So the ICC T20 World Cup has begun in Sri Lanka and as usual when a major tournament starts, the bookies and analysts are wondering and asking ‘Who will win?’. This question is never easy to answer especially when taking into account that T20 is a completely different game from 50 over cricket or test matches.
There have been 3 T20 World Cups. The first was held in South Africa in 2007 and it was Asian rivals India and Pakistan who faced off, with India taking the inaugural cup. In 2009, England hosted the cup and it was Pakistan who defeated Sri Lanka in the final with a match winning Shahid Afridi. The last cup was held in the West Indies and England became the first team not from the Sub-Continent to win it when the beat Australia.
All of the previous winners are serious contenders again. India have the all-powerful batting line up with the likes of Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni but there bowling can let them down time and time again as we saw in the warm up match where they face off Pakistan, when the bowlers were unable to defend a score of more than 180 runs. Nonetheless, India will remain favourites as they can be explosive when it matters and the pitch conditions will definitely suit them, along with the other sub-continental teams.
Pakistan also come in as favourites. Having played the most T20 matches and having won the most as well, they are definitely experienced in this format, add to that the world’s top T20 wicket takers internationally are Pakistani’s. Saeed Ajmal and Nasir Jamshed are the ones to watch as they possess skills that can give Pakistan a victory when least unexpected but a serious concern will be the consistency of the batting.
Defending champions England are always a formidable force with the strength they possess in Eoin Morgan, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad but the one person they seem to be missing is Kevin Pietersen. Events off the field may have distracted England from the trophy as the group stage crushing by India might seem to suggest but if they can put that behind, England may have a good chance of successfully defending the cup.
A successful defence will not be easy, teams such as Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa are also serious contenders with New Zealand and the West Indies also posing some threat. The thing about T20 world cups is that it is unpredictable and any team listed above can win. South Africa for instance are always favourites in major tournaments but they seem to ‘choke’ every semi-final or so. West Indies only need one man to be in form for them to cause damage, Chris Gayle can hit the ball out of the park and inflict chaos on the fielding side. Sri Lanka are the home side and reached the final in 2009, with home crowds and pitch conditions suitable for them, they should at least get to the semi-finals.
Whatever happens and who ever wins, the tournament is sure to be filled with excitement and hopefully bring out massive crowds for the better of cricket.
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