World T20: Outright Preview

Written by Jason Dewey for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!


The wait is almost over for cricket fans across the globe as the World T20 draws nearer. The 16 best sides in the world will slug it out from 8 March - 3 April to be crowned the kings of T20 cricket.

India head into the tournament as favourites, however South Africa, who have had an excellent summer in terms of limited overs cricket could well give them a run for their money. The West Indies and New Zealand have also named strong squads and could spring a surprise or two. So without further adieu, let's take a closer look at all of the teams who have thus far qualified for the second round of the tournament.

Format
The 2016 World T20 will be competed for by 16 teams which have all been seeded and separated into two rounds of competition. The first round of the competition will be made up of two groups divided as follows:

Group A
Group B
Bangladesh
Afghanistan
Ireland
Hong Kong
Netherlands
Scotland
Oman
Zimbabwe

The first round of the competition will see each team play every other side in its group once. Following the completion of these games, the team at the top of each group will progress to the Super 10 series. The winner of Group A will be placed in Group 2 while the winner of Group B will be placed in Group 1.

The second round of the tournament will comprise of ten teams divided into two groups of five as follows:

Group 1
Group 2
England
Australia
South Africa
India
Sri Lanka
New Zealand
West Indies
Pakistan
Group B Winner
Group A Winner

The second round of the competition will pretty much mirror that of the first. Each team will play all of the other teams in its group once. The winner top two sides in each pool will advance to the semi-finals where the team placed first in Group 1 will play the team placed second in Group 2 and the team placed first in Group 2 will play the team placed second in Group 1.

Click here for the full fixture list.

Group 1
England: 6/1
South Africa: 5/1
Sri Lanka: 14/1
West Indies: 8/1
Group B Winner

England 6/1
England are in a bit of a strange place in terms of their T20 side at present.  Since their victory in the 2010 edition of the World T20 in which they decimated Australia in the final thanks to fine performances from Ryan Side Bottom, Graeme Swann and Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen – remember them? The only survivor from that side is Eoin Morgan, who will captain the Three Lions in India this year. The remainder of the squad is made of potentially explosive youngsters who could well propel the English to the dizzying heights they experienced in 2010.

Jason Roy, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley and Jos Buttler all lack experience in Sub-Continent – more specifically Indian – Conditions. This is where someone like Kevin Pietersen could come in handy: a proven batsman with the quality to excel, and indeed propel the English to the final of the competition. I really do think the English selectors have missed a trick leaving the flamboyant and often divisive figure of KP out. They look strong on paper, however, I don’t think I can see them getting out of this group.

Squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, James Vince, David Willey.

Verdict: Semi-Finals
I really do like the look of the England side and think they'll beat Sri Lanka and the West Indies easily enough on their way to the semi-finals where they'll more than likely bow out to Inida, provided they fail to beat South Africa. 

South Africa 5/1
The Proteas are in a good space right now in terms of their T20 prospects. Their squad contains an almost perfect blend of experience and youth with guys like Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada learning from the likes of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn. The squad is so strong in fact, that if this year’s edition of the tournament wasn’t being played on the Sub-Continent, I’d tip them to finally break free from their chokers tag.

While everyone is excitedly looking to guys like de Villiers and de Kock to perform for the South Africans, I think that much will hinge on the performances of Imran Tahir. The Pakistani-born leg-spinner hit form in a big way in the T20s against England in February following a bit of a lean spell. His ability to turn the ball and bounce out of the Indian decks will cause problems for even the most seasoned Sub-Continent batsmen.

Squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers (wk), Jean-Paul Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.

Verdict: Losing finalists
The Proteas shouldn't have too much trouble finishing on top of this group. Their only real test will come against England. If they can avoid slipping up against the West Indies and Sri Lanka; they should make it to the final where I think they'll lose to India.


Sri Lanka 14/1
To be frank, the reigning World T20 champions have very little hope of retaining their crown this year. While the conditions will be on their side, they playing personnel have struggled to put together any performances of substance in the last few months. A poor showing on their tour of New Zealand has since been followed up by sub-standard performance in the Asia Cup. At the date of publication, Lasith Malinga and his men had only won one out of three games – that victory coming in a nervy 14-run win over a weak UAE side.

Malinga made his return to competitive cricket with a barnstorming performance against the Emiratis with figures of 4-26. The worry for the Lions, however, will be their lack of depth and form with bat in hand. Since the start of 2015, the Lions have only managed three T20 International wins in 12 games – simply not good enough for a side looking to defend their crown. Don’t be surprised to see them fall at the first hurdle.

Squad: Lasith Malinga (c), Angelo Mathews (vc), Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Jeffrey Vandersay.

Verdict: Group stage
Sri Lanka simply don't have the quality to challenge in this competition. They'll likely bow out in the group stages.

