in and tell us about the battles that you have enjoyed watching. Let’s play gentlemen. This is an excerpt from a larger article posted on MSN.

These contests will surely make the 2011 World Cup an exciting tournament to watch.

Shoaib Akhtar Vs Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag loves to go after everything that Shoaib Akhtar wants to throw (no pun intended) at him. While Akhtar is not the bowler he used to be, Sehwag has gone from strength to strength. Nevertheless, watching Akhtar charging in to bowl at Sehwag is something worth looking forward to. Try pitching it short on the off-stump line, and Sehwag is sure to free his arms in an attempt to clear the third man boundary. What Akhtar can do is attack the Nawab’s feet, and hope that Sehwag plays across. Let’s not forget to mention the sledging; Akhtar loves offering Sehwag a compliment, every time the latter plays and misses. The ‘Nawab of Najafgarh’ on his part is never slow on the uptake, and gives it back in his own subtle style. Definitely a contest worth watching.

Sachin Tendulkar Vs Dale Steyn

The reason why this battle is going to be keenly watched is because this is going to be a contest between the world’s best batsman ever and the world’s best fast bowler at the moment. Steyn’s strength is his 140+ km/h pace, and a bag of tricks typically expected from an aggressive fast bowler. Against Sachin, Steyn has gone wrong with his line and length. During the ODI against India in 2010 at Gwalior, Steyn’s yorker often turned into a full toss, and the lethal in swinger lost its edge as the ball moved towards the pads. In both scenarios, Sachin gave him the required treatment and as we all know, he went on to score a double century in that game- the highest ever score by a batsman in the ODI format. Dale Steyn has never dismissed Sachin Tendulkar in an ODI, and it will be interesting to see if this fact changes when India takes on South Africa on March 12 in Nagpur. But we all know that this battle is Sachin’s to lose.

Brett Lee Vs Shahid Afridi

Brett Lee’s lock and fire action is athletic, and Shahid Afridi’s technique- non-existent (thank God!) and spontaneous. Make the two face each other on the cricket field, and you have lip-smacking action on offer. Shahid Afridi is a man who personifies fearless batting, irrespective of the consequences. This reckless style has been criticized as it compromises the team’s position, and unlike Mahendra Singh Dhoni he has made no effort to mellow down. On the contrary, Binga has lost a little bit of zing thanks to injuries, but to underestimate him would be dangerous. Lee may not charge in the way he used to, but he bends his back and his deliveries as England recently found out, are still unplayable. Either way, bring it on boys!

Zaheer Khan Vs Graeme Smith

When Graeme Smith is batting, all that Zaheer Khan has to do is pitch the ball in the corridor of uncertainty. Irrespective of whether the ball moves in or moves away, Smith struggles to tackle the delivery because of his extravagant back lift. Shuffling his stance helps as Smith gets his body behind the ball, but his defence is usually breached because of the big gap between bat and pad. Playing with soft hands too, hasn’t stopped an edge from flying to the slips. The South African captain usually steps out with aggressive intentions, with a full-blooded drive through the off-side. Attack may be the best form of defence, but Smith should be better off at the non-striker’s end.

Kevin Pietersen Vs Harbhajan Singh

Will Kevin Pietersen be able to hit a six off Harbhajan Singh’s doosra? The delivery seems ideal for the shot, since the ball would be turning from leg to off, the line is ideal for the ball to be smacked with this stroke. KP did use the stroke successfully against Bhajji in the second Test between India and England at Mohali in December 2008. Pietersen is considered to be a good player of spin, and the fact that he is never afraid to step out, puts the bowler and the fielding side under big pressure. But having said so, anything can happen in the game of cricket, and if Harbhajan gets a little bit of bounce from the pitch, it could surprise Kevin Pietersen. All we have to do is wait till the 27th of February.

Sreesanth Vs Ponting

If Sreesanth and Ponting weren’t cricketers, they would have been great on a reality show. With their volatile personalities, the battle between these two will be a school teacher’s nightmare. Tempers notwithstanding, Sreesanth has a great seam position at the point of delivery, and is capable of extracting a lot of movement from the pitch. Ponting is one of the shrewdest cricketers the game has seen, with the best-looking pull/hook shot in the business. The two will make it a point to get under each other’s skins; a bouncer will be followed by a boundary, with not an inch being traded. Anything less would prove to be a dampener. As Sreesanth once told a press conference, “Mera naam Sreesanth hai, aur main bahut shanth hoon”. You are right Sree, doesn’t the sun rise in the West?!

Yuvraj Singh Vs Stuart Broad

At the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa, Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes in six balls off Stuart Broad. Both cricketers know that duplicating the feat is going to be unlikely, but for the cricket fan, an encore will be nothing short of spectacular. Yuvraj Singh is one of the cleanest hitters of the cricket ball, capable of playing strokes all over the park. Stuart Broad uses every inch of his 6 foot 5 inch frame to hit the deck hard, and his deliveries do generate a lot of pace and bounce. With no Andrew Flintoff around to provoke Yuvraj, Stuart Broad will be more than happy to take part in a straightforward contest between the bat and the ball. An angry Yuvraj Singh, is known to rise to the occasion with hulk-like intensity.

Shaun Tait Vs Chris Gayle

Shaun Tait has enough bait to tempt Chris Gayle into playing a big shot. The Australian’s powerful slingshot action has catapulted him to fame, with his deliveries being clocked at over 150+ kph. This is both his strength and his weakness, as his action has taken its toll on his body, resulting in frequent injuries that have kept him away from the sport. On the other hand, Chris Gayle is an equally unorthodox cricketer. The attacking opening batsman who uses his footwork only on the dance floor, relies heavily on brute hitting to unsettle the bowler. This is one contest that is surely going to be fast and furious.

Suresh Raina Vs Morne Morkel

Suresh Raina is a complete ODI batsman, with an attacking style where he uses proper cricketing shots to clear the boundary. Raina’s weakness is short-pitched bowling, as the left-hander struggles to get his bat out of the way when bombarded with the perfume ball. It is this weakness, that South African speed merchant Morne Morkel would love to exploit. The tall bowler is quick, and loves to watch the batsmen hop at the crease. We are sure Raina has had a word with coach and fellow left-hander Gary Kirsten on the issue. Let’s wait and watch.

Lasith Malinga Vs Yusuf Pathan

Two things are true about Lasith Malinga- he never cuts his hair, and he never cuts down on pace. The 27-year old Lankan kisses the ball before starting out on his run-up, taking quick well-paced steps towards the bowling crease, where he stops briefly, before bending his back to send a delivery, with the ball being released right in front of the umpire. Malinga’s biggest weapon is his yorker, lethal toe-crushers that batsmen have no answer to. It will be interesting to see how Yusuf Pathan tackles this delivery, because in this case he will have to be a tad quicker while getting his feet out of the way. Pathan, who is a ruthless hitter, will be looking to stand a few steps out of the crease, as this would give him the opportunity to negate the yorker’s final dip in trajectory. Watching this battle should surely keep you on the edge of your seat.

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