16 nations have geared up to lock horns against each other in the ultimate showdown of World T20. The zing capturing the essence of this tournament emanates from the unprecedented fickleness of the T20 format. Consequently, all teams would be up on their heels to bully and dismantle their oppositions to become the reigning champions of the World T20.
The host soil is no alien to the international players since Indian Premier League has given a taste of India to almost every international player nominated in their respective national squads. The advantage of playing in India is the electric atmosphere of the country that triggers pure emotions and cricket fever among the diehard sub-continental fans.
Although it is the first time India is hosting the World T20 since its inception in 2007, the Indian Premier League has laid the foundations of cricket frenzy all across India.
Regardless, cricket runs deep in the veins of South Asians, and jam-packed stadiums will be a testimony to it. Thousands of international fans would be traveling to the sub-continental country to support and cheer for their national sides.
In the five previous World T20 tournaments, no team has lifted the trophy more than once. Likewise, none of the hosts have ever had the honor of winning the tournament so far. The mighty Sri Lankans came close to grabbing the trophy on their home turf eventually to surrender the Cup to West Indies in the final.
Unfortunately, the Lankan Tigers have succumbed to the conditions in further two finals, while bagging only a single World T20 trophy which arrived in 2014 at Dhaka, making them the defending champions at the moment.
Statistically, Pakistan and India have the second best record after Sri Lanka, both having featured in two finals and winning one each. India is undoubtedly the stronger of the two. Although the unpredictability that surrounds the Pakistani camp is unfathomable, it is their most lethal weapon, especially in this format of the game which thrives on chances.
Most of the pitches will eventually be shrugged off as dead to favor the batting side while fans should be ready to witness some lofty sixes. Indian tracks are unfavorable for typical fast bowling parties. However, as the tournament progresses, a lot of cracks will open up on the pitch in dryer conditions to pave the way for spinners, and do some magic with huge turns.
Summer is approaching the South Asian country, and the dew factor will come into play on some grounds. Mohali and Bangalore, though, boast some bounce to support the fast bowlers. Overall, any side with a good spin bowling attack and power hitters in the bag can make it look easy under these conditions.
It is only the second time that 16 teams will compete in a World Twenty20 tournament, 10 of which are the test playing nations.
The tournament will kick off on March 3rd where eight teams divided into groups of four will hustle and tussle, giving one team from each group a chance to advance to the Super 10 round.
Group A comprises Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherland and Oman while Group B constitutes Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Scotland, and Zimbabwe. Every team plays one match against every other opposition in the same Group.
After the first round comes to a halt with two teams progressing from it, the Super 10 round shall commence. England, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, and the Group B winner will compete in Group 1. Likewise, the Group A winner will be added to the Group 2 of Super 10 alongside Australia, England, Pakistan, and India.
Following the group stages, the two top teams on points table from each will go through to the semis the winners of which will advance to the ultimate showdown in Kolkata.
Let’s take a look at the weaknesses and strengths for each squad selected for the World T20.
The Kangaroos have an explosive batting line-up that has performed consistently since last few years. David Warner, in particular, can tear apart any bowling line-up without many hiccups. His opening partner, Aaron Finch, is another prospect who has culminated the reputation of a hard hitter. The middle order backbone, Glenn Maxwell, provides stability in between the innings if the top order fails to execute the batting plan.
In the bowling department, Aussies are still scuffling over the injury to their star pacer Mitchell Starc. However, the Australians have found his replacement in Adam Zampa whose valiance in Big Bash was hard to ignore by the selectors.
All-round responsibilities will heavily rely upon Shane Watson, who hasn’t delineated any out of ordinary performances in the recently concluded PSL. Smith, on the contrary, is in blistering form with his bat while quite handy with his leg break.
Safest Bet: with an average of 41 and a century to his name in T20, nothing is stopping Aaron Finch from tearing apart any opposition. In last five T20s, Finch has powered his way to four fifties.
The Bengal Tigers have produced an overwhelming talent in the recent past but somehow failed to utilize their expertise on bigger platforms. The regular opening pair of Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal can provide consistent and explosive starts.
