The T20 World Cup is Here

October 21st, 2021 Matt Morrison

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After 2020 deprived us of international tournaments, we've got another world cup to look forward to in the shape of the electrifying T20 world cup. With the greatest names looking to set the tournament alight with big hitting, mystery bowling and athletic fielding, we can assure you there are plenty of fireworks to look forward to!

We take a look at the tournament contenders and the talking points surrounding each team heading into the tournament.

India

The tournament favourites! With the IPL being the focal point of T20 cricket, India have managed to produce an abundance of talent in this format and are quite rightly the team who look most likely to lift the trophy on 14th November. With youngsters pushing the established stars for a starting place, the Indian selectors probably have the nicest but toughest job in world cricket to choose a starting XI.

There is the surprise inclusion of veteran spinner Ravi Ashwin, who last played a white ball match 4 years ago and was dropped for every test match in England recently, but never disappoints with the ball when he plays. Ashwin along with Bhuvanesh Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah will lead an experienced bowling attack. The depth in their batting is scary! Who knows what combination they will go with but Rohit and KL Rahul will get them off to a solid start up top, with a wealth of destructive players coming in later on.

England

England look to be India's closest challengers but will have to do it without their big game player, Ben Stokes. In Stokes' absence, Liam Livingston has hit form at the right time to be the power hitter in the middle order. Livingston was the top scorer in the inaugural Hundred this year and with his part time spin will be a key player if England go far in the tournament.

There's no doubt that England will employ with their tactic of continued big hitting even if they lose quick wickets, which has been a recipe for their success in white ball cricket in recent years. They are also without paceman Jorfra Archer so the pressure will be on Mark Wood to fire in the 90mph missiles. England will also be relying on Adil Rashid to have a good tournament as he has been their go to man.

The biggest talking point might be Eoin Morgan's place in the team. Desperately out of nick, he will be wanting to get some runs early in the tournament otherwise it might be Jos Buttler lifting the trophy if England go all the way.

Pakistan

They have seen some sort of resurgence in recent years which has been led by their captain Babar Azam. Babar along with Rizwan are the leading run scorers in international T20 cricket in 2021 and you feel that if Pakistan are to challenge, these 2 need to carry on their good run of form. Other teams will fancy their chances against Pakistan if they can get these batsmen out early as they lack the same strength in their middle order.

They have included experience in their squad and they have a lightning quick bowling attack, lead by left armer Shaheen Afridi, that will cause problems for other teams. They are the in-form team coming into the tournament and the conditions will also suit them but the lack of depth in their batting is likely to hold them back from winning this outright.

West Indies

The holders and also the most successful team on the world T20 stage. They arguably have the most destructive batting line up and on their day could blow away the strongest of bowling attacks. Carlos Braithwaite smashing Ben Stokes for 4 consecutive 6's in the final in 2016 to send West Indies to glory really does summarise what the West Indies are all about.

There are so many big hitters in their side that it's hard to highlight any of them as a stand out player but you can be assured that they will keep coming at you with power. We're all excited to see what the universe boss, Chris Gayle, can bring to the tournament, in what might be his final bow on the international stage. They certainly don't have the same strength in the bowling attack which is their achilles heel but expect some high scoring West Indies matches during the tournament and don't be surprised if they're singing Champion again on 14th November.

Australia

The best bowling attack coming into the competition. With Starc, Cummins and Hazelwood able to swing the ball at 90mph with control, that will give the Aussie's 12 overs of wicket taking pace! They will be backed up by the spin of Adam Zampa who has become one of the best spin bowlers in white ball cricket over the last couple of years.

The key for Australia will be the performance of their all rounders. Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell who have the batting ability to smash the ball to all parts but also to stick around and steady the ship if needed. If Warner and Finch can fire regularly at the top of the order, that will give Maxwell and Stoinis to go big later on in the innings and we could be seeing the Aussies taking home the trophy.

South Africa

They will be relying on their bowling attack to steer them to victories. There are only 3 players from the 2016 squad that have made it to this year's edition so it will be fresh faces that will be in action for South Africa. With Rabada and Nortje key to Delhi's success in the IPL, the Proteas will be relying on these 2 speed merchants to keep a lid on the opposition's batting attacks. Their squad also contains the number 1 ranked T20 bowler, Tabraiz Shamsi, who's spin variations make him one to watch.

It's a new era for South African cricket with new names coming through but have they missed a trick in not being able to persuade Faf du Plessis or Chris Morris to get on the plane? Faf lead Chennai to IPL glory and Morris is the IPL's most expensive player so it's disappointing those guys won't be showcasing their talents on the world stage. South Africa also have a tricky group to get out of so their tournament will be regarded as a success if they do reach the semi finals. And anything could happen from there on...

New Zealand

Kiwi cricket is on a high having won the test championship at Lords in the summer. Even though they did make it to the 50 final in 2019, you feel that their white ball cricket isn't at the same level as their red ball side. Whilst they have a few xfactor players in their side in the shape of Trent Boult and Kane Williamson, do they have the strength in their best XI to go all the way? One factor that is in their favour is they have been drawn in the easier group.

The emergence of Kyle Jamieson is a boost for them, a tall pace bowler who can give it a whack down the order and experienced opener Martin Guptill is always a danger at the top of the order so other teams will be wary if his tournament gets off to a good start. All things considered, you expect the winner to come from elsewhere.

The best thing about the shorter format of cricket is that any side on their day can beat anyone so we should certainly expect the odd upset during the competition but it's hard to see any other sides making it to the final over the teams mentioned above.

We're all excited for the group stage proper to get underway this weekend so let's hope for big scoring and tight finishes to keep us on the edge of our seats throughout the tournament. Go well.

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