West Indies 8/1
The West Indies will be hoping to emulate the form of their U19 side following their shock victory in the U19 World Cup. The problem with the West Indies is, you never quite know what you’re going to get when they take to the field. They will unfortunately be without Kieron Pollard (injured) and Sunil Narine (bowling action) heading into the tournament, although they can call on the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell; who are perhaps three of the best T20 players in the world at the moment.

Whether or not their supporting cast can live up to expectations remains to be seen. Samuel Badree, the side’s premier spinner, has struggled of late. His dismal KFC Big Bash campaign for the Brisbane Heat was immediately followed up by an equally underwhelming performance in the recently-concluded PSL. Captain Darren Sammy has also struggled to impose himself on games of late as he has done in the past.

Squad: Darren Sammy (c), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor.

Verdict: Group stage
While they'll provide their fair share of fireworks, I simply don't see Darren Sammy and his charges making out of this group.

Group 2
Australia 5/1
India 9/4
New Zealand 10/1
Pakistan 10/1
Australia 5/1

Australia
The Aussies come into this tournament woefully short of time out in the middle in the shortest format of the game. In fact, at the time of publishing, they had only played four T20 Internationals since the start of 2015, losing all four of them. They will have an opportunity to prepare with a three-match T20 tour of South Africa in March, although it may well prove to be too little, too late. Their 3-0 home T20 defeat at the hands of India in January perfectly highlighted their lack of depth in the bowling department.

They do look a bit stronger in that department heading into this competition with Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood returning to the fold. Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar – two vastly inexperienced players at this level – are the only two spin options aside from Glenn Maxwell. I think the selectors have missed a trick leaving out Nathan Lyon, who has in truth struggled in this format, but would bring a wealth of experience to the side. They’ll definitely rely too heavily on their top order in this tournament and may even struggle to get out of their group.

Squad: Steven Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill (wk), Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa.

Verdict: Group stage
The Australians are in a bit of a transitional phase at the moment. their limited overs sides haven't quite experienced they success that their test XI has. A lot will hinge on their games with New Zealand, which I think the Black Caps will win. 

India 9/4
The Indians are definitely my pre-tournament favourites heading into this year’s edition of the World T20. They have immensely experienced core of players who have all excelled at the highest level for years now. They’re well accustomed to the conditions and will be buoyed on by their rapturous fans. Their charge will no doubt be led by Virat Kohli. The diminutive maestro is light-years ahead of anyone else in terms of T20 batting. At the time of publishing, his last six T20 International scores read: 90*, 59*, 50, 7, 49 and 56*. If he fires in this tournament, India are already halfway there.

It’s difficult to pick out any weaknesses when you look through their squad for the tournament. In Ravi Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, the Indians have two of the planet’s most economical spinners. Their top order isn’t too shabby either. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane can all do some serious damage up front with guys like MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina finishing things off at the end. They look excellent value to go all the way in this season’s competition – bet against them at your own peril!

Squad: MS Dhoni (c/wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh.

Verdict: Winners
Can anybody stop the Indians? I don't really think so. They should brush aside all of the sides in their group on the way to finals where I think they'll edge South Africa. 

New Zealand 10/1
New Zealand have slowly but surely transformed themselves into loveable also-rans, to one of the most competitive limited overs teams on the planet. It’s just a shame that their talismanic former skipper, Brendon McCullum hasn’t made himself available for the competition. Nonetheless, they still possess some incredibly dangerous batsmen and some frighteningly economical bowlers.

One of the guys to watch will be Martin Guptill, who has enjoyed an absolutely staggering season thus far. He’s formed an excellent partnership atop the order with his captain Kane Williamson and can take the game away from the opposition the space of five overs. Much of the Black Caps’ hopes will fall squarely on the shoulders of these two. While Trent Boult and Tim Southee will be expected to go about their business as is the norm; I’m really excited to see whether or not Ish Sodhi can announce himself on the world stage with a strong showing in this tournament. The young leg-spinner will be desperately keen to impress in the country of his birth.

Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi,  (wk)Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

Verdict: Semi-finals
It's a pity, really. If this tournament was being played anywhere else except for the Sub-Continent, I'd back them to at least make the finals. They'll likely bow out in the semi-finals this year. 

Pakistan 10/1
Pakistan were rather unfortunate to be drawn in this group. I really don’t think they have enough in terms of batting prowess to get out of this group – or even win a game. Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik look to be spent forces while newer players like Khurram Manzoor and Sharjeel khan don’t exactly inspire confidence at the top of the order. Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi aren’t the players they used to be either, and very rarely light up the game with willow in hand anymore.

What they lack in the batting department, however, they more than make up for in terms of their bowling. Amir, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz could possibly be one of the most dangerous seam attacks in the competition with the dangerous Imad Wasim and Afridi providing more than capable spin options. If they had a bit more depth in terms of their batting I think that they could well challenge for the title, however; their lack of firepower at the top of the order will likely see them fall well short. 

Squad: Shahid Afridi (c), Anwar Ali, Imad Wasim, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz.

Verdict: Group stage
They're simply not good enough to challenge in this competition. They might beat whoever qualifies from the first round, but that's about it.

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