The 2021 edition of the Indian T20 League has come to a conclusion, but the carnival does not end for cricket enthusiasts, as it is now time for the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. This will be the seventh edition of the competition that is being staged after a long gap of five years.
Unlike the previous edition, the 2021 instalment is a more inclusive one, as the second round will comprise of 12 teams instead of 10. The teams are pretty well-balanced, and with one of the host nations not playing and the other host nation being Oman, who are unlikely to be in title contention, this is bound to be a very open and enthralling tournament.
Ahead of the Super 12 stages, let us have a detailed look at the five most formidable teams in the T20 World Cup 2021:
The first mention on our list might surprise some, but there are multiple reasons why Pakistan are being dubbed as dark horses for this competition.
Pakistan’s last T20I series was against West Indies in July-August of this year. Three of the four matches were abandoned, while Pakistan won the only match of the series that was completed, in Providence.
Prior to that, Pakistan played seven T20Is against South Africa between February and April of this year – three in Pakistan and four in South Africa. Pakistan won five of those matches.
The other reason behind their name popping up on this list is their squad composition. Pakistan have one of the strongest opening pairs in the format in this tournament in Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Their pace trio of Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali could do wonders, while the likes of Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan are not only good spinners, but they also can produce runs with the bat.
Pakistan are also very familiar with the conditions on offer in UAE, having made the country their de facto home for several years.
After winning the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship by beating India earlier this year, New Zealand will look to get their hands on the T20 World Cup. Like Pakistan, their form in the shortest format of the match has been impressive.
Between March and September of this year, the Blackcaps played eight matches against Bangladesh. Three of those matches were played in New Zealand, and Kane Williamson’s team won all three. Despite facing extremely challenging conditions at Dhaka, and also fielding a second-string team, they won two of the remaining five matches.
Coming to their squad, New Zealand will be dependent on their pace trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson – all of whom have done well in the recently-concluded Indian T20 League. Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Devon Conway are the key batters, while Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are the two spinners they will be counting on.
India have won all of the four T20I series they have played since 2020. Their last T20I series was against England, where India registered a 3-2 series triumph. Prior to that, India played three T20I matches against Australia in December of last year.
The Men in Blue won that series by a margin of 2-1. As for their squad composition, the top four of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav could intimidate any bowling unit.
Ravindra Jadeja’s form will be a major boost for India, while Jasprit Bumrah has been excellent in the UAE leg of the Indian T20 League. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s poor run of form is a matter of concern, but India do have an in-form replacement available in Shardul Thakur.
The most successful team of this tournament has got a good chance of lifting the trophy for the third time. They have a fantastic top three in Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons and Chris Gayle. All of those batters have got the ability to win a match single-handedly for their team on their day.
Shimron Hetmyer has been in good form in the Indian T20 League, while Andre Russell is also back in the nets. Bowling might be a slight concern, but Ravi Rampaul has rediscovered himself in the last edition of Caribbean T20 League, while Obed McCoy has also done well with the ball recently.
As for their current form, West Indies lost their last T20I match against Pakistan, but they won four of the five matches they played against Australia, back in June this year.
England won the last edition of the 50-over World Cup, and there is no reason to not consider them as favourites to win the ongoing T20 World Cup. They have an excellent top four of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow.
Eoin Morgan’s form, or the complete lack of it, is certainly a concern for England, but the presence of Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali can relieve some pressure off the skipper’s shoulders.
Chris Woakes is likely to bat at number nine for them, which highlights their batting depth. In Chris Jordan, England have a terrific death bowler as well. As for their current form, their last T20I series was against Sri Lanka, earlier this year. The Three Lions won all three matches of that series.