Ian Chappell – Expect usual favourites to go far in the 2022 T20 World Cup, but brace for upsets

T20 cricket is all about close finishes and tight games. However, brutal losses to the West Indies and Sri Lanka, with the former’s miserable failure to reach the second round, are a reminder that T20 also produces upsets.

There are likely to be more surprises as the major section of the T20 World Cup gets underway. The unpredictable and awful weather Australia has been experiencing recently must also be a factor.

Australia are the defending T20 World Cup champions and they, along with India, England and Pakistan, are the most likely candidates to reach the semi-finals. However, it’s worth remembering the tendency for upsets to occur in T20s and factoring in the longer boundaries and packed Australian pitches.

A successful team must exploit not only the extra bounce but also encourage the opponents to hit the longer boundaries. Looking for a likely winner, focus on balanced pace attacks that feature wicket-taking spinners in a team that puts up viable totals.

Australia, defending their crown at home, have the ingredients for success in their own country. Their batting is long and explosive and their bowling covers all the bases. However, Aaron Finch’s shaky form as a player and how well they do will affect Australia’s progress. If these performances are acceptable, then a place in the finals is within Australia’s reach.

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In Group 2, the clash between India and Pakistan is not only a mouth-watering duel, it could also determine who can challenge South Africa for a place in the semi-finals. India have a huge battle on the bouncy pitch in Perth against South Africa and this is South Africa’s best chance to upset one of the favorites in that group. Pakistan are fortunate to play South Africa at the more spin-friendly SCG. The outcome of those matches could decide the balance of power in that division.

While India have a strong playing group, their players also benefit from the development in a highly competitive IPL tournament. Their practice matches in Australia will have given India an opportunity to acclimatise to the local conditions.

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A successful team must exploit not only the extra bounce but also encourage the opponents to hit the longer boundaries. Balanced pace attacks containing wicket-taking spinners will be key

India’s batting fortunes are shared more evenly and Suryakumar Yadav’s brilliant form saves them from relying too much on Virat Kohli. The success or otherwise of their spinners and whether Hardik Pandya can hit the longer boundaries will play a big role for India.

Pakistan don’t have many superstar names but they have a solid squad. Their progress will largely depend on the opening partnership between Babar Azam and the aggressive Mohammad Rizwan. They also need opening bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi to be fully fit and perform well. If Afridi is in top form, Pakistan have the bowling combination to fully test India. Their progress will come down to Pakistan’s batting consistency, their fielding and their cohesion, which can often be suspect.

Despite major injury issues, England have chosen wisely by fielding a number of successful BBL players. Whatever kind of upset Alex Hales causes, his selection was a practical choice given his previous success in Australia. The game and ability to cope with the Australian conditions will be important, but England have the talent to sneak past New Zealand in their group and qualify for the semi-finals.

The T20 formula suggests that South Africa could be a surprise outfit, but their batting and previous World Cup history is dire. If Quinton de Kock has an outstanding tournament and carries the batting, then South Africa’s excellent bowling will give them a chance.

And therein lies one of the weaknesses of T20 cricket: in a short game, one individual can have an unnatural effect on the overall result. This helps make it difficult to pick a winner, but the guts say an Australia vs India final is likely. However, beware of the tournament-altering upset.


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