ICC T20 World Cup: Who are the favourites?
By Ryan Moran
- The lowdown on the teams to watch and their key players.
- England placed in group 1 at the super 10 stage of the competition.
- Scotland and Ireland face preliminary group stage to reach the super 10 stage.
Nagpur, India- 16 teams will be whittled down to just one over 27 days of big hitting, aggressive bowling and unbelievable catches from the heavyweights of world cricket.
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While the super 10 stage of the tournament doesn’t commence until 15th March, the top eight ranked sides, including England, will sit back and relax as the qualifying sides battle for a place in the next stage.
Ireland and Scotland appear at this stage, Ireland in group A and Scotland in Group B. Ireland will need to claim victory over Bangladesh, Netherlands and Oman to progress while Scotland will need to overcome Zimbabwe, Hong Kong and Afghanistan in Group B.
This is the first time Oman have reached the finals of the competition but who are the teams, and players, to watch in this year’s tournament?
England 5th in the world Bat- Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan
England, who start their World Cup campaign against the West Indies, come in to the tournament on the back of two defeats against South Africa. Trevor Bayliss’ side did beat Pakistan 3-0 in Abu Dhabi back in November and face New Zealand in a warm up fixture prior to the start of the super 10 stage.
The Three Lions’ batting contingent have served them well this winter in the shorter format and will hope for the same in South Africa. Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan feature in the top 10 of the ICC rankings with Jos Buttler, Joe Root and Ben Stokes all capable of providing the difference, as proven in the t20 blast.
Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali take their places in the squad as the spin options, Rashid’s selection aided by his Big Bash exploits at the end of last year. Sam Billings and James Vince also make the squad after making a large impact with the bat in Abu Dhabi.
Steven Finn, Reece Topley and David Willey are tried and tested seam bowlers on the international stage. Placed in a group with South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies England are far from favourites in a strong group. Jason Roy completes a strong batting line up capable of upsetting the odds on their day in front of a passionate Indian crowd.
South Africa are in a finely poised series against Australia, currently in the balance at 1-1. The return of Dale Steyn from injury compliments the raw pace of Kagiso Rabada, playing in his strongest format. Francois Du Plessis ranks in the top 10 batsmen while Imran Tahir and David Wiese occupy a place in the top 10 bowlers. Under the captaincy of Du Plessis and with AB De Villiers being no stranger to India’s pitches, because of the IPL, the Proteas won’t settle for a place in the knockout stages.
Sri Lanka are the current champions, having won the fifth edition of the tournament. The sling action of Lasith Malinga frightens the biggest and bulkiest of batsmen standing 22 yards away. Sachithra Senanayake, ranked in the top 10 bowlers, supports Malinga in the bowling department with Tillakaratne Dilshan heading up the batting line up.
West Indies come into the tournament as the second highest ranked side, boasting the world’s most renowned cricketer, alongside Kevin Pietersen. Chris Gayle packs a punch with a bat in his hand while pleasing any crowd coming to watch the spectacle of Gayle. With entertainment covered, Sunil Narine span his way to the top of the bowling charts.
Four teams will compete for the final place in group 1, with the Group B winner claiming the final place. Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Scotland and Zimbabwe will fight for that final place. Scotland won the qualifiers last year, alongside the Netherlands, but Afghanistan and Zimbabwe prove a tough test to make the Super 10.
Neither group has a clear winner but Group 2 will be a spectacle as Australia and New Zealand will pit their wits against each other for the second time in the space of a few months. Aaron Finch holds the record for the highest score in a T20 game, 156 against England. Steve Smith is no amateur with a bat in hand and will want to guide his side through a tough group. Kane Williamson has had a strong year, being thrust into the limelight with strong performances while Mitchell McClanaghan will want to improve his top 10 ranking and take wickets against their geographical rivals.
India, who host the World Cup, will want to be one of the two sides battling it out at Eden Gardens on 3rd April given their world ranking.
Virat Kohli heads up a strong batting line up while Ravichandran Ashwin provides the threat in their bowling attack.
Pakistan finished above current World Cup Winners Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup but suffered three consecutive defeats to England in November. Another series defeat to New Zealand hasn’t made for the best preparations along with the controversy surrounding their participation. Shahid Afridi captains the side and ranks in the ICC bowling top 10, one to watch over the political speculation.
Four teams will compete for the final place in group 2, with the Group A winner claiming the final place. Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands, Oman will fight for that final place. Netherlands won the qualifiers last year but Bangladesh and Ireland will also feel they can be the side to clinch the final spot. Having just lost to India in the Asia Cup, Bangladesh will want to upset the hosts, but to do that they need to be in the super 10.
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