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Big Guns set join in at T20 World Cup
The T20 World Cup moves into the business phase of the tournament as the top 8 nations in world cricket join the party after an opening 5 days that has seen the minnows battling it out for qualification into the main draw.
Asian giants India and Pakistan open up the Super 10 phase when they do battle in group 2, which also features Australia and defending champions the West Indies. Hosts Bangladesh look the most likely to pull through the qualifying rounds after registering 2 wins from 2 thus far, a likely third win today against Hong Kong will see the hosts join in what is regarded as the most difficult group.
Group 1 consists of South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England however it is still unclear which qualifier will join them in the main draw. Ireland sit top of qualifying group B with 2 wins from followed by Zimbabwe and the Netherlands. A win in the first game tomorrow for Zimbabwe against the UAE will put extra pressure on Ireland to keep their unbeaten record intact against the Netherlands. If Zimbabwe and the Netherlands triumph it will leave the 3 sides on 4 points with net run rate being called in to decide who goes through.
Tomorrow’s opening clash between two former T20 World Cup winners India and Pakistan is the perfect way for the tournament to explode into life and will surely draw in one of the biggest television audiences for any sporting event this year.
India won the inaugural tournament in 2007 with Pakistan having reached the semifinals in all 4 editions thus far, winning in 2009. Both sides come loaded with potential match winners and the champion this time round could very well come from either of these 2.
For India, Dahwan, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Raina and Kohli provide plenty of world class batting options and experience while their slow bowling options of Ashwin and Jadeja will make scoring difficult for the Pakistani batting.
Pakistan led by Mohammad Hafeez, have their own match winners in Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Saeed Ajmal however known inconsistency could be their downfall.
On Saturday South Africa spring into action against recently crowned Asian Champions Sri Lanka. The Proteas arrive with the tag of major tournament “chokers,” still hanging around their neck, something they would love to dispel over the next 3 weeks.
Worryingly they have some injury concerns as both spearhead Dale Steyn and captain Faf du Plessis are nursing hamstring injuries. Coach Domingo will be hoping that star player AB de Villiers fires alongside the experience of Hashim Amla and the talented Quinton de Kock. Power hitters David Miller and Albie Morkel will be the men clearing the boundary while Morne Morkel will lead the attack alongside Parnell and Steyn if fit.
Sri Lanka, are certainly one of the favourites and an experienced unit with Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Dilshan, Mathews and Malinga the spine of the team that will provide the spark. Lahiru Thirimanne at the top of the order has been a real find for Sri Lanka and with their Asia Cup win under their belt they come armed with plenty of confidence.
Also on Saturday, England open up their campaign against the dangerous New Zealand. The black Caps recently whitewashed India in an ODI series and in Brendan McCullum and Ross Taylor they have 2 brutal match winners with the bat and are dark horses to lift the title.
England look set to struggle, as unlike all the other top 7 teams they have no world class individuals that can influence a result, especially since they discarded their best player Kevin Pietersen.
Australia, join the competition on Sunday when they face Pakistan that will either have a win or a loss to their name by that stage. The Aussies are the team for the big occasion and have a powerful unit with both bat and ball. Mitchell Johnson wont feature as the pace ace has been forced to withdraw due to a toe infection sustained in the final Test against South Africa however whether he would have been effective on the slow Bangladesh wickets would have been questionable.
David Warner will take center stage at the top of the order alongside T20 specialist Aaron Finch, a brutal opening pair. Warner in particular has been in sublime form this summer scoring more than 1000 runs against England and South Africa and has the ability to single-handedly win a game.
James Faulkner and Mitchell Stark provide firepower and controlled variety with the ball while Shane Watson and the 3 Brads, Hodge, Hogg and Haddin provide the
Australians with an abundance of experience.
Defending Champions the West Indies also feature on Sunday when they take on India. The form and brutality of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith at the top of the order will be crucial to their cause. The pair specialise in raw power hitting especially Gayle who has a top T20 score of 175!
The big hitters don’t stop there as the Windies have plenty of back up in the form of Dwayne Bravo, the inform Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy all capable of destructive performances.
Sunil Narie has an outstanding IPL record and if he can reproduce that subcontinent form, the Windies could go all the way again.
With the final scheduled for the 6th of April it is difficult to say who will feature in a wide open tournament that is set to provide plenty of excitement to cricketing fans around the world.