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Other SportsT20 World Cup 2024: The favourites, the dark horses and the outsiders

T20 World Cup 2024: The favourites, the dark horses and the outsiders

The T20 World Cup 2024 will be co-hosted by the USA and West Indies from June 2-29.

The 20 qualifiers have been split into four groups of five with the top-two in the group phase qualifying for the Super8s.

The top-two in each of the two groups in that stage will go through to the semi-finals before the final takes place in Barbados on June 29.

 

The groups

Group A: India, Pakistan, Ireland, USA, Canada

Group B: England, Australia, Scotland, Namibia, Oman

Group C: West Indies, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Uganda

Group D: South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Nepal

 

The favourites

India – Less than 200 days since their unfathomable 50-over World Cup final defeat on home soil, at the hands of Australia, India are back, favourites again and saying all the right things about making amends.

Is 200 days enough time to recover from such a seismic shock? Well. Time will tell. They still have skipper Rohit Sharma, they still have Jasprit Bumrah, two sure-fire match-winners. Oh, and a chap named Virat Kohli too.

Eight of the players in their 15-strong party were in the squad which lost in November and will be desperate to banish that memory with a new glorious one. It’s nearly unthinkable that it’s been 17 years since India won their only T20 World Cup.

The June 9 showdown with Pakistan in New York will catch the eyes of the world, but will India be able to make it all the way to Bridgetown for the final in Barbados 20 days later? The smart money suggests they should.

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Australia – Australia always turn up at World Cups. Their squad is packed with players who lifted the 50-over World Cup in India last autumn, even if Mitch Marsh has succeeded Pat Cummins as skipper. They also won the T20 title in 2021.

If no Steve Smith in the squad raised a few eyebrows, the lack of 22-year-old phenom Jake Fraser-McGurk raised even more.

Having broken the world record for a List A century with a 29-ball ton against Tasmania last October he enjoyed success with the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash, smashed 41 from 18 balls in his second ODI appearance for Australia against West Indies and then shone for Delhi Capitals in the IPL, making two 15-ball half-centuries, another from 19 balls and 84 from 27 deliveries against Mumbai Indians.

The heir-apparent to David Warner will have to watch from afar as the veteran opener tries to bow out from international cricket on a high.

 

England – Anything like the dismal defence of their 50-over crown in India last autumn will surely mean there’s hell to pay at the ECB.

Perhaps after seeing how the IPL played out this year, 2010 and 2022 winners England have gone with big bats in their squad, with the likes of Jos Buttler, Phil Salt and Will Jacks having lit up the IPL. You’d imagine Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Jonny Bairstow will be keen to remind people of their prodigious talents too.

Being paired with Australia in the group is always unfortunate but it’ll likely be the opening game against Scotland when England really need to hit the ground running, especially as they look underprepared, compared to most, with a weather-hit home series with Pakistan their only warm-up action. Anything other than a convincing victory on June 4 would be pretty disastrous.

Having Jofra Archer fit and firing might just provide the sort of x-factor England need to make it through to at least the semi-finals. Beyond that plenty of responsibility will fall to Sam Curran, who was player of the tournament in 2022 to try to haul them to back-to-back finals.

 

South Africa – There are not many household names in the South Africa squad but they have a favourable draw in the group and Super8s which might open the door for them to match their previous best performances – reaching the semi-finals in 2009 and 2014.

Aiden Markram skippers the side which might well include paceman Ottniel Baartman who was called up for the first time aged 31 and having never played a competitive senior T20 outside of South Africa.

His first came in a warm-up against the West Indies in Jamaica last week – he took three for 26. Quinton de Kock provides useful experience while don’t discount his fellow gloveman Ryan Rickleton from finding his groove with the bat.

 

Dark Horses

Pakistan – Every couple of years Pakistan get written off on the eve of the tournament and it seems every time they rise to the occasion.

The 2009 champions have tumbled down the rankings but were beaten in the final by England in Australia two years ago, having made the semi-finals two years earlier.

They have a new coach in Gary Kirsten and Babar Azam is back as captain while Mohammad Amir brings experience of playing around the globe – including in the Caribbean Premier League.

The Group A finale against Ireland in Florida on June 16 could be huge if India top the group as looks likely. Pakistan recovered from defeat against Zimbabwe in the group last time out, they won’t want any shocks this time around.

West Indies – Only time will tell how important home advantage will prove to the 2012 and 2016 champions.

India, Australia and England have all lost T20 series in the Caribbean in recent years although the co-hosts will be without the retired Sunile Narine and Jason Holder, who suffered an injury during a stint with Worcestershire in the County Championship.

They do have potentially explosive performers in their ranks in the likes of Shamar Joseph, who burst onto the scene on the tour of Australia in January, and Shimron Hetmyer, recalled after being axed from the 2022 squad.

 

New Zealand – the beaten finalists in 2021 have the most experienced squad in the entire competition.

Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner have all made more than a century of T20 appearances for their country while at the other end of the scale 24-year-old Rachin Ravindra is their least experienced player but has had a stellar eight months at the 50-over World Cup and the IPL.

A dozen of Kane Williamson’s 15-man squad were also in the party at Lord’s for that fateful day which will surely only fuel their desire.

 

Outsiders

On paper it’s tough to see beyond the eight big names when it comes to making a run at the Super8 stage, but when was cricket ever played on paper?

Stuart Law’s USA are making their first appearance after qualifying as hosts but have shown some pedigree, whitewashing neighbours Canada 4-0 in April and then edging an eye-catching 2-1 series win against Bangladesh. The draw has not been kind but former Kiwi Corey Anderson is one to watch and they could give Pakistan and Ireland a run for their money in Group A if everything falls into place.

Scotland went through the Euro qualifiers unbeaten, finishing ahead of Ireland, and are the top-ranked associate nation at the World Cup, sitting 12th. They famously beat West Indies by 42 runs in Hobart last time out, but they’ll likely need to stun England or Australia in order to qualify for the next stage from Group B.

Afghanistan are a bit of an unknown quantity going into this. They did beat England in the 50-over World Cup before Christmas and several of their key men from that day are in this squad too. Rashid Khan skippers the side while Rahmanullah Gurbaz will take the gloves. They can call upon plenty of hitters and plenty of spinners. Group C rivals West Indies and New Zealand should beware.

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