New Delhi:If there is a fast bowler who is quickly developing into a match-winner by learning and improving with each game, it is Stuart Broad of England.
Many bowlers would have found it difficult to regain confidence after being hammered for six sixes in an over, but Broad came back strongly.
He was young in international cricket when he was smashed for 36 off six balls by India's Yuvraj Singh in a Twenty20 World Cup match in South Africa two years ago.
Broad has now become his team's key bowler ahead of the Champions Trophy in South Africa, thanks to his mental toughness.
He is expected to share responsibilities with James Anderson in the absence of senior pacemen Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison.
Broad's confidence is high, especially after producing one of his best spells in the Ashes when he grabbed five first-innings wickets at the Oval to set up his team's series-clinching victory.
His role is not confined to bowling, for he is also a gritty batsman capable of chipping in vital runs down the order.
Broad has it in him to make his presence felt despite the presence of talented rivals like Mitchell Johnson of Australia, South Africa's Dale Steyn, Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan and New Zealand's Daniel Vettori.
Left-arm paceman Johnson returns to the scene of his amazing exploits which saw his team clinch a Test series in South Africa this year. He grabbed 16 wickets in three Tests.
Johnson, as effective with the new ball as with the old because of his ability to reverse swing, forms a deadly combination with Brett Lee who is hungry for success after missing the Ashes.
He was in form in recent one-day internationals in England, ensuring his team's series victory.
Steyn arrived in international cricket at the right time for South Africa, who had been looking for a genuine fast bowler.
He has the pace and shrewd variations to unsettle the best batsmen in the world. He played a major role in his team's pair of one-day series wins against Australia at home and away.
Steyn could prove too hot to handle for the rival batsmen in home conditions in the company of Makhaya Ntini and Albie Morkel.
But it cannot be all about pace on South African pitches in the presence of Muralitharan and Vettori who have already proved there is always room for quality spinners in limited-overs cricket.
Off-spinner Muralitharan, the world's leading wicket-taker in Tests and one-day internationals, has been Sri Lanka's match-winner for more than a decade.
The Sri Lankan not only turns the ball hugely on any surface, but also has a deceptive 'doosra', a delivery that turns away from the right-handers instead of coming into them like a conventional off-break.
Sri Lanka will be the team to beat if Muralitharan gets support from unrothodox spinner Ajantha Mendis and pacemen Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Thushara and Chaminda Vaas.
Like Muralitharan, left-arm spinner Vettori can also dry up runs and take wickets at crucial stages.
Skipper Vettori, with 244 one-day wickets, is an intelligent bowler who can adjust to all conditions. He is always a difficult bowler to get away because of his tidy line and length.
He was the most impressive bowler during his team's recent Test and one-day tour of Sri Lanka. His best came in the second and final Test in Colombo where he bagged five wickets and made a century.
Legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar was all praise for Vettori.
"Vettori has to be the most improved lower-order batsman in the world and also much under-rated. He puts a high price on his wicket," said Gavaskar.
With Vettori in form, the return of fast bowler Shane Bond to one-day cricket will make New Zealand's attack more effective.