T20 World Cup 2021: The Odds
Two-thousand-and forty days, sixty-six months, and five-and-a-half years.
It would be inconceivable to think that after Carlos Braithwaite’s heroics in the last edition’s final, it would take another five years for T2O to hit the world stage. After hitting those four sixes, Carlos Braithwaite flung his hands in the air in triumph – and the cricket world reacted similarly.
From London to Sydney and every cricket playing nation in between there was frenzy everywhere. The “hot topic”; where and when would the next T20 World Cup be.
But an outbreak at the end of 2019 brought the entire world to a standstill. Cricket and all sports alike were forced to delay, postpone, and change their approach to the games. Sporting fans across the globe were left heartbroken. Was this the new normal? Would cricket ever resume?
However, despite the insurmountable odds, cricket returned, and fans were piling in the stands once more. With a vaccine finally at their disposal, ICC began the task of selecting an appropriate venue for the 7th edition of the T20 World Cup. Nearly 6 years, and 25 international T20I centuries later, T20 is set to hit the global stage, the time in UAE.
As the countdown to the World Cup begins, fans and cricket veterans are choosing their favourites. Unlike preceding versions, Australia and South Africa are not the strongest contenders for this one.
Who appears to have a chance at the crown-My pick is as follows:
This team definitely tops the list. One would say that’s surprising since they bear a relatively carefree attitude to the game. Not to mention that given their history in the format, their official rank of 9th place in T20I is quite timid and disappointing.
Yet, the six-hitting ability of both their main XI and bench is unmatched. Powerhouses such as Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle are enough to shatter the will and morale of even the most formidable bowling line-ups. It would not be unusual to see West Indies punish opponents the likes of Australia for momentous totals of over 200. Moreover, West Indies has ample experience - with T20 superstars such as DJ Bravo, Lendl Simmons and Ravi Rampaul in their ranks. Therefore, with talent and promise in all departments, it is safe to say that the Windies are a definite favourite to be champion-again.
England unequivocally is a frontrunner for lifting this T20 WC. Being crowned ODI champions in 2019, their current number one ranking in T20I kind of cements their spot as potential winners for this format too.
It is one of those sides with players that can change the course of the game in just a couple of overs. Their batting department occupied with fearless sloggers such as Livingstone, Buttler and Roy is exceptional. They have the top T20I batsmen David Malan in their cavalry too. This combined with their world-class bowling assets such as Adil Rashid, and Tymal Mills, makes even relatively modest 150 odd totals of today seemingly daunting to chase making England debatably, the best-balanced side.
Moreover, the team’s fluidity and versatility means they can readily adapt to UAE’s conditions and make an effortlessly easy task of the entire thing.
Now no one can write off the ambiguous and puzzling “Men in Green. If there is one thing predictable about them, it's their unpredictability. In all their international tournament victories, be it the 1992 ODI WC or the 2009 T20 one or the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, they were hardly considered probable semi-finalists, let alone victors.
Yet coming into this T20 World cup, Pakistan presents a strong case. They have one of the greatest T20 batsmen in the making in Babar Azam, whilst Mohammad Rizwan statistically remains the best T20I player in 2021. Pakistan's batting department with young guns like Haider Ali and experienced veterans such as Shoaib Malik offers quite a diverse yet exciting mix.
Their bowling attack remains unparalleled; Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi are amongst the best of their generation, that backed by Haris Rauf's brute pace, would be enough to frighten even the most formidable opponents. Moreover, the team has its fair share of all-rounders in Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan (both of whom have excellent records in the UAE).
With playing conditions quite similar to what they have at home, Pakistan might just be able to conquer the title and crown itself as champion once more.
Even with all the predictions, cricket is a funny sport. Any team on a given day could win. The cricketing world may find itself a new champion. And that’s the beauty of the ‘gentleman’s game’.
This article has been written by Fasih Taqvi, currently an AS-level student at Froebels International School, Islamabad, Pakistan