|The West Indies players break into a jig to celebrate their 2012 World T20 victory, in Colombo
England are not in ideal shape at the moment; neither physically, nor mentally. They have been battling injury issues and poor form. They still look dazed from the humiliation they suffered at the hands of arch-rivals Australia. They haven’t been very impressive in their tour of the West Indies either. Things have been complicated further with injuries. Joe Root has already been ruled out of the World T20 and now T20 captain Stuart Broad (in pic) is laid low with tendinitis. Broad, though, is keeping his fingers crossed, hoping that cortisone injections will make him fit enough to lead the side. England have traditionally depended on team game, rather than individual brilliance, for success. They will once again hope that they click in unison.
Best result: Champions 2010
The perennial dark horse of cricket, New Zealand, once again, are the team with immense potential. The question, like always, is the same: Will they finally deliver or will their wait to win a World Cup be prolonged? The young side, captained by the experienced Brendon McCullum (in pic) have been very impressive of late. They have an energetic presence on the field and that can prove to be the difference in this format. The way they won the key moments against a strong Indian side recently proved they have the required steel in their game. While Brendon is a precious player for any team in this format, all eyes will be on one Corey Anderson. The 23-year-old all-rounder is known more for his destructive batting and if he gets going, then it’s bad news for the rest.
Best result: Semi-finals 2007
Captained by the 29-year-old Faf du Plessis (in pic), the South African team, interestingly, bank on experience more than youth, which is pretty contradictory to the reputation that the shortest format of the game has. Eleven players in the 15-member squad are above the age of 28. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir, aged 34, is the oldest player in the squad. It’s not that the Proteas do not have youngsters in their squad, the likes of Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Beuran Hendricks are fresh and young. But, both in batting and bowling, South Africa will depend on tried and tested campaigners like Hashim Amla, Du Plessis, AB de Villers, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe. It’s a strong team, packed with individual talents and they can go the distance this time around.
Best result: Semi-finals 2009
Sri Lanka have perhaps been the most consistent side in the recent years. However, it's also a fact that they choked when it mattered most. That is why despite reaching two ODI World Cup finals (2007 & 20011) and two World T20 finals (2009 & 2012) in the last seven years, they haven’t managed to be the champions. This time again, they will be counted among the favourites. Not just because they will be playing in familiar conditions, but also because they are in roaring form; their flawless performance in the Asia Cup providing enough evidence. Kumar Sangakkara is in great touch and much will also be expected from Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekaratne Dilshan. It will be interesting to see how young Dinesh Chandimal (in pic) leads the side.
Best results: Runners-up 2009 & 2012
Australia’s transformation since the Ashes have been phenomenal and the side seems determined to win the World T20 that has been missing from their closet. Even without Mitchell Johnson, they have it in them to go the distance. Don’t forget the winning momentum will be the biggest asset of George Bailey’s (in pic) men. Australia have rarely looked their natural dominant selves in the previous editions but they seem to be ready to do better this time. They have power-hitters at the top and in the middle order, and a balanced bowling attack. Shane Watson may be the most talked about star, but Aaron Finch, the No.1-ranked batsman in the shortest format, could prove to be the danger man. Finch and Warner will be the most feared opening pair in this tournament.
Best result: Runners-up 2010
Having struggled to achieve success in the longer and shorter formats of late, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s (in pic) men will feel the heat, going into the tournament. An early ouster could mean wide ranging repercussions before the 2015 ODI World Cup. For the record, the Dhoni-led side won the inaugural championship in 2007, but has failed in the next three editions. The return of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, along with Dhoni — who missed the Asia Cup because of an injury — is sure to bolster the team’s batting. The familiar conditions in Bangladesh could also play its part in ensuring a smooth going for them. Picking the right team combination will be of immense importance in the circumstances. India have a tough group and will have no time to relax.
Best result: Champions 2007
It’s always tough to rate Pakistan’s chances given their inconsistent showing in ICC tournaments. Pakistan have been the champions once and reached the finals twice, yet they aren’t remembered as an explosive unit. A lot will depend on Shahid Afridi’s fitness, and if he gets going it will be hard to stop Mohammed Hafeez’s (in pic) men. If Pakistan manage to beat India in their opener, the momentum might just see them through to the semis. The overall squad is pretty much the same except for the return of Shoaib Malik and Sohail Tanvir, who is expected to share the pace attack with Umar Gul and Junaid Khan. Add to it the guile of Saeed Ajmal, who is expected to be a handful in the subcontinent conditions. However, a lot will depend on their form on a particular day.
Best result: Champions 2009
The defending champions, many expect, will retain the title. Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy (in pic), Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Sunil Narine have the capabilities to alter the equations at any given time. Even without Kieron Pollard, they will be a force to reckon with. Gayle has maintained his form in the World T20s. He still remains the key at the top of the order and can single-handedly change the course of a game. The build-up has been enterprising. They clinched a brief series against England in Barbados, winning the first two matches before falling just 5 runs short in the last. If the West Indies don’t commit such mistakes, they are sure to be one of the favourites to reach the semis. From there on, it could be anyone’s game.
