Gundappa Vishwanath, a former Indian cricketer, says, “India has got a good chance of winning the championship. India has a very good batting strength.” The shorter format of the game, T20 is primarily known as the batsman's game. The Indian team has always been known for their batting line-up, which is one of the best in the world. But, the same cannot be said for the Indian bowlers. Roger Binny, another former Indian cricketer agrees with it and says, “Bowling is the weakest link of the Indian team. But the batting makes up for it.” The Indian team would be dependent on many players such as Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, Kohli for their batting exploits and help India win the tournament. But there are other teams in the reckoning as well.
Vishwanath agrees says, “India, England and South Africa have a balanced side for the championship.” England would be unfortunate to miss out on one of their best players, Kevin Pietersen, who has been left out of the England squad. His inclusion would have made their team even more stronger, still they have a good balance between their batsmen and bowlers. S. Broad, Tim Bresnan, Luke Wright, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb should hold the key for the English team, if they are to retain their title. It would not be surprising if South Africa would walk away with the title this time around with the number of quality players at their disposal. Players such as AB De Villiers, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel have proved themselves in the T20 format throughout the world.
Sri Lanka would be one of the toughest teams to beat in the competition, as they would have a huge home crowd support. The Sri Lankans know these conditions well and know how best to tackle such conditions. Even if they were not playing under home conditions, they would be looked upon as one of the strong teams with the number of quality players representing the island nation. Lots are expected from Dilshan, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Perera and Malinga in the competition.
“India and Australia are the favourites to win the T20 World Cup,” says Binny. The Australian team must be eager to win this competition, which they have never won in the past. They have the required players in the squad to take them all the way. David Warner, Cameroon White, Shane Watson, David Hussey are strong hitters of the cricket ball, which is important in this format. These players can easily clear the fence, when the need arises. Their bowling department also has some big names such as Patrick Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus etc. Defeating this Aussie team would not be an easy task. “Australia have the firepower in their team. They have those players to perform in the bigger stage,” says Binny.
Though some other experts have come out in the open and declared their favourites. Sourav Ganguly expects West Indies to be a front runner for the title race. They may not have a great record of late, but they have players, which are best suited for this format namely, Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle, Kemar Roach, S. Naraine, Andre Russell. Their exploits in the Indian Premier League are enough to make their opponents sweat. Another former cricketer, Wasim Akram picks Pakistan as favourites. Pakistan is such a team that can never be counted out, for they can come up with surprising performances. On a given day, they can be unbeatable, provided their players stand true to their talent, which is in abundance in their team. Players such as Afridi, Razzaq, Imran Nazir are testimonial to the said fact.
It is surprising that the New Zealand side has not been talked about as favourites, as they have a squad capable of defeating top teams of the competitions as well. We cannot afford to count them out. Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori are experienced players in international cricket, who would give it their all to win the championship.
But one has to remember that it is very difficult to chose a favourite for the championship. It is not like a Test match, where there are less chances of a minnow team defeating a top ranked team. In the T20 format, any team can beat any other team. The team which plays well on a given day has a greater chance of winning the match. Vishwanath says, “It is anybody's game. It (the format) is different. 2 overs can change a game.”
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