T20 World Cup Wrap: Tricky business for crystal ball gazing
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Kristy Havill

We only need to look at Scotland storming back from the doldrums to defeat Bangladesh on the opening night of the ICC T20 World Cup to know that this format is a fickle beast.

It’s difficult to ascertain who’s in form and who isn’t. Matches can turn on a dime (four wickets in four balls, anyone?), players’ individual success can fluctuate at alarming rates, and team results can be a rollercoaster as a consequence. 

The conditions in the UAE won’t lend themselves to be very forgiving either, with all signs pointing towards the pitches playing a lot lower and slower than what we’re accustomed to seeing at home in New Zealand. The ball isn’t going to come as nicely onto the bat so batters will need to generate more power at their end to send the ball over the fence. To achieve that, they’ll need to be on the money with their timing so that they don’t go through their shots early and end up giving the opposition catching practise.

In other words it will be very spin friendly, and this is evident in most of the squads being named. Some, like the Blackcaps, have balanced their squads well with a wide range of spin options as well as having a reliable seam attack.

But then there’s England, currently ranked number one in the world in T20s, who are the big outlier in that respect. They only have two spinners in the entire squad, so you get the feeling they could be in trouble. They do boast a Rolls Royce batting lineup, but their seam attack is chocker. It screams conservativeness – which is unsurprising really, it is the Brits after all. 

That’s not to say that there won’t be anything for the seamers in this tournament. But they’ll need to be canny with their slower ball variations and where they put their yorkers. 

You’d be hard pressed to look past a team like India to go on and win the tournament. They’re jam packed with talent, oozing class, and have match winners right up and down the lineup. They were the inaugural champions in 2007, but haven’t won a World Cup (50 over or T20) since 2011. After losing both the 2019 World Cup semi-final and the World Test Championship final to our very own Blackcaps, one could argue that they’re due for some silverware.

On the other hand, don’t be too upset if you draw Pakistan in the work sweepstake. Led by the outstanding Babar Azam, who is joined at the top of the order by Mohammad Rizwan in a devastating opening partnership (they’re averaging 53.62 and 9.36 runs per over), the men in green are out to prove to the world that they will not be walked over following two tours of their country being cancelled. 

It would also be unwise to rule out the West Indies as contenders – those boys know how to win games of T20 cricket, and they have a grand old time while they’re doing it. They are the only country to have won the T20 World Cup twice, and with Kieron Pollard at the helm with a supporting cast of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell you’re guaranteed fireworks.

Australia and South Africa look a little at sea, so Group 1 could be a lottery as to who might go through to the semi-finals. In Group 2 it will be a tough ask for the Blackcaps to get out of their group with India and Pakistan in front of them. Not to mention a passionate Afghanistan team with Rashid Khan waving his leg spin wand. 

If the opening matches are anything to go by, we’re in for a corker of a tournament.