Best result: Champions 2012
the third umpire
Twenty questions that may find answers in World T20:
World at his feet — Mahendra Singh Dhoni has outshone all other Indian captains by leading the team to two World titles. His players aren’t playing their best cricket, but he has charisma to turn things around. Will he increase the gap further by winning a third? Will he become the only captain to win two World T20 titles?
Comeback king — Yuvraj Singh fought off cancer, can he defeat off form? The man who was a standout performer in India’s triumphant runs in the 2007 World T20 and 2011 ODI World Cup is striving hard to regain his form. He’s a champion and knows the recipe of success. Will Yuvi shine in World T20 and be the prince again?
Lost & found — Once a trusted soldier of the Dhoni brigade, Suresh Raina is now facing questions about his worth in the team. He has been dropped from the ODI team and that seems to have helped him as he did well in the practice matches. Will he be able to use the T20 platform successfully to find his way back into the one-dayers?
Doosra vs googly — Ravichandran Ashwin is trying hard to get his rhythm back. Amit Mishra is waiting eagerly for his turn. Dhoni still prefers Ashwin. But will his faith last? Will the World T20 see a change in Team India’s preference? Will the leggie’s googly finally topple the offie’s doosra?
Boom boom back — He is still the poster boy of Pakistan cricket. It’s time to find out if Shahid Afridi is the most precious player in their current T20 squad. Blessed with match-changing prowess, Afridi showed in the Asia Cup that he’s still deadly with the bat. But at 34, things will not be easy for him. Will we see the Afridi of old or the old Afridi?
Talent time — He is just 23, but Umar Akmal, it seems, has carried the ‘talented’ tag for eternity. But of late, he has shown the maturity that was previously missing from his game. Is it time that he proves to be a worthy successor of the Inzamam-ul Haqs?
Class apart — Kumar Sangakkara will be retiring from T20 Internationals after the World T20. At 36, Sangakkara is not growing younger, but he is curiously getting even better. Will his silken shots and ice-cool presence light up the arena, which celebrates brute force, for one last time?
Need for speed — Pace has always been Australia’s strength. So even on Bangladeshi pitches, rival batsmen surely were worried of the Mitchell Johnson factor. But with the in-form pacer ruled out of the meet with an injury, will the Australian pace attack retain the fear factor?
The Aussie aim — T20 is a format which the Aussies are yet to conquer. They have failed in four attempts. Something has been missing in Australia’s T20 efforts. Can captain George Bailey find that missing piece and solve the puzzle?
Old is gold — T20 is the youngest format of cricket and it certainly excites the youngsters more. But how do you define Brad Hogg’s presence in the Australian squad? At 43, Hogg looks to be ‘grandfather cricket’. Will his wisdom pay off?
English search — Graeme Swann had set a standard as an England spinner. His sudden retirement has created a void. Can James Tredwell, the off-spinner, or Stephen Parry, who bowls slow left-arm orthodox be the quality spinner that England are in search of?
On Broad shoulders — He has established himself as a leading fast bowler in international cricket. But he hasn’t done anything extraordinary as the England T20 captain. Can he do a Paul Collingwood and lead England to glory? But is he fit enough?
Gayle of good times — He retains his reputation of being one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket. But of late, he has been somewhat silent. Can he unleash those stadium-clearing hits this time? Can he ensure that the West Indies are ‘Gayle and hearty’?
Same Sammy — He has faced questions about his utility in the West Indian team a thousand times. Yet he overcame all odds to lead his team to glory in the last edition of World T20? Can Sammy do an encore?
Tweaking it like Narine — He is no longer a mystery, but he isn’t also an easy-to-pick bowler. Narine’s phenomenal success in the IPL makes him the spinner to watch out on similar tracks in Bangladesh. Can he give it a real spin, the Caribbean style?
Proteas puzzle — Like his predecessors, captain Faf du Plessis carries the big burden of trying to prove to the world that the Proteas are no chokers at big stages. He has a very capable team at his disposal. But will the recent setbacks against Australia weigh heavy? Or can Faf do what the likes of Hansie Cronje and Graeme Smith couldn’t?
AB mission — The king of improvisation. There’s no questioning the capabilities of AB de Villiers. But what good it is if it can’t help his team win a World Cup? So like Faf, he too will be on a mission. Will he accomplish his mission?
Fill in the blank — Like South Africa, New Zealand too have a habit of messing it up when it matters the most. Even the shrewd Stephen Fleming couldn’t change it. But they have been playing well of late. Can Brendon McCullum give the Black Caps what they have been yearning for years?
