ICC T20 WORLD CUP: TEAM PREVIEW

With the ICC World T20 Championships just four days away, and the warm-ups already underway, it’s time to take a goodIPL-style look at the teams that will be competing for the second most prestigious trophy in the world.

12 teams. Four Groups. Super-8s, followed by semi-finals and the final. No eliminators or Timeouts. Pure action.

Afghanistan

While this is a massive step for any minnow participating in this exclusive tournament, this is easily the biggest stride in cricket as far as emergence of new nations goes. Not totally new to International Cricket, the Afghanistan cricket team has been consistently outshining other ‘minnows’, and finds itself in yet another World T20 tournament. Only recently, they played their first ever ODI game against a test-playing nation (Australia) and gave a decent account of themselves. Here, they are slotted in a group with India and England, both previous World Cup Winners, and will look to make the most outof this opportunity- especially because England have a tendency to fall to minnows in these stages.

Captain- Nawroz Mangal

X-factor: Mohammad Nabi (Explosive Middle Order bat and right arm offbreak)

Prediction: Group Stages

Australia

Currently ranked 10th in the T20 rankings table, below Ireland, the Australian T20 squad (entirely different from their test and ODI squads) is a B team in itself. The bench strength of Australian domestic cricket has been put together in a team with comeback kids, and now they will look to restore a high amount of lost pride after winning just 5 of their last 17 matches. With no Michael Clarke, Ponting or any of their first choice bowlers, the onus falls on the likes of Watson, the Husseys and Warner to drag the team forward and give a good account for themselves after reaching the Final in 2010.

Captain- George Bailey (not a regular in the ODI team)

X-factor: David Warner (Replicating half of his Daredevil IPL form will do the trick)

Prediction: Super 8s

Bangladesh

The team that has been scratching the surface for more than 13 years now, has yet another shot at glory after coming mighty close in the Asia Cup this year. They look to have their balance sorted finally, and with a whole bunch of left-arm spinning options again, they will be quite a threat on the turning pitches in Sri Lanka. An Asian team can never be counted out, least of all Bangladesh, despite their ordinary T20 record so far- which is a surprise, because their style of play (mostly mindless) suits this format the best. What could worry them is that they have been given the one-minnow-per-group status with the dangerous Pakistan and New Zealand (more deserving of the minnow tag) in Group D- clearly the most competitive group in the tournament.

Captain- Mushfiqur Rahim

 X-factor: Mahmudullah

Prediction: Super 8s

England

Defending T20 Champions, sans their best player. It’s been a heavy four months of soul searching for this team, that seems to be imploding as we speak. With the exclusion of KP, the retirement of Strauss and the disgruntled Andy Flower at the helm, they wouldn’t be fancying their chances in a tournament that could carve out their final descent. The little pocket dynamo Jonny Bairstow, who replaces KP, will be one to watch out for though. With no Bell, Cook, Trott, they will struggle to put up scores on the board, especially with spin-friendly teams like India and Pakistan lining up to face them.

Captain- Stuart Broad

X-factor: Eoin Morgan

Prediction: Super 8s

India

One of the favorites for the title, especially with Yuvraj Singh back in the ranks, and with the tournament in the subcontinent. Providing Dhoni doesn’t blow another one of his calculated chases, their batting strength is unmatched in this format, but it will be their bowling that could let them down. Khan, Pathan, Chawla, Ashwin, Balaji, Dinda and Harbhajan- this list may not inspire much confidence in their fans, but as Dhoni says, it will come down to the part timers like Raina, Yuvraj and Kohli to ensure progress.

Captain- Mahendra Singh Dhoni

X-factor: Virat Kohli

Prediction: Semi-Finals

Ireland

One of the greatest things to happen to the 2011 ODI World Cup, the Irish team is now on the map because of their legendary win over England in the Group Stages. Monster Kevin O’Brein played the innings of World Cup History, and now, everyone knows Ireland as a team that lies in that narrow space between minnows and professional teams. The team bears a very similar look to the one that won hearts in India, and most of them will be looking for acceptance after being continuously ignored in the IPL auctions. They will fancy their chances over lower-ranked Australia in their group, with both teams as inexperienced as eachother.

