The T20 World Cup is all set to get underway in Oman on Sunday and our writers have laid out their predictions for the tournament.
Phil Walker – Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief
Semi-finalists and winner: Pakistan, India, West Indies, England; with India to win it. It feels like it’s their time: the pitches will suit their slowies, and they’ve got the best cross-format quick in the world.
Leading run-scorer: Babar Azam, if you please – a one-man rejection of the far-from-groundless idea that T20’s fixation with power doesn’t leave much for the soul.
Leading wicket-taker: Lightning-fast Morrissey-lookalike Shaheen Shah Afridi is a southpaw marvel with the new ball, so I’ll go with him.
Breakout star: Liam Livingstone, hopefully; Suryakumar Yadav more likely. And if Paul Stirling still counts, I’ll have him too.
Jo Harman – Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor
Semi-finalists and winner: I’ve got West Indies topping Group 1, with England just sneaking through as runners-up before coming unstuck against India’s spinners in the semis. Where on earth was Liam Dawson, we’ll all ask. Pakistan take down the Windies in the other semi and then ruin Kohli’s captaincy swansong in an all-time classic of a final. Shoaib Malik scoops the ball over Pant’s head to seal the deal and announces he has several years of international cricket left in the tank.
Leading run-scorer: If Pakistan are actually going to win it, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan will need to score mountains of runs, which is basically what they’ve been doing for a while now. Rizwan to top the run-scoring charts.
Leading wicket-taker: Jasprit Bumrah and Shaheen Afridi will be there or thereabouts but I’m going for Varun Chakravarthy. The Indian leggie has had a bumper IPL campaign for KKR, particularly during the second leg in the UAE.
Breakout star: Chakravarthy slots in here too but I’m looking forward to watching Afghanistan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz. He absolutely smashes it.
Taha Hashim – Wisden.com features editor
Semi-finalists and winner: England, India, Pakistan and South Africa. A dreamy Pakistan-India final it is, with Kohli’s men edging it.
Leading run-scorer: Jos Buttler. After a quiet summer – he played just six matches for England across all forms – it’s time to get loud. He’s got space at the top of the order to put up big scores and it’ll be a shock to the system if he doesn’t. After 22 T20I knocks as an opener, Buttler averages above 50 with a strike rate closing in on 150.
Leading wicket-taker: Jasprit Bumrah. Fast, canny and downright mesmerising. I’m backing him to take India all the way.
Breakout star: Anrich Nortje. He’s bowled rockets and made a name for himself in the IPL, but the South Africa paceman has never played at a World Cup. I’m looking forward to some 90mph+ fury on the global stage.
Cameron Ponsonby – Wisden.com writer
Semi-finalists and winner: In Group 1 it’s hard to look past England and West Indies as the two to go through. Likewise India in Group 2. For that fourth slot, realistically it’s probably going to be one of New Zealand or Pakistan – so I’m going to pick Bangladesh. Albeit against weakened sides, they absolutely thumped Australia and New Zealand recently and if the wickets in the UAE are as slow as we’re being led to believe they could increasingly become the ones to look out for.
In terms of a winner? Heart says England, head says… India.
Leading run-scorer: KL Rahul to carry his IPL form into the World Cup. To my shame I’ve only recently begun to appreciate just how good Rahul’s T20 record is. A phenomenal player.
Leading wicket-taker: Jasprit Bumrah. Tried to be imaginative here but all roads led back to the Indian quick.
Breakout star: George Munsey. The Munsey bandwagon has been rolling around cricket hipster circles for a while now. The Scottish opener loves a reverse sweep and therefore I love him.
Aadya Sharma – Wisden India editor
Semi-finalists and winner: West Indies (winners), New Zealand, Pakistan, England. West Indies are unpredictable but that adds to their danger, and there’s a good mix of youth and experience flowing inside the team to take them through. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t mind a new winner too (read NZ). While it’s difficult to make predictions in T20 cricket, traditionally strong outfits such as India and Australia have very ‘safe’ line-ups, when they could probably do with a bit more experimentation.
Leading run-scorer: There are runs and then there are beautiful runs – the latter regularly come off the bat of Babar Azam, and it would be a treat to watch him unleash some of his class at another global event. Currently ranked No.2 in the world, and having scored more T20I runs than anyone since the start of 2018, choosing him wasn’t really a difficult choice.
Leading wicket-taker: It’s probably a bold call, given that Bangladesh might not make it to the knockouts, but Mustafizur Rahman is the sort of bowler who would thrive on UAE’s sluggish tracks. He has a habit of picking up wickets in clusters, and if Bangladesh do get past the first stage, he could be the difference for them this time.
Breakout star: Suryakumar Yadav is already an IPL star, and, if given a decent run, could enjoy similar success in the other blue kit. He shrugged off patchy form with a whirlwind 40-ball 82 earlier this month to finish the IPL, a perfect teaser for what he can offer.