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T20 World Cup

Kicking off cricketmania

The ICC T20 World Cup starting today will kick off the season that cricket lovers have been waiting for

Agnideb Bandyopadhyay | Published 16.10.22, 02:18 AM
(Clockwise from top left) India’s Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav; Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi and Mohammed Rizwan; England’s Liam Livingstone and Jos Buttler; and Australia’s Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis

(Clockwise from top left) India’s Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav; Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi and Mohammed Rizwan; England’s Liam Livingstone and Jos Buttler; and Australia’s Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis

The World Cup Season kicks off today with the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, in Australia. With 12 teams, the tournament will see the teams with shuffled squads and new tactics in place. The packed cricketing calendar, which has been subject to heavy discussions over the past couple of years, will see the ODI World Cup being held in India, next year. As the selectors try to balance the distribution of arsenal across the formats, the teams sweat it out on the Australian greens, the current goal in sight, gearing up to lift the trophy. Eight teams from the 2021 World Cup qualified directly, while the ninth to 12th ranked teams — Sri Lanka, West Indies, Scotland and Namibia — will square of against the teams which advanced from the global qualifiers — Ireland, UAE, Zimbabwe and Netherlands — to have the final four qualify to the Super 12, two joining each group. While Asia Cup winners Sri Lanka bank on a solid team balance and a continuation of the form to see them through, previous champions West Indies have to employ everything in a collected way to ease into the Super 12. The other two spots will see some pulsating contests, with Namibia and Ireland looking to have an upper hand over the others. With the tournament to kick-start a dearly awaited season, The Telegraph Ok Sunday scans through the teams to get you a lowdown of the camps, before the qualifiers start tonight.

INDIA

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Pinching ourselves enough, India walk into the tournament as a team with scanty chances of reaching the final. The last year has shone light on the many gaps in the system with numerous combinations being used for the chain of series. India’s performance in the Asia Cup was a clear indication of the issues that Rahul Dravid has failed to address. With a top order banking on the rare displays of firepower from skipper Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul and Virat Kohli, the side walks in with an immense vacuum in the bowling line-up following Jasprit Bumrah’s injury. With Mohammed Shami to replace him on the squad, India have two strong options in backups, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj. A pace attack with a left-right arm combination between Arshdeep and Shami will be an interesting dynamic to look out for on Australia’s fast pitches. However, the only bit holding the team together and painting the essential silver lining at the moment is the middle order anchored by the magnificent duo of Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya. Things need to come together effectively before the team hits the pitch.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR: Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya

PAKISTAN

Out to avenge the heartbreaking loss in the hands of the hosts at last year’s World Cup final, Pakistan have a strong team in place with pieces fitting almost perfectly to get them closer to the much-coveted crown. With impressive performances in the Asia Cup and the series against England which followed, the buoyant Pakistani side will look to rely heavily on one of the freshest pace bowling line-ups spearheaded by the dynamic and spirited duo of Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah, besides the ever-dependable opening batting pair of Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan. With powerful pinch-hitters and tactful bowling options peppered across the squad,  Pakistan will certainly be the team to look out for, especially with the Australian pitch conditions favouring their strongest arsenal of pace options. And all of that, if they manage to remain fit through the course of the tournament.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR: Mohammed Rizwan, Shaheen Afridi

AUSTRALIA

For the defending champions, things look a bit scattered all over the place. Led by Aaron Finch, the team looks incredibly strong on paper, but the combinations can misfire under crunch situations. Australia looked a bit wobbly in their recent matches against England. Players like Glenn Maxwell and Mitch Marsh need to effectively deliver on a consistent note, with big-hitters Tim David, and men in form Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis looking to balance it out with the perfect anchorage and power striking. The advantage that the home team will look to milk the most out of, is the fast bouncy pitches that been home to Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood and have them play the crucial cards during the power play and death overs.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR: Matthew Wade, Marcus Stoinis

(L-R) South Africa’s David Miller and Kagiso Rabada; New Zealand’s Devon Conway and Trent Boult

(L-R) South Africa’s David Miller and Kagiso Rabada; New Zealand’s Devon Conway and Trent Boult

ENGLAND

Fresh off an emphatic series win against Australia, England walk into the tournament with the hope of having a smooth journey to the final stages of the tournament. With hitters like Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone in fine fettle, the perennial pressure on skipper Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes should not weigh them down. Buttler and Stokes have nothing left to show to the world when it comes to form and flow, but English fans back home certainly have their hopes pinned on the duo. With the absence of Jonny Bairstow, England have a void to fill in the top order, but with someone like Alex Hales perched up the order, England can aim for big totals if the form continues. Moeen Ali continues to be an integral part of the squad, contributing consistently with the bat and the ball. While spinner Adil Rashid continues to be the tricky bit for the opponents, England’s pace line-up will have to make the most of the pitches with their speed and swing.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR: Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone

SOUTH AFRICA

Results aside, what the recent performance in India proved was how well the South African side can turn the tide in their favour at any given instance. Led by the experienced Temba Bavuma, South Africa have little to worry about when their batting line-up works and slogs the ball all over the park without hesitating. With David Miller and Quinton De Kock proving to be the most important assets to the South African side, players like Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram and Rilee Rossouw can add to the blast in the absence of the dependable Dwaine Pretorius, if they find the groove. Despite having a strong bowling lineup, usual favourites like Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje have failed to impress lately, but will be a deadly duo to face on the pace-favouring pitches.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR: David Miller, Kagiso Rabada

New Zealand

The Kiwis look dominant heading into the tournament. For Kane Williamson and Co, it is about time they break their ICC silverware jinx. A solid batting arsenal consisting of the seasoned and explosive Martin Guptill, Williamson and the impressive Devon Conway will prove to be essential propellers for the team, while all-rounders Glen Phillips, Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner look to contribute with both the ball and the bat. The pace attack has always played an important role in the Kiwis' performance and with Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne and the grand old Tim Southee working the swing and the bounce, things do not look too complex for the Black Caps.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR:  Devon Conway, Trent Boult

(L-R) Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan and Afif Hossain; and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Hazratullah Zazai

(L-R) Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan and Afif Hossain; and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Hazratullah Zazai

BANGLADESH

Coming in with a revamped squad, the Bangladeshi team, following a poor performance in the recent tri-series, will be led by veteran Shakib Al Hasan following the exclusion of former captain Mahmudullah and the retirement of Mushfiqur Rahim. Bangladesh will bank on the top order with the inclusion of the experienced Liton Das and their pace attack led by Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed. Afif Hossain has proved to be a strong and dependable middle-order anchor. If Shakib can tactfully use their strengths, the team can pose some problems to the favourites.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR: Shakib Al Hasan, Afif Hossain

AFGHANISTAN

The Asia Cup proved why Afghanistan are going to be the underdogs to look out for. After an impressive run leading up to the final matches of the the Asia Cup, Afghanistan lost to Pakistan  in a match that kept everybody on the edge of their seats and held the tension right up to the very last over. Led by veteran Mohammed Nabi and coached by Jonathan Trott who is no stranger to Australian conditions , the side has proved to be very well-bonded time and again. Despite some gaps, Afghanistan can certainly have some great displays in store. With important additions like that of Darwish Rassooli and fast bowler Salim Safi, Afghanistan walk into the tournament as a team nobody can easily write off. And despite playing on pitches that favour pace, if Rashid Khan decides to run riot, there’s hardly anything that batters can do.

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR: Rashid Khan, Hazratullah Zazai

Pictures: PTI, Reuters and Getty Images

Last updated on 16.10.22, 12:29 PM
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