Captain- William Porterfield

X-Factor: Niall O’Brein (the more reliable brother, and batting mainstay)

Prediction: Group Stages

New Zealand

Fresh from their fourth consecutive T20 victory over India, this New Zealand team enter every ICC tournament as underdogs and invariably overperform, in stark contrast to the South Africans. With some good practice in these conditions under their belt, they will depend on their reliable (yet not too aggressive) bowling attack to cause a few upsets. With Pakistan and Bangladesh in their group though, it will be a climb from day one.

Captain- Ross Taylor

X-Factor: Brendon McCullum

Prediction: Group Stages

Pakistan

Outright favorites, as they should be, along with India, this Pakistani team has the best bowling attack of the tournament. With teams like England, South Africa and Australia allergic to spin, Pakistan will be the most feared team- as they always are, before they shoot themselves in the foot. A good blend of youth and experience- with a spin trio that can win matches on their own, it will all come down to how well their iffy batting strength survives in these conditions. Led by the man for all seasons Hafeez, they will be disappointed if they do not reach the final.

Captain- Mohammad Hafeez

X-factor: Sohail Tanvir

Prediction: Finals

South Africa

In any other country, South Africa would have started as favorites, a tag that they’re used to, but never want. This time, in Sri Lanka, they could struggle a bit with the conditions, but their ‘dark horses’ tag could suit them well because they never live upto expectations in ICC tournaments. Newly ranked Kings of the World in Test Cricket, they possess the best batsman and best bowler in the world, and there’s no reason why they can’t go far in 2012. AB De Villiers will need to marshal his resources a bit better though, and promote himself up a strong batting order if they are to gain anything out of his multitasking ability.

Captain- AB De Villiers

X-Factor: Hashim Amla

Prediction: Semifinals

Sri Lanka

The Home Team will rue their luck, because they enter this tournament as one of the weakest Asian teams- on form and otherwise. Their recent dip in performance has coincided with their best chance to win some silverware, and good old MahelaJayawardene will try to put all his IPL experience into play to ensure that they are not disgraced in their own backyard. Their bowling, with Malinga, will remain a concern for other teams, but most of the world has been exposed to him enough by now to know how to target the rest instead.

Captain- Mahela Jayawardene

X-Factor: Thisara Perera

Prediction: Super 8s

West Indies

For many, this team has won the tournament on paper already. But everyone is aware of how enigmatic their limited overs team can be, starting from the decisions taken by their captain Sammy. But with players like Bravo, Pollard, Russell, Sammy, Gayle, Narine and Smith, you’d have to be fools of the highest order to not be able to reach the finals on strength of only the intimidation factor. Explosive by any standards, conditions will go out the window once these giants wind up and dance to their own music.

Captain- Darren Sammy

X-Factor: Everybody

Prediction: Winners

Zimbabwe

A journeyman team that has weakened over the years, this Zimbabwean team will try their best to not be the worst team in this edition. With names that are difficult to recognize, but a lot of familiar thorns in Indian hearts, Zimbabwe find themselves in a group with eternal tormentors and minnow-killers Sri Lanka and South Africa. They will be lucky not to fall on the wrong side of a few unwanted losing records here, and will hope for a miracle to come out unscathed from another ICC tournament.

Captain- Brendan Taylor

X-Factor: Brendan Taylor

Prediction: Group Stages

There we have it- 12 teams, One winner, and plenty of broken hearts. Bring it on. 

  • Paul Smith Glasses

    You can definitely see your skills within the work you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  • ashish tamboli

    anything can happen in t20,

    england is more deserve team for t20 champship