Defending Champions: Sri Lanka
Maximum Finals: Sri Lanka (3)
Past Champions: India, Pakistan, England, West Indies
Over the last two years, India has played the minimum number of T20 international games – 14 – which has resulted in the team being a lowly No. 8 in the world rankings, just above Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Despite reaching the finals of the 2014 ICC World T20 and losing to Sri Lanka, Indian teams have never quite taken to the format. Their stellar 2014 performance was a freak incident, occurring seven years after their only decent T20 streak – where they won the first World Cup under a younger, sprightlier long-haired MS Dhoni.
The 2016 World T20 will be held on home soil – which will then extend into the domestic Indian league season – three months of unabashed, slam-bam T20 cricket that may have fans gasping for Test cricket by June.
Not many know this, but Virat Kohli is the No. 2 ranked batsman in T20 cricket. He blazed through the 2014 tournament with great consistency, and even helped his team enter the final as overwhelming favorites.
On 8th March, 2016, six qualifiers will battle it out for two remaining spots in the main draw. This will go on till 13th March, after which the group stages will begin – with a total of 10 competing teams divided into two groups.
First, the eight qualifying nations will be divided into two groups, after which the top team of each group will head into the group stages.
Group A: Bangladesh, Netherlands, Ireland, Oman
Group B: Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Scotland, Hong Kong
The favorites to go through are, of course, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but Ireland will run it close in Group A. This will result in only two ‘minnows’ (if one can still call Bangladesh that) competing with the top eight teams over three weeks.
The main groups are divided into:
Group 1: England, West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Qualifier 1B
Group 2: India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia, Qualifier 2B
The World Rankings, which are supposed to indicate form, are interesting as of now:
West Indies, one of the bottommost teams in the other formats, are ranked 1, just above Australia.
Between 1 to 7 (India is 8), the difference is a mere four points, which shows that the teams doing well in this tournament will directly jump to the top, irrespective of where they stand now. India is four points behind New Zealand (7), which means that there are just eight points between the top eight teams.
The most exciting teams to watch here will be West Indies and England. Both Sri Lanka and South Africa are struggling, while the youngsters in England make them perhaps the favorites to top their group. Alex Hales and Joss Buttler, as well as captain Eoin Morgan are batsmen to watch out for.
Other batsmen to watch out for: Chris Gayle, Ben Stokes, Faf du Plessis, Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Joe Root
Bowlers to watch out for: Imran Tahir, Samuel Badree, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Steve Finn
On form, New Zealand and Australia will be the teams to watch. New Zealand doesn’t traditionally perform in sub-continental conditions, but with players like Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson leading the batting, they’re going to be difficult to beat. Like New Zealand, even Australia are yet to win a T20 World Cup, which will make them the hungriest teams in the tournament. Aaron Finch is ranked the No. 1 batsman in T20 cricket, while players like Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey, Shane Watson and Steven Smith will only deepen an attack already experienced in Indian conditions. Many say this could be MS Dhoni’s last ICC tournament as captain, and if India doesn’t do well and fails to get past the group, this could well be the truth.
Other batsmen to watch out for: Rohit Sharma, Colin Munro, David Warner, Yuvraj Singh, James Faulkner, Suresh Raina, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Luke Ronchi
Other bowlers to watch out for: Adam Milne, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Ashish Nehra, Matt Henry, Umar Gul, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja