Wednesday April 24, 2024

T20 Cup

By Editorial Board
October 16, 2022

The relatively less known Victorian city of Geelong in Australia will become the centre of the cricketing universe today as Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka take on minnows Namibia in the opening match of the T20 World Cup. This is just a preliminary round game and is likely to be a mismatch in Sri Lanka’s favour but such is the interest in the 16-nation extravaganza that millions all over the globe would be glued to their TV sets to watch the opening day’s double-header also involving a game between the UAE and the Netherlands. Since its inception in 2007, when India edged Pakistan in a thrilling finale of the inaugural event, the T20 spectacle has grown into a mega crowd-puller even surpassing the 50-over World Cup in terms of popularity especially among the younger fans. The eighth edition of the T20 World Cup in Australia was originally supposed to take place in 2020 but was delayed by two years because of Covid. The tournament promises to be yet another thrilling contest in which at least six teams will have realistic chances of winning the coveted title which comes with a whopping winners’ cheque of $1.6 million.

Hosts Australia, the defending champions, find themselves in a perfect position to retain the crown. Apart from a rare hiccup in the recently-concluded home series against England, the Aussies have been at the top of their game and are unsurprisingly one of the critics’ favourites. Aaron Finch´s team will go all out to create history as the first back-to-back World T20 champions. England had been trailing much behind but consecutive series wins against Pakistan and Australia in the lead up to the World Cup have underlined their status as one of the title contenders. India will also be fancying their chances but the absence of key pacer Jasprit Bumrah could dent their title hopes.

Pakistan also seemed ill-prepared for the World Cup following back-to-back losses against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup in the UAE and a series defeat at home against England. But the return of fit-again pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi and a title-winning triumph in a T20 tri-series in New Zealand have certainly lifted their hopes. The prolific duo of skipper Babar Azam and wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan will hold the key for Pakistan but perhaps even more important will be the role of Shaheen. The youngster is a proven match winner but it remains to be seen whether he is able to return to his best after recovering from a knee injury. These are the top four teams that, along with South Africa and New Zealand, seem to have the best chances to make it to the semi-finals. But such is the nature of the games’ fastest format that you can’t rule teams like two-time champions West Indies and Sri Lanka. The Afghans will be hoping to make their presence felt so will be Bangladesh despite a troubled buildup. The gladiatorial arena is set for yet another thrilling edition of the T20 World Cup which concludes at the iconic MCG in Melbourne on November 13.