It is incredible to think that the last T20 World Cup was five and a half years ago. That final between West Indies and England will be remembered for one man in particular. West Indian Carlos Braithwaite who hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes in the final over of the tournament to wrestle the trophy away from England.
On Sunday the tournament commences in the Middle East when UAE and Oman are the venues for the next month. Sixteen teams will be taking part with the competition split into two phases.
Twenty sides all out for lifting the World Cup
Round one will consist of two groups of four with the top two progressing to the Super 12s. The Super 12s stage of the tournament will feature two groups of six with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals.
Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia
Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Oman
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, Winner Group A and Runner up Group B.
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Runner up Group A and Winner Group B.
The event promises to provide plenty of exciting cricket, despite concern of slow worn pitches in the UAE. The conclusion of the IPL have been played on these pitches in the past month.
Conditions not likely to favour the holders
These type of surfaces won’t be welcomed by the defending champions West Indies. The side who thrive on big hitters who excel on fast pitches may struggle. However if the likes of Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell and Keiron Pollard get in full flow, they could still be a difficult side to beat. And I haven’t even mentioned a certain Chris Gayle. If Gayle can roll back the years, then be prepared for fireworks.
The bowling attack would be a worry for the Windies. Veteran Ravi Rampaul has been recalled to the side after a successful CPL campaign. Spinner Sunil Narine has again been left out of the side and replaced with leg spinner Hayden Walsh.
New Zealand look a class act
On paper, New Zealand look to have a side that ticks all the boxes in all departments. The bowling attack has strong seam and spin options with plenty of experience on show.
Trent Boult who took 25 wickets in the IPL games in the UAE will be key for the Black Caps. Tin Southee and Lockie Ferguson’s pace will be pivotal. With the spin duo of Mitchell Santner and Ish Soidhi also available and quality batting from Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Jimmy Neesham on show, expect New Zealand to go far.
India go into the tournament as one of the favourites to win the tournament. In terms of players in form, Indian players have struggled of late in the IPL. India will certainly be banking on the runs of KL Rahul and Virat Kohli to give them a total to bowl at. What will certainly favour India will be the pitches they will be playing on, which will be a big advantage for them.
No Archer or Stokes a big loss for England
England go into the tournament with the loss of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes. Two players who will be sorely missed and both are considered match winners in their own rights.
England’s captain Eoin Morgan’s form will be a big concern ahead of the competition . The current World Cupholders do have strength in depth and have lost only one T20 series since the summer of 2018. That series loss was in India by 3-2.
The conditions in the Middle East won’t help England, but when it comes to white ball cricket, you can never write them off.
Pakistan are a side that look good on paper but inconsistency always lets them down. A player that has impressed in the IPL has been Mohammad Hafeez’s spin. On the pace front, Pakistan will bank on Hasan Ali, who has an outstanding strike rate.
The opening partnership of Mohammad Rizwan and Baba Azam must be feared. However, the middle order looks very weak and lacking any main finishers.
Australia enter the T20 World Cup having lost all five T20 series they’ve played since March. The batting again is a concern with the Aussies looking to the experienced heads of Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith to flourish.
South Africa are the side that never seem to deliver on the big stage. They have a world class opener in Quinton de Kock along with the prolific Aiden Markham. However, to leave Faf du Plessis out of the side, seems a strange decision. The bowling attack seems the weakest it has ever been for a while with no Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir on show.
Paceman Kagiso Rabada now leads the attack, but with conditions that won’t favour his frightening pace.