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T20 Cricket World Cup – Tournament Preview

The T20 World Cup returns after a five-year absence and a 12-month COVID-19-enforced delay. As cricket fans and punters eagerly await the commencement of the Super 12 section of the tournament on Saturday, WILL EVANS runs the rule over the big guns and dark horse chances.

The competing nations in the UAE – the top eight teams in the ICC rankings and four qualifiers – are split into two Super 12 groups. After a round-robin within the groups (October 23-November 8), the top two sides from each group progress to the semi-finals.

Australia are paired with England, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Group 1. That leaves India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Scotland and Ireland or Namibia to battle it out in Group 2.

India and England vie for favouritism

England are the top-ranked team in Twenty20 International cricket, followed by India. The order is reversed in the T20 World Cup futures market – but India ($3.00) and England ($4.50) shape as the teams to beat.

The inaugural champs in 2007, India were runners-up in 2014 and semi-finalists in 2016. Their campaign will be built around brilliant captain Virat Kohli and the explosive match-winning ability of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, among others. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami headline the bowling attack, while spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin – returning to limited-overs cricket for the first time since 2017 – give India an ominous all-round look.

India cemented their favourites tag with warm-up wins over England (6 wickets) and Australia (8 wickets).

England won the tournament in 2010 and finished runners-up in 2016. They’ll be without ODI World Cup hero Ben Stokes, but it’s still a squad dripping with game-breaking talent: captain Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and top-ranked T20I batsman Dawid Malan can tear apart any attack on their own. Liam Livingstone, Tom Curran, David Willey and Chris Woakes are world-class all-rounders, while Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali will aim to cash in on spin-friendly conditions in the UAE.

Aussies aim for T20 breakthrough

T20 is the only international format Australia is yet to dominate. Their best World Cup performance was a runner-up finish in 2010, while they failed to make the semis in 2014 and 2016.

Australia, on the fourth line of betting at $7.50, are ranked a lowly seventh after an under-strength squad’s recent away series losses to West Indies and Bangladesh. But the cavalry returns courtesy of Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson. Skipper Aaron Finch is also on the comeback trail from a knee injury.

Mitchell Starc and Mitch Marsh were the Aussies’ best against the Windies and Bangladesh, and the calibre of their line-up guarantees they will be one of the most heavily scrutinised teams at the tournament.

Experience, depth and a plethora of match-winners hold Australia in good stead. Finch ($3.50), Warner ($3.50) and Smith ($5.00) are the top contenders to be Australia’s Top Tournament Runscorer, but Maxwell and Marsh shape as the keys to this side’s success.

Australia get Super 12 underway against South Africa on Saturday night (AEDT).

Black Caps chase more silverware

Consistently punching above their weight in all formats, New Zealand have developed into tournament specialists of sorts. On the back of consecutive ODI World Cup final appearances in 2015 and 2019, the Black Caps took out the inaugural World Test Championship with a triumph over India at Lord’s earlier this season.

The 2016 T20 World Cup semi-finalists are third favourites at $7.00.

Depth is not exactly a strong point compared to the squads England, India and Australia have at their disposal. But the volume of cricket Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Mitch Santner have played together have played together is a huge advantage.

Meanwhile, Devon Conway and Kyle Jamieson are two of the most exciting players to emerge in world cricket recently, and the like of Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Lockie Ferguson and Daryl Mitchell are potential match-winners.

Warm-up losses to England and Australia provided some positives, with Williamson and Guptill in good touch.

Dark horses abound

The gap between the best teams and the chasing pack is considerably less pronounced in T20 cricket than the other formats.

West Indies (2016) and Pakistan (2010) have both put their names on the trophy previously and loom as genuine dangers in the UAE.

The defending champion Windies ($7.50) are led by Kieron Pollard and boast the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Fletcher, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell. Third-ranked Pakistan ($8.00) have two of the top 10-ranked T20I batsmen in the world in their ranks: Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, as well as crucial familiarity with the conditions.

South Africa ($13) are attracting scant attention, but the Temba Bavuma-led line-up can’t be taken lightly. Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram and Kagiso Rabada forming an impressive nucleus for the Proteas.

It’s a long way back to the next block of contenders, but Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (both $51) are capable of a boilover or two despite having to force their way into the Super 12 through qualifying.

T20 World Cup Winner

India – $3.00England – $4.50
New Zealand – $7.00Australia – $7.50
West Indies – $7.50Pakistan – $8.00
South Africa – $13Sri Lanka – $51
Bangladesh – $51Afghanistan – $67
Ireland – $376Scotland – $501




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