However, the scarce middle order has been their pivotal issue in recent years as there are no genuine middle order batsmen in Bangladesh who can provide stability if the top order collapses. All-rounder Shakib Al Hassan and keeper Mushfiqur Rahim have carried these responsibilities on their shoulders for a while now. Young prospect, Nasir Hossain’s inning building ability will be tested on this significant occasion.
Bangladesh has no shortage of tools in bowling category. The exciting 20-year-old, Mustafizur Rahman, who made headlines with his debut bowling performance, is a useful asset. Anyhow, Rahman is not a genuine wicket-taking option for the Tigers. Mashrafe Mortaza is the only genuine fast bowler who can hit the deck hard on any pitch and run away with crucial wickets in any game.
Safest Bet: Tamim Iqbal looks to be in the form of his life since his stint in PSL. Batting pitches in India will only help his cause to score more runs.
The English team raves all over for bolstering top notch explosive batsmen. Alex Hales, the opener, has garnered an immense reputation for hitting sixes all around the ground. Joe Root would wriggle around as the middle order batsman constituting the pivotal role in setting up a big score on the board. Eoin Morgan and wicket-keeper batsman Joss Butler, however, are the key players with proven T20 skills. Their match winning experiences will come in handy if England wants to win something here.
Consistently breaking up partnerships with their orthodox spin bowling, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are well known for their use of hard, rough patches on the pitch. It won’t come as a surprise if England goes for an all-spin attack since Rashid and Ali have the ability to freeze the flow of runs with the new ball.
The irking news of Steven Finn’s injury is haunting the English dugout. Liam Plunkett has taken his place as the frontline pacer alongside T20 specialist bowlers Chris Jordan and Reece Topley. The major contributor for England would eventually be all-rounder Ben Stokes, who can bat down the order as well as provide breakthroughs with his medium pace bowling.
Safest Bet: Alex Hales is the kind of T20 specialist batsman any team would want to prize on. His consistency in the T20 format makes him an obvious choice here, and it would be improbable to see Hales not on the scoresheet now and then.
India is the toughest team to beat on their home turf. For so long, the cricket pundits have complained how Indian bowling does not compliment their world class batting. Dhoni, however, would find it hard to agree with that notion, having lifted every major trophy under his rule.
Indian batting lineup is a nightmare for any bowler in the world. Indian batting lineup follows up with a specialist after specialist in the pecking order, starting with the opening pair down to the 8th batsman.
With Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma usually providing the start, Indian batting order is home to the brick wall Virat Kohli, T20 specialist Yuvraj Singh, and fighter Suresh Raina.
Ashwin and Jadeja have proven spinning prowess in India and IPL is a testimony to their skills. The veteran seamer Ashish Nehra will lead the bowling pack, alongside Bumrah and Pandya.
Safest Bet: Virat Kohli stands out in the lot. After his match-winning efforts against Pakistan in Asia Cup, the top order batsman has proved it against that he is there not only to score runs but to clutch the game away from the fists of any threatening opposition.
New Zealand has challenged in ICC events with zeal and vigor. Kiwi star, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, have been in a good form and look comfortable with hitting big shots. Veteran Ross Taylor can unleash hell on the opposition, and if he gets going as in IPL, subcontinent will rain sixes and fours.
The Kiwis’ bowling attack consists of Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, and Adam Milne. All of them bowl at astounding pace. The depth of the squad by the presence of Nathan McCullum and Grant Elliot who can be very useful on dead pitches. Elliot, in particular, has a handful of tricks up his sleeves, and he produced some magic in PSL on somewhat similar tracks.
Safest Bet: With a century and nine fifties in the bag, Martin Guptill is a T20 specialist. Guptill has done it before in India, and there is no reason to suggest that his scoring pace would go down.
There is no doubt that Pakistan is home to some of the most talented cricketers ever. They can incarcerate any opposition with some of the most exciting cricket, and at times, are self-destructive in quirky ways. With Afridi captaining, anything is on the cards, and it won’t be surprising if the Afridi XI runs away with the show.
Opener Muhammad Hafeez and immensely talented Umar Akmal look exquisite once they get going. Both batsmen are stroke makers with a knack for hitting lofty sixes down the ground. As we move along, the experience of Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi comes into play down the order. Both Malik and Afridi, can bat and bowl at the same time and can be quite deceptive since both are very smart players.
