SPORTS

Preview Of Group Two In The T-20 World Cup

Having assessed the outcome of the potential teams in Group 1, it still doesn’t mean Group 2 will be any easier to survive.

Group 2 will see 3 Asian teams square off, including tournament favorites India, their rival’s Pakistan, and the ever-improving Afghanistan.

The group is completed with the under-the-radar Kiwis as well as likely minnows Ireland and Scotland. In this article, we assess the chances of each team to emerge from this group towards the semifinal.

India

The Men in Blue are a cricketing powerhouse and are ranked number 2 in the world in T20 cricket. The team was slated to host the tournament, but due to the ongoing pandemic, their strategy will have to be adjusted, with Oman and UAE being the location for the showpiece event. The team has an advantage because the squad has been playing on these pitches day in and day out due to the IPL’s relocation.

The team is blessed with players who are brilliant in every department of the game. Having a front three of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and captain Virat Kohli is almost unfair to a bowler. Also, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rahul Chahar, and mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy will be a handful on the slow-turning pitches. In terms of form, India beat England 3-2 in a five-match T20I series in March but lost 2-1 to Sri Lanka on tour in July. Nonetheless, I think this team is primed to win this group and get closer to their 2nd title since the scalp in 2007.

New Zealand

The Kiwis have always been the team that is underrated and undervalued based on their performance. They came agonizingly close to winning their first 50-over World Cup title. They rebounded this year by winning the inaugural champions of the ICC World Test Championship. In 2021, they have beaten Australia 3-2, Bangladesh at home 3-0 but lost the return leg in Bangladesh 3-2.

The lineup will be dangerous with Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Devon Conway, and Glenn Phillips. Tim Southee and Trent Boult will lead the bowling attack, but Ish Sodhi will be the key with spin. I think it will be a tight finish for runner-up with New Zealand and Pakistan, and head to head will be crucial.

Pakistan

The Men in Green are always a dangerous squad to face in the World Cup, and they will be hungry for their first t-20 title. In 2021, the Pakistanis have been in good t-20 form. They have beaten South Africa 3-1, Zimbabwe 2-1, and the West Indies 1-0. Their only blemish is a 2-1 loss to England during their British summer tour.

The team should be familiar with conditions, and the team is filled with depth. Captain Babar Azam is a brilliant batsman who is poised to score big runs to support his team’s effort to win. The first match against India will go a long way into determining who will make it into the semifinal. Ultimately, I think they will be the runners-up in the group just ahead of New Zealand.

Afghanistan

The Afghanistan players are already winners even without playing a single game just because of the adversity they have overcome to be in the tournament. These players have shown commitment and determination to pursue their careers despite the turmoil in their homeland. The Taliban have toppled the government, and it remains to be seen whether they can ever return home.

They were able to trounce the Windies in their warmup match, and I will not be surprised if they can get a victory against the Big Three in this group. However, I don’t think they will make the Final Four semifinal round.

Projected Teams from Preliminary Round-Scotland and Ireland

Ireland has made it a habit of beating ranked teams at major tournaments. It includes Cricket World Cup victories over Pakistan in 2007, England in 2011, and West Indies in 2015. The team consists of senior players and young players. Their only series against a top team in 2021 was against South Africa, which ended with a 3-0 series loss.

The Scots have stuck with a core group of senior players; it includes captain Kyle Coetzer who has played over 400 T20Is and was named the ICC Associate Player of the Decade. Despite the lack of match practice before the tournament, the Scottish team upset Bangladesh and is poised to win their group. However, I don’t expect either Ireland and Scotland to upset the Big Three, and they will not qualify for the semis.

Therefore, from Group 2, I have India as group winners and Pakistan as the runner-up.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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