The inaugural World Test Championship is done and dusted, and the cricketing world has shifted…
Roshan Abeysinghe previews the forthcoming 2021 T20 World Cup
The much anticipated ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is around the corner with the event’s Super 12 group rounds scheduled to kick off on 23 October. Indeed, the big guns of world cricket will be ready with their heavy weaponry in a battle of wits, talent and class.
As for the world outside, the championship will be a welcome relief in terms of entertainment and excitement even as people continue to suffer the consequences of the deadly pandemic. So instead of waking up to mostly bad news, this showcase cricketing event will offer some solace to cricket fans across the globe.
The 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup will see a first round commencing on 17 October when four of the eight nations (including Sri Lanka) will vie to qualify for the big thing along with eight others in the Super 12 format.
And the hottest and most discussed topic will revolve around who the ultimate winner will be. This debate is bound to continue right up to the final on 14 November, considering the rivalry that the teams and their fans bring to the table.
At the outset and considering the ICC T20 rankings, England, India, Pakistan and New Zealand are the top four teams. Surprisingly, despite possessing all the requisites for T20 cricket, the Caribbean Kings are languishing at the bottom of the table.
Despite the rankings however, the West Indies should be viewed as one of the favourites. While India and England are the hot contenders, the Windies aren’t too far behind with possibly Pakistan being the next in line. And perhaps the Black Caps are the dark horses to reach the finish line.
On the team front, England are the hardest hit with two of their champions – viz. Jofra Archer (due to injury) and Ben Stokes (due to stress) – opting out. Liam Livingstone, Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan along with left-arm quick Tymal Mills will be the players to watch.
In the case of India, there are a few surprises with Yuzvendra Chahal and Shikhar Dhawan being left out of the squad for the T20 World Cup. However, in a settled lineup such as India’s with players of the calibre of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav (they’re the ones to watch), the squad is formidable.
The West Indies on the other hand, have a number of interesting choices. One of them is fast bowler Ravi Rampaul who has reappeared after being in the wilderness. The universal boss Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell will be their go-to players – and indeed, potential match winners.
Pakistan’s Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Afridi will be tough nuts to crack but the New Zealanders are no pushovers – they have players of the calibre of Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill for experience, and Devon Conway for sheer talent.
And while these would be among the favourites to lift the cup on 14 November, Australia and South Africa on their day won’t be pushovers either.
Meanwhile, the saddest episode of the 2021 T20 World Cup will be the plight of Afghanistan. Unsure as to what their cricketing future is and with skipper Rashid Khan resigning minutes after the squad was announced, the indications are that the situation with regard to the national team is extremely unsettled.
Two other major cricketing nations that haven’t been discussed here are Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. This is because they will have to emerge from the qualifying round to play in the Super 12s.
However, considering the unpredictable nature of the T20 format, no team can be written off, which gives them an outside chance to progress in the championship too.