The 7th edition of the ICC T20 World Cup began on October 17 and will run through November 14. The tournament, which was to be held in India in 2020, is now moved to the United Arab Emirates, which has four stadiums in which to host all the games. The UAE will provide the Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Sharjah Stadium and Oman Cricket Academy Ground to the T20 World Cup. The Sharjah Cricket Stadium has been functional since 1984, and was the scene of Sachin Tendulkar’s famous Desert Storm knock of 143 in a target of 277. The then 24 year old Master Blaster almost single-handedly won the game, which saw India lose by 26 runs. The second semi-final will be hosted by the Dubai International Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium with a capacity of 25,000 spectators. Opened in 2009, it will also host the grand finale of the World Cup, set to be played on the 14th of November.
Sixteen nations, representing regions around the globe, will compete for the prize. Eight countries have already qualified, based on their rankings from last March. The preliminary round will feature the bottom eight teams competing in two groups of four, from which the winning two will graduate to play in the Super 12 round, which will have two groups. The top two from each group in the Super 12 round will go on to play in the semifinals, followed by the grand final on November 14.
This T20 World Cup will be the first major ICC tournament to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The favorites for the tournament are India, West Indies and England. However, many players such as Australian captain Aaron Finch, Kiwi opener Martin Guptill and West Indies opener Lendl Simmons haven’t taken the field in awhile, and their form and fitness remains to be seen.
England is missing Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, two major players who proved instrumental to their 2019 World Cup win, which came in the 50 over format. Mark Wood hasn’t played since the team’s second test against India in August 2021, and Tymal Mills doesn’t have much international experience.
Afghanistan is also likely to be full of surprises, after their decent outing in the 2019 World Cup. Mohd Nabi has since been appointed captain, after Rashid Khan stepped down in September.
Expect fireworks and surprises this World Cup, due to pitches that aid spinners and have 160-170 as defendable totals. India, for example, has four spinners in its squad, comprising Jadeja, Ashwin, Chahar and Chakravarthy.
Cricket has seen major changes since the last T20 World Cup in 2016. Key players such as MS Dhoni, De Villiers have retired and the World Cup final hero in 2016, Carlos Brathwaite doesn’t even feature in the West Indies squad this time around. The Decision Review System(DRS) will be making its debut in the tournament, with each team getting a maximum of two reviews per innings. Into its 7th edition, this T20 World Cup promises to be exciting, with pitches aiding both batters and bowlers.
As the defending champions, the West Indies have won the title twice (2012 and 2016) and currently have a nearly full-strength squad. The Kieron Pollard-led side has a power-packed batting line-up, including Chris Gayle, Ewin Lewis and Pollard himself. The team has a good mix of youth and experience, including Ravi Rampaul, who was called back to the squad, having last played back in 2015. Nicholas Pooran, who had a lean IPL season, is vice-captain of the squad and will look to get back to form. The West Indies have also selected test player Roston Chase, who proved himself after an excellent season as top scorer in the Caribbean Premier League with 446 runs in 12 games.
The West Indies are in a tough group with Australia, South Africa and England. Can the Men in Maroon defend their title after their 2016 heroics? Can someone repeat a Braithwaite this time around?
Favored to win, India has a near-perfect squad. Led by Virat Kohli, who stepped down as T20 captain, the Indian batting line-up looks intimidating. The top six batters are K.L. Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya. According to the BCCI’s latest announcement, Shardul Thakur has also replaced Axar Patel. This means Shardul Thakur could replace Hardik Pandya as the batting all-rounder, due to Pandya not being able to bowl. The bowling department is covered with the likes of Bumrah, Kumar, and Shami.
After winning the first edition, will Kohli have what it takes to secure a second title for India? The Men in Blue are scheduled to take on archrivals Pakistan, in one of the biggest matches of the tournament, on October 24.
Eoin Morgan is set on leading England to a second T20 title, after their success in 2010. The squad is missing Archer and Stokes but has Chris Woakes and Liam Livingstone for backup. Livingstone recently smashed a 40-ball ton against Pakistan, while Chris Woakes pulled off an impressive performance against Sri Lanka in this past June, after last playing a T20 in 2015. England’s spin department gives them the upper hand, especially with Rashid’s and Ali’s reputation for turning on the slow pitches of the UAE.
Glenn Maxwell made his debut for RCB in 2021, and after underperforming in the IPL for years, he finally came good on the turning surfaces of the UAE in the recently concluded IPL. He hit 513 runs in 15 games, with an average of 42, even picking up three wickets this season. A right-hander, who came back after a break from international cricket, hit a whopping 21 sixes and effectively used the switch-hit this season. The 32-year old looks to lead Australia to a first title, having fallen short in the group stage in 2016.
Rahul, who began as a middle-order batsman, seems to have taken a cue from Rohit Sharma. The right-hander is now the top scorer in this year’s IPL with 626 runs, an average of 62 in 13 games. Having come back from a lean tour of England, he has flourished as an opener for the Kings Punjab, going on to captain them. It will be interesting to see how Team India utilizes Rahul in the squad.
The Pakistani captain, who is ranked second in T20 and first in ODI rankings, will have a point to prove when he takes on India in what’s expected to be the blockbuster match of the World Cup. His match-up against Kohli remains to be seen, with the Indian captain not having a century in over two years in international cricket. Azam is known for his exquisite cover drive and will look to lead Pakistan to a second title, after triumphing in 2009 under Shahid Afridi.
Will Afghanistan or Sri Lanka pull a major surprise? Will New Zealand finally win a limited-overs tournament? Will India continue its record to beat Pakistan in the World cup? Who will win this World Cup?
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