Tigers in “Group of Death’ in World T20
Teams in group: India, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh
Hosts India go into the Super 10 phase of the ICC World T20 as overwhelming favourites but to win the title on home soil will have to see them fight their way out of what looms as the “Group of Death’.India will have to battle past Australia, New Zealand, the dark horses Bangladesh and their arch-rivals Pakistan to qualify for the semifinals.
It will not be an easy task but India boasts some of the world’s finest limited-overs players in their ranks.Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has rightfully earned his reputation as one of the best finishers in world cricket but it is the younger members of the batting line-up that have the ability to set the tournament alight.
Virat Kohli is the key player around which the rest of the batting line-up takes its cue while Rohit Sharma, who is the only man to score two double-hundreds in the one-day international cricket, is a real danger at the top of the order.
The bowling attack is no less formidable and the spin trio of Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will all have a role to play on wickets that are expected to favour the slower bowlers over the fast men.
Pakistan remain an enigma. Their participation in the tournament was in the balance right up to the last minute because of political wrangling while they were dumped out of the recent Asia Cup after winning just two of their four games and missing out on a place in the final to Bangladesh.
Despite all the turmoil around Pakistan it would be unwise for any opponent to take them lightly. The return to action of left-arm fast bowler Mohammed Amir provides Pakistan with a formidable new-ball option while the match against India in Kolkata on March 18 will certainly provide Pakistan with a massive incentive to turn over their rivals.
Australia may only be ranked fifth on the official ICC T20 international rankings but they are rated as joint second-favourites to claim the World T20 title.
Australia possess an impressive batting line-up with David Warner and Glenn Maxwell a formidable pair in the middle-order with both men having the ability to win any game with the bat while allrounder James Faulkner is a wonderful finisher, with the bat or ball, his back of the hand slower ball is a thing of beauty, and his all–round ability may just give Australia an edge over their rivals. However, Australia do not have a well-established spinner in their squad and that could come back to haunt them.
New Zealand have moved on from the days when they were plucky underdogs and now are, deservedly, regarded as one of the most efficient teams in world cricket.
Skipper Kane Williamson is one of the most accomplished batsman in world cricket, in all formats, while Trent Boult and Tim Southee are one of the better new-ball pairs in world cricket.New Zealand however, will have to cope with the recent retirement of the influential Brendon McCullum and may, like Australia, struggle without a world-class spinner in their ranks.
Bangladesh are battle-hardened after fighting their way through the qualifiers and no team will relish playing them.Twenty-year-old left-arm quick Mustafizur Rahman is one of the most exciting young fast bowlers in world cricket while Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah have added some stability to what used to be a fragile batting line-up.
The all-round skills of Shakib Al Hasan provides the Bangladesh team with some much-needed balance.