Skippers Afridi, Sangakkara leading from the front

Ravi Shastri
cricket blogs for Yahoo Cricket Columns

With the
quarterfinals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 about to begin, it is a good
time to assess the form of the captains of the eight surviving teams. Let me take
up the performance of the skippers in the league stage in the order in which
they figure on the Castrol Index.


Pakistan captain Shahid
(Castrol Index 115) is the kind of character who has been
inspirational. He has had a very good tournament with the ball, claiming 17
wickets and securing a Bowling Efficiency of 103 - the best among those who
have bowled more than just a couple of overs. He has the kind of body language,
the energy and the presence on the field that rubs off on the other players.


Daniel Vettori
(Castrol Index 93) is a quality player himself but he can only do so much
tactically with that New Zealand side. Because of the kind of talent it has,
the team seems to be going through its paces. If Vettori can put up a big
performance by getting wickets in his 10 overs, he can add more value to New
Zealand than the runs he can get. At the moment, his Batting Momentum (63) is
higher than his Bowling Efficiency (34)


Sri Lanka's Kumar
(Castrol Index 88) is one captain who has led from the front by
getting runs in tough situations. And that has contributed to his Batting
Efficiency being a very high 78 at the end of the league games. Besides, the
experienced captain has marshalled his resources well.


England's Andrew
has been very good as shown by his fairly high Castrol Index of 77.
He has shown himself as a tough competitor who thrives in the big match - as he
did when he got that brilliant hundred against India in Bangalore. I won't be
surprised if in that quarterfinal against Sri Lanka he gets off to a good start
and lead England in the right direction.


I think Darren
has a problem despite his Castrol Index being 54, thanks to a decent
Bowling Efficiency (42). To be honest, he is struggling to hold his place in the
West Indies side. And that is putting immense pressure on his captaincy as
well. I reckon if he weren't the captain, he would probably not be in the side.


India's Mahendra
Singh Dhoni
(Castrol Index 33) has been cool and composed. If anything, he
would have been happy with a few more runs under his belt so that his Batting
Momentum would be higher than the 26 he has to show so far. He has backed his
instincts but that is Dhoni for you. I thought he was outstanding, tactically,
in that game against the West Indies where he used the spinners upfront in what
was a masterstroke and held back Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel for he knew there
would be some reverse swing.


South African
skipper Graeme Smith (Castrol Index 31) has not had much to do as a
captain. His side has done everything for him. It is a good all-round unit and
he is a seasoned campaigner himself. The players have understood their roles
and delivered. There is not really much more that he could do as captain,
though - as his Batting Momentum (25) on the Castrol Index suggests - he would
have liked to get into the kind of batting form that makes him a dangerous


Among the leading
captains, Ricky Ponting (Castrol Index 20) is the one who has struggled
as he has not got runs. His own form with the bat - a Batting Momentum of 21 is
just not something anyone would associate with him - has affected how he has
used the resources at his disposal. He has been cranky and grumpy on the field
and that has not helped. If he gets runs, all that may change.


Ravi Shastri is writing in his role as a Castrol Index spokesperson.