Anyone who is a fan of cricket will know that the T20 Cricket World Cup started a couple of days ago (8th March). For me this is an exciting time of the year when all the top teams battle it out to see who is the best in T20 format. I find my twitter feed full to the brink with all the latest news and scores, which I have to admit makes me very happy. Around this time, I find myself addicted to twitter, having to know every drop of detail on the subject and score updates. I thought it would be a good idea to write about my predictions and players to watch out for etc.
The tournament is set out in a few stages. Stage 1 has 2 groups of 4 who all play everyone in their group and the winner of each progress to the stage 2. These are the teams that are not ranked in the top 8 and had to qualify. The groups are as follows:
Group 1 Group 2
Ireland Hong Kong
For Group 1, I find this to be a very easy decision on who will take the group. Without a doubt in my mind, Bangladesh should cruise through the group without too much trouble, especially if players such as Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan maintain their current form.
For Group 2, I am sure most would choose Zimbabwe with such great players as Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza, but I believe the rapidly improving side of Afghanistan will cause an upset. They have been playing very well recently and with the amazing form of Mohammad Shahzad, I believe they can do it.
With this being said, I am now onto Stage 2, which involves another 2 groups with 5 teams and the top 2 teams from each will proceed to the semi-finals, where Group 1 Winner plays Group 2 Runner Up and Group 1 Runner Up plays the Group 2 Winner. The groups are as follows:
Group 1 Group 2
Sri Lanka India
South Africa Pakistan
West Indies Australia
England New Zealand
I want to start by saying, at this stage in the tournament, I do not think Afghanistan and Bangladesh will stand a chance. What I will say is that I do not believe Bangladesh will come bottom of their group, as they always seem to cause an upset. Excluding these two teams, I will go through each team starting Group 1:
Sri Lanka – This for me is very hard to say if they will proceed or not. They have really talented players such as Angelo Matthews and Tillakaratne Dilshan, but as team they have not been playing well in T20 format. My gut says they will not.
South Africa – I believe they will top the group, especially when you have such talented players as the one and only AB de Villiers, the new young sensational bowler in Kagiso Rabada and the ever so consistent Hasim Amla.
West Indies – Originally, they would have been my second pick, but unfortunately due to the several injuries and pull outs recently in Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine etc, I do not think their squad is strong enough to pull through this tough group. What I would say is, watch out for Chris Gayle as I expect him to have a great tournament!
England – Being an England supporter myself I know of the squad very well and I believe the squad has potential to go far in the tournament. If Alex Hales can keep up his amazing form alongside the ‘Mr Consistent’ Joe Root, the batting should be fine. In terms of bowling, it may be a surprise to some of you, but to me the key bowler is Reece Topley. It is a toss up here for me between Sri Lanka and England taking the second spot, but I think England have shown some great form as of recently that I hope will follow through.
Group 2 in my opinion, is extremely hard for prediction. There is so much talent:
India – Being the host nation, they do have the home advantage and with so many talented players such as Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin, I believe they will power through in first place! They are currently the number one ranked team in T20 and I believe they will show exactly why.
Pakistan – This is hard as Pakistan have some great players, in particular Mohammad Amir and Shahid Afridi who I expect to do very well, but overall, I do not feel as though when the moment comes, they will do enough.
Australia – I never like not putting Australia through, when they have the number 1 T20 batsman in the world in Aaron Finch and so many other talented players, but I feel for some reason they just cannot figure T20 out and get up to the level required to get onto the next stage. They are known to pull it out of the bag when needed most, but I think with such a stacked group, they will struggle.
New Zealand –The New Zealand squad I believe is really underrated with the likes of Trent Boult, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson who are just amazing players. I believe that New Zealand will pull through this group onto the semi-finals in second. I just find them to very consistent and to work really well as a team.
South Africa Vs New Zealand and India Vs England
The first match I believe will be very close, but the South African’s will just take it, maybe if Imran Tahir can get some turn on the pitch. The second match I think will be somewhat close, with India winning.
This sets up an India Vs South Africa final!
My gut says India will win the tournament. I believe they are unstoppable in T20 and feel they have what it takes to go all the way.
Please let me know what your predictions are and if you agree with mine!