The World T20 is one of the most awaited events in the international cricket calendar because countries hardly get the time to play T20 internationals with each other, unlike Tests and ODIS. The tournament this year will be held in Sri Lanka in the month of September and teams are already planning to prepare in order to win the Cup, because a World Cup is a World Cup irrespective of the format of the game. Here are the chances at the moment that the top 10 teams of the world have for winning the competition –
The defending champions of the World T20. The team played inspiring cricket to win in the Caribbean, beating archrivals Australia famously in the final. However, they will be dented by the retirement of Kevin Pietersen yesterday from limited overs cricket. Ironically, it was Pietersen who was the key in England winning their first global cricketing event and remains the best batsman of the side. Plus, Paul Collingwood also is no longer in the team and was replaced by Stuart Broad as captain of England’s T20 side.
England have an abundance of talent and the attitude to excel in the shortest format of the game but it is difficult to fathom seeing them progress beyond the Super Eights this time, in unfriendly Sri Lankan conditions. But such is the nature of the format that even a semifinal place is possible for them.
The finalists of the World T20 2010. Australia in T20 cricket is unlike the Australia of ODIs and Tests. It is because the team plays like a bunch of individuals and not as a team in T20s. They have star players who also have had the experience of playing in the IPL such as Shane Watson, David Warner, David Hussey and Brett Lee. Yet, the team is likely to be picked on the basis of performances in the Big Bash 2011-12 season and that would be a recipe of disaster.
This is the only ICC event which Australia has never won and an unsettled team ruins their chances of defying history. To make it to the finals again would be a huge achievement, but do not be surprised if they make an early exit from the competition.
3) Sri Lanka
The hosts of the World T20 2012. Undoubtedly, they are one of the favourites in my book to win this year. The Emerald Isle nation has always been capable of dominating in T20 international cricket but missed out narrowly in the 2009 and 2010 editions. The home advantage is an asset but can also put pressure on them to perform.
Mahela Jayawardene’s captaincy should not affect his batting and with the side Sri Lanka has, any team in the world might succumb to them. Sri Lanka could very well be the fourth team after India, Pakistan and England to have won the tournament.
Undoubtedly, the most talented T20 side in the world. Such is Pakistan’s style of cricket and consistency of players that the T20 format suits them the most. In fact, this is the only team which has been outstanding so far in every World T20 played. In 2007, they ended up as finalists. In 2009, they won the championship. In 2010, they finished as the second semifinalist side.
A different team for T20 cricket could help Pakistan and Mohammad Hafeez’s captaincy would determine their fate in Sri Lanka to a huge extent. Besides, the team is already getting much needed practice in the same country by playing the Lankans in 2 T20 internationals. Pakistan has the firepower in them to become two time World T20 champions, even if they are barred from participating in the IPL.
5) South Africa
South Africa too, are like Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Another favourite to win the competition this time. In 2009 and 2010, they choked yet again in the knockout matches. But this time, they have an impressive coach-captain partnership in Gary Kirsten and AB de Villiers. A young looking South African team should be able to challenge the top sides in the world to win their first global ICC event since 1998.
The Indian subcontinent has not been a happy hunting ground for them, but the players’ IPL experience would help in this tournament because these would be similar conditions. The only thing perhaps that will elude the Proteas from the title is wilting under pressure.
What to say about India? Led by MS Dhoni, the team always enters into a World T20 tournament as the outright favourites to win. But they produce a flop show in the end. In 2007, India won the tournament out of nowhere by defeating archrivals Pakistan in a thrilling final in Johannesburg. Since then, there has been no fairytale ending.
India have now become the laggards in T20 internationals, as they were knocked out of the Super Eights in 2009 and 2010. Is the IPL worth for such performances? India also has a great team of individuals who hardly can perform on the given day together.
This time, they have a hope since a full strength team is likely to be fielded and under Dhoni, they have mastered the Sri Lankan conditions over the years. Could make it to the semifinals to say the least.
7) New Zealand
Always the underdogs, but every dog has its day. New Zealand has players such as Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills, all who can turn a game around in no time. Yet, New Zealand too fails like South Africa in knockout matches. In 2007, they lost to Pakistan in the semifinal while in 2009 and 2010; they were narrowly knocked out in the Super Eight stages.
However, the Kiwis can produce upsets like they did in the World Cup 2011 in the Indian subcontinent ironically and end up with a fabulous performance. They need to be inspired by that and give it their best in Sri Lanka, although support for them will continue to be limited.
8) West Indies
The most unpredictable side in world cricket. But now they are settling down as a unit, by at least challenging top teams even if they cannot win often against them. If Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Kevon Cooper and Sunil Narine play in the same side, this team can actually be hard to stop by. They can spring a surprise this time, if the West Indies Cricket Board makes their selections sensibly.
West Indies have not prevailed in an ICC event since 2004, but this is indeed their best chance to win since the T20 format suits their style of playing as well.
Bangladesh is also giving competition to the best in the business as seen in the Asia Cup, but they have lots to improve upon as a T20 team. Players such as Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al Hasan cannot win the team matches all time. They need all their players to fire, and Bangladesh have the talent to play as a team.
But a semifinal spot is unlikely. The Super Eights will have much tougher sides and the pressure does make a big difference even in T20 cricket. A long break from international cricket does not help their cause as well.
Zimbabwe is amongst the top 10 teams in the world, but not really consistent performers in T20 cricket. They will continue to be the minnows and punching bags for the others, since there is hardly any fear the team creates even if they have names such as Brendan Taylor and Elton Chigumbura. It is never that easy to write off any team in the T20 format of cricket, but Zimbabwe does not qualify as a winner of the competition since there are not even exposed much to this format of the game.
Their squad selections will be able on their domestic T20 tournament as well, yet nothing much can be expected out of this team.