Corey charishma — A hundred off 36 balls. Well, that doesn’t happen everyday. But the way Corey Anderson bats, it appears that it may happen once again. Can Mr Anderson’s bat create magic twice? Can it be lesser than 36?
The next move — Last time, in Sri Lanka, we saw the Gangnam style as the victory dance. The Gayles and Sammys made the famous moves even more famous. Victory celebrations got a whole new dimension. Will we be treated to something new this time?
Compiled by Sportsdesk
T20 World Cup records (2007-2012)
2007: India bt Pakistan by 5 runs, in Jo’burg, September 24, 2007
2009: Pakistan bt Sri Lanka by
8 wkts, in London, June 21, 2009
2010: England bt Australia by
7 wkts, in Bridgetown, May 16, 2010
2012: West Indies bt Sri Lanka by 36 runs, in Colombo, October 7, 2012
Highest team total: 260/6 (20 ovs) Sri Lanka, vs Kenya in Johannesburg, September 14, 2007
Highest team total (batting 2nd and winning): 208/2 (17.4 ovs) South Africa, vs West Indies in
Johannesburg, September 11, 2007
Lowest team total: 68 (16.4 ovs)
Ireland, vs West Indies, in Providence, April 30, 2010
Highest match aggregate: 418/10 (40 ovs) India vs England, in Durban, September 19, 2007
Lowest match aggregate: 120/11 (23.2 ovs) Zimbabwe vs New Zealand, in Providence, May 4, 2010
By 172 runs — Sri Lanka bt Kenya in Jo’burg, September 14, 2007
By 10 wkts — Australia bt Sri Lanka, in Cape Town, September 20, 2007 & South Africa bt Zimbabwe, in Hambantota, September 20, 2012
With 74 balls to spare — New Zealand bt Kenya, in Durban, September 12, 2007
By 1 run — South Africa bt New Zealand, in London, June 9, 2009 & New Zealand bt Pakistan, in Bridgetown, May 8, 2010
By 2 wkts — New Zealand bt Sri Lanka, in Providence, April 30, 2010 & Pakistan bt South Africa, in Colombo, September 28, 2012
Off the last ball — Netherlands bt England, in London, June 5, 2009 & SL bt India, in Gros Islet, May 11, 2010
INDIVIDUAL BATTING RECORDS
Leading run-getter: 858 by Mahela Jayawardene (SL)
Most runs in a tournament: 317 — Tillekaratne Dilshan (SL), in 2009
Individual 100s: 4
123 — Brendon McCullum (NZ), vs Ban, in Pallekelle, September 21, 2012
117 — Chris Gayle (WI), vs SA, in Johannesburg, September 11, 2007
101 — Suresh Raina (Ind), vs SA, in Gros Islet, May 2, 2010
100 — Mahela Jayawardene (SL), vs Zim, in Providence, May 3, 2010
Most 50-plus scores: Chris Gayle (WI) — 7 (one 100 & six 50s)
Fastest individual 50: Yuvraj Singh (58) — off 12 balls by, Ind vs Eng, in Durban, September 19, 2007
Fastest individual 100: Chris Gayle (117) — off 50 balls, WI vs SA, in
Johannesburg, September 11, 2007
Fastest individual innings: 58 off 16 balls (S/r 362.50) — Yuvraj Singh, Ind vs Eng, in Durban, September 19, 2007
Best batting average by a batsman: 55.55 — Rohit Sharma (Ind)
Highest strike-rate by a batsman: 152.29 — Chris Gayle (WI)
Most ducks by a batsman: 5 — Shahid Afridi (Pak)
Most sixes by a batsman: 43 — Chris Gayle (WI)
Most fours by a batsman: 91 — Mahela Jayawardene (SL)
Individual bowling records
Leading wicket-taker: 33 by Lasith Malinga (SL)
Most wkts in a tournament: 15 by Ajantha Mendis (SL), in 2012
Best bowling: 6/8 (4 ovs) — Ajantha Mendis, SL vs Zim, in Hambantota, September 18, 2012
Most economical bowling in a match: 4-2-8-6 (R/ 2.00) —
Ajantha Mendis, SL vs Zim, in
Hambantota, September 18, 2012
Most economical bowler: 5.83 — Daniel Vettori (NZ)
Most runs conceded by a bowler in a match: 4-0-64-0
— Sanath Jayasuriya, SL vs Pak, in Johannesburg, September 17, 2007
Hat-tricks (1): Brett Lee, Aus vs Bangladesh, in Cape Town, September 16, 2007
Most dismissals by a wicket-keeper: 24 (8ct+16st) by Kamran Akmal (Pak)
Most catches by a fielder:
16 by AB deVilliers (SAf)
Other individual records
Most matches: 26 by
Kamran Akmal (Pak) &
Shahid Afridi (Pak)
Most matches as captain: 22 by MS Dhoni (Ind)