The clash between the ROW openers and the MCC bowlers should be a thrilling one © Getty Images
The clash between the RoW openers and the MCC bowlers should be a thrilling one © Getty Images

With the Lord’s bicentenary match between Marylebone Cricket Club and Rest of World XI being played on July 5, 2014, all eyes will be upon some key players. Both sides have legends of the game, and players who have made a name for themselves with some specialties. There will be a lot of key battles during the match and some may decide who will win in the end. Shrikant Shankar looks at the battle between the combination of Shaun Tait and Umar Gul versus Virender Sehwag and Adam Gilchrist.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) versus Rest of World (RoW) XI match is upon us and all eyes will be at Lord’s on July 5, 2014. The Home of Cricket’s bicentenary match has some stellar names on both sides that will grace the field. With Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne captaining the teams, it surely will be a mouth-watering contest. While MCC have some legendary yet steady batsmen, RoW have some big-hitters. The opposite can be said about either side’s bowling line-ups.

MCC have Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Umar Gul as their fast bowlers. The big-hitting batsmen at RoW XI are Adam Gilchrist, Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Kevin Pietersen and Yuvraj Singh. This article focuses on the battle between the combination of Tait and Gul against the RoW openers, Sehwag and Gilchrist. One really does not know what to expect from Tait. He had the potential to become a great bowler, but inconsistency and injuries denied him. However, even at 31 years of age, Tait will be the fastest bowler at Lord’s on July 5, 2014.

At their peak, Gilchrist and Sehwag would have got the better of Tait on most occasions. Gilchrist is long retired and Sehwag is not in the Indian national team reckoning. While Sehwag is 35 years old, Gilchrist is 42. Their reflexes will be slower than what it used to be, and this could help Tait to get their wickets. But if the Australian speedster has an off day, then one can expect both Gilchrist and Sehwag to score plenty of runs early one.

MCC also have Lee, formerly the world’s second fastest bowler. But instead of speed, movement in the air and off the seam could undo the batting greats. Gul is a master at that. His brilliant bowling helped Pakistan to the ICC World T20 2009 title in England. These conditions will suit him well. If Tait and Lee can rough up Gilchrist and Sehwag, the slightly slower Gul can take advantage and get them out. Amongst the players playing in the match, Gul is probably the best exponent of the reverse swing. He could very well end up taking most of the wickets.

All four of these players cannot be at their best for the match — the law of averages is a cruel one — but even if either pair does click, the crowd and fans across the world will be in for a treat. Tait will aim at bowling fast, while Gilchrist and Sehwag will look to intimidate the bowlers. Here is where Gul will be looking to get the wickets. It promises to be a fascinating contest.

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)