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WT20 2016 – Will someone (please) crash India’s party?

With the qualifying round done, the 6th World T20 will get underway proper on the 15th with India taking on an in-form New Zealand outfit to kick off the business end of the tournament dubbed the Super 10 round.

In the Super 10 round, the competing teams have been divided into 2 groups of 5 with the top 2 teams from each group advancing to the Semi-finals later this month. The top 8 teams in the ICC World T20 rankings gained automatic entry to the Super 10 round while Afghanistan and Bangladesh clinched the final two spots via the qualification round held from the 8th – 13th of March.

No. 1 ranked India will start the tournament as overwhelming favourites to win their 2nd T20 title, but will any other team be able to spring a surprise on the hosts and spoil their party? Here’s a look at the 10 teams looking to take home the trophy.

Group 1 – West Indies, South Africa England, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan

West Indies – 2012 champions West Indies are the top ranked team in Group 1 and will come into the competition with confidence, having beaten Australia in their 2nd warm-up game of the tournament after losing to India in their 1st. West Indies have experienced a fall from grace in the other two formats of the game over the past decade but their power hitters have by and large kept them at the top in the T20 game. With Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo making a comeback, the Windies will definitely be a force to reckon with in this edition of the WT20.

Key Players – Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy

Player to Watch – Carlos Braithwaite

Squad – Darren Sammy (capt.), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Evin Lewis and Jerome Taylor.

Coach – Phil Simmons

South Africa – World number 3 South Africa came into the tournament following a disappointing home series loss to Australia but produced a surprise win against India in their 1st warm-up game. It seems like South Africa will only be able to get rid of their chokers tag with a World title and this may be the last opportunity for the Golden Generation of South African cricket to do so. On paper, the South African team is chock full of match winners who have never quite reached potential; the performance of AB De Villiers may ultimately decide their fate in the tournament.

Key Players – AB De Villiers, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir

Player to Watch – Kagiso Rabada

Squad – Faf du Plessis (capt.), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir and David Wiese.

Coach – Russell Domingo

England – England won their maiden World Title back in 2010, when they surprised the cricketing fraternity by winning the WT20 championship in Bridgetown. Of late, they have adopted a more attacking approach to the game and are fielding a team that has been good all-round of late. It will be interesting to see how this relatively inexperienced squad minus James Anderson and Stuart Broad perform in Indian conditions.

Key Players – Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan

Player to Watch – Adil Rashid

Squad – Eoin Morgan (capt.), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, James Vince and David Willey.

Coach – Trevor Bayliss

Sri Lanka – The defending champions Sri Lanka have suffered a huge loss of form over the last year. Since the final of the 2014 tournament, they have played 14 games, winning just 4 of them and as a result have gone from being the top ranked side in T20 cricket to #8 in a matter of months. The positive side of things is the fact that Sri Lanka have always risen to the occasion in the big tournaments on the back of some strong bowling performances, this time they will really need the batting to fire if they are to challenge the teams in Group 1; the last minute inclusion of Lahiru Thirimanne is expected to bolster the line-up.

Key Players – TM Dilshan, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga

Player to Watch – Dushmantha Chameera

Squad – Angelo Mathews (capt.), Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana and Suranga Lakmal.

Coach – Graham Ford

Afghanistan – The Afghans secured their place in the main draw with a resounding win over Zimbabwe in the qualifying round on Saturday. After their surprise omission from the Asia Cup at the hands of UAE, they come into the tournament as an Associate team most definitely capable of and determined to overthrow one of the four big teams in Group 1.

Key Players – Mohammed Nabi, Mohammed Shahzad, Asghar Stanikzai

Player to Watch – Rashid Khan

Squad – Asghar Stanikzai (capt.), Amir Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Karim Sadiq, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapoor Zadran and Usman Ghani.
 
Group 2 – India, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh

India – The pre-tournament favourites in the books of many a cricket pundit, India go into the tournament on a high and will look to be the 1st host nation to lift the trophy. They suffered a surprise loss to South Africa in the warm-ups but having lost just 1 international game out of the 11 played this year, they will not be too concerned by the loss. For the first time in a long time, India will field a bowling line-up as strong as their batting line-up and this will be the key to their campaign.

Key Players – Ravichandran Ashwin, Virat Kohli, Ashish Nehra

Player to Watch – Jasprit Bumrah

Squad – Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt.), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Mohammed Shami, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh.

Team Director – Ravi Shastri

New Zealand – New Zealand has fared poorly in the last 5 editions of the WT20 but they come into the tournament with some good form, particularly with the bat. You would expect them to miss their talismanic ex-captain Brendon McCullum in a tournament of this magnitude but guys like Corey Anderson and Colin Munroe have shown that they are more than capable of maintaining a break neck scoring rate. As always, the Black Caps will go into the tournament the black horse, a team capable of beating anyone on their day.

Key Players – Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson

Player to Watch – Adam Milne

Squad – Kane Williamson (capt.), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee and Ross Taylor.

Coach – Mike Hesson

Australia – Reigning 50 over world champions Australia have historically been an iffy team in the T20 arena and will be looking to add to their trophy cabinet in this tournament. They are coming off a convincing away series win against South Africa where their batting prowess was on show. It remains to be seen how well that form will transfer to conditions in India with the lack of a world class spinner a major worry.

Key Players – David Warner, Shane Watson, James Faulkner

Player to Watch – Mitchell Marsh

Squad – Steve Smith (capt.), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, David Warner, Shane Watson and Adam Zampa.

Coach – Darren Lehmann

Pakistan – The perennial underdogs, Pakistan come into the tournament after a disappointing Asia Cup campaign in which their only wins came against UAE and Sri Lanka. Like the Lankans, it is their batsmen who have almost always let them down while the plethora of left arm quick bowlers available to them are capable of making any total seem like a stiff one. A security fear almost kept them from travelling to India, meaning that they have had little time to adjust to conditions.

Key Players – Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz

Player to Watch – Mohammed Amir

Squad – Shahid Afridi (capt.), Anwar Ali; Imad Wasim, Khalid Latif, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz.

Coach – Waqar Younis

Bangladesh – Over the last couple of years, Bangladesh has finally managed to establish themselves in World Cricket, particularly in the limited overs formats. This year they beat Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the Asia Cup and then qualified for the main draw with a comfortable win over Oman and a closer one against the Netherlands. They come into the tournament with both their batting and bowling clicking and can no longer be considered as a team present just to make up the numbers. What has been most impressive about the Tigers is that they are no longer a team that depends solely on their superstar Shakib Al Hasan.

Key Players – Mahmudullah, Taskin Ahamed, Tamim Iqbal

Players to Watch – Mustafizur Rahman

Squad – Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (capt.), Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal and Taskin Ahmed.

Coach – Chandika Hathurushinghe
 
Conclusion
It is said that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, in the case of T20 cricket, this fact is personified. India definitely look like they will steamroll past their opponents but in a game where one over, one dismissal, one player could change the entire storyline, it is not completely impossible to imagine that one of the other teams could create an upset.
 

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