@Yas_Wisden 5 minute read
Over the course of the T20 World Cup, we will be charting the teams with the most ‘momentum’ at various stages of the tournament.
In our first iteration of the power rankings, we rank the 16 teams on their likelihood to win the competition, referencing the recent form of both the overall side and key players.
Favourites for the tournament and rightly so. The T20 World Cup will be held in the UAE where the second leg of the IPL is currently taking place. Given that every India T20 World Cup squad member is involved in the IPL, they will be the team most in tune with conditions ahead of the event. That said, the early days of the IPL’s resumption have thrown more questions than answers before they finalise their squad, with several squad members – the likes of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav – evidently out of form.
Runners up in 2016, England go into the tournament without two of their best players in Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, who is probably the most lethal quick in T20 cricket. The majority of their IPL contingent are struggling for form, none more so than their captain Eoin Morgan who averages less than 12 with a strike-rate of 101 in IPL 2021.
The inclusion of Tymal Mills – one of the most effective death bowlers on the planet – should go some way to mitigating the absence of Archer, even if they do fulfil slightly different roles.
3. West Indies
The defending champions enter the tournament with a formidable batting line-up, featuring some of the most accomplished cricketers in the format’s history. Their bowling attack is slightly weaker than their likely competitors for the title, but their extraordinary batting depth should make up for that to some degree.
The Aussies have lost their last four T20I series but if their 2019 World Cup run is anything to go by, they shouldn’t be judged by bilateral results with understrength sides.
What should be a concern though is the form of David Warner. Warner, an undisputed titan of T20 cricket, is currently undergoing the most difficult of his 12 IPL campaigns, one that has seen him lose his place in the Sunrisers Hyderabad side. He does, though, average nearly 100 for Australia in T20I cricket over the past two years – Australia will be desperate for Warner to relocate that kind of form ahead of the tournament.
Never write off Pakistan in a global tournament, especially after a bit of pre-tournament drama, something they have had in spades this time around. They have a balanced squad and their best batters – Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan – could come into their own on slower surfaces that make destructive power-hitting slightly harder.
They pushed England close in a three-match away series earlier this year and in Shaheen Afridi they possess a bowler who could feasibly be the bowler of the competition.
6. New Zealand
Semi-finalists in 2016, New Zealand have a reasonably balanced squad with a handful of excellent batters, one gun quick in Lockie Ferguson (they could have had two if they picked Adam Milne), a decent complement of seamers and a pair of experienced spinners.
Bangladesh are fresh off the back of a consecutive home series wins over Australia and New Zealand, though both sides travelled with understrength outfits. The pitches in the UAE are unlikely to be as extreme as the ones used in Bangladesh – they won both series without once reaching 145.
There is no Tamim Iqbal in the squad but there are a group of youngsters who have enjoyed decent starts to their international careers – watch out for Shoriful Islam, a left-arm quick who was part of Bangladesh’s 2020 U19 World Cup winning team. Encouragingly, Mustafizur Rahman looks to have rediscovered something near his best form.
8. South Africa
South Africa still boast a number of match-winners, namely Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada – but the omissions of Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir seriously weakens their chances. They do not have a good enough batting line up to be able to do without a player of du Plessis’ class.
Afghanistan are short on international cricket, but their best players are some of the most sought-after T20 cricketers on the planet. Any side with Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi have a chance of going far. This could be the tournament that destructive young opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz properly announces his arrival on the world stage.
Another team short on recent T20I action, Netherlands have been been without five of their first XI since the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier final in November 2019. In Ryan ten Doeschate, Colin Ackermann, Roelof van der Merwe, Fred Klaassen, Tim van der Gugten and Paul van Meekeren, they have a team capable of ruffling a few feathers in the Super 12s, should they get there.
11. Sri Lanka
The weakest Sri Lanka squad in a generation, it really wouldn’t be that much of a surprise if they failed to progress to the Super 12s. In Wanindu Hasaranga they have a player of genuine star quality, but he is alone in that regard in this Sri Lanka squad. Their series win over India earlier this year was only really possible after India were forced to field a side that had Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav batting at six and seven. That series aside, Sri Lanka haven’t won a bilateral T20I series in two years.
Given their group, Scotland should fancy their chances of joining Bangladesh in the Super 12s. Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir are a pair of left-arm spinners who should make the most of the spin-friendly conditions while their attack should be bolstered by the presence of county quicks Brad Wheal and Josh Davey.
In Paul Stirling, Ireland have an opener capable of winning games almost on his own while Kevin O’Brien, though not quite the force he once was, is another match-winner at the top of the order. Simi Singh is also a vastly improved player who could come into his own on turning pitches. Though probably a better side that Scotland, they are ranked below their European rivals on account of finding themselves in a trickier group.
Bilal Khan, Oman’s whippy left-arm quick, was the most eye-catching bowler at the 2019 Qualifier, finishing the tournament as its leading wicket-taker with 18. Oman will play all three of their Group B matches at home so have a decent chance of qualifying for the Super 12s.
Impressive in the 2019 Qualifying event, beating Scotland in the group stage. Skipper Gerhard Erasmus was named the Player of the Tournament, and in JJ Smit, Jan Frylink and Bernard Scholtz, they have a group of players who have had success in the UAE.
16. Papua New Guinea
Surpassed expectations by finishing as runners up in the 2019 Qualifier but despite that impressive run, you fancy either Oman or Scotland to pip them to a Super 12s spot in Group B.