Pakistan is the side to look out for in the bowling category. Muhammad Aamir has bowled extremely well in the since coming back from match fixing allegations. Wahab Riaz is another prospect who has to ability to intimidate any batting side with his short-pitched deliveries. However, the newcomer, Muhammad Nawaz has performed exceptionally well in the domestic season and has been given his first break in the recent Asian Cup. The left-arm spinner will be very dangerous on turning tracks.
Safest Bet: Umar Akmal has not tasted the Indian soil, yet his master strokes and ability to adjust anywhere quickly makes him one of the most destructive T20 batsmen. On flat tracks, Akmal can shower tons of sixes down the ground with ease.
South Africa stand a good chance in World T20, being a perfectly balanced and complete team on paper.
With the likes of De Kock and Hashim Amla, Proteas reinforce a technical batting line up which is capable of adjusting to all formats of the game. AB De Villiers is a master class who can change the course of the game at any point in the game and does it so often. Du Plessis and David Miller are there to take the game until the end with their hard hitting.
There is no better bowling combination than that of the Proteas this year in World T20. Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbot are capable of delivering all sorts of mastery on the pitch with a ball in their hand. Imran Tahir can provide support from the other end of the pitch by bowling to tailenders in the death overs.
Safest Bet: Nothing compares to the standards of AB de Villiers when it comes to match-winning prowess. His ability to play different shots and carve out enormous amounts of runs against any opponent make him the most terminal batsman at the moment.
The Carribean side is one of the most dangerous teams in the lot. They have done it before with more or less the same squad.
The first on the list is undoubtedly the tall Jamaican, Chris Gayle, who has stunned the world with his T20 centuries in the past. The big guy is a master of his art.
The West Indian line-up looks lethal with the likes Dwayne Bravo and the power hitter Marlon Samuels, who can turn the match around at any given time.
Spinner Sunil Narine’s absence will hurt the side. However, the Jamaican side boasts some quality spinners with Badree and Suleiman Benn, both of whom can take quick wickets in T20 format.
To be honest, West Indies rely on their all-rounders more than anything. Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, and Darren Sammy have the ability to hit any bowler in the world down the ground and over the head at any stadium in the world. All three of them can deliver something with the ball too and are quite handy. Sammy’s recent performance in PSL was very impressive.
Bowling assets seem to possess the venom to trouble any other side. With Jason Holder and the skilled Jerome Taylor, Windies would look to give their side the early breakthroughs.
Safest Bet: IPL? Chris Gayle? Rings a bell, doesn’t it? Yes — the Gayle storm will unleash yet again in India, only that this time it would be in the World T20, rather than IPL.
As stated above, Lankan Tigers have the best record in World T20. But the record itself will not help their cause much since the departure of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumara Sangakkara leaves a deep cavity in the fragile middle order.
There are, however, batsmen like Dilshan and Angelo Matthews, who know how to build an innings. Both batsmen can be pitiless when in form. In the recent Asia Cup, Sri Lankan batting has failed to put together any exceptional performances.
In the bowling department, Lasith Malinga is the only solid prospect who can take the game away from the opposition with his deadly yorkers and outswingers at any point in the match. Malinga is no less than a one-man army when it comes to the big stage. Rangana Herath and Matthews will compliment Malinga in the bowling department with the spin and medium pace, respectively.
Safest Bet: On pitches like those of Kolkata and Nagpur, no one expects a bowler to do miracles. But Malinga has done it more often than not on one of the flattest pitches in the world. He is Sri Lanka’s only hope to salvage something in the tournament.
A few other teams are there but without much experience and enough skilled players, there isn’t much they can do to advance to the knockouts. Yes – there is always a chance of an upset every once in a while, but it is a near impossibility for teams like Afghanistan, Oman, UAE, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Netherland, and Ireland to fancy a shot at the World T20 title. Plus, only two of these team will qualify for the Super 10.
However, there is no shortage of talent. Some of the players, for example, William Porterfield and Kevin O’Brien from Ireland and Muhammad Nabi from Afghanistan. But there is no depth in the squad to drive them all the way to glory this time. We would advice you to stay away from betting on any of these teams at this years World Cup.