Team-by-team guide to rival contenders hoping to wreck England’s trophy hopes

22nd October, 2022.      //   Sport and Leisure  // 

 (AFP via Getty Images)

After all the fun of the first round, it’s down to the serious business at the T20 World Cup as the Super 12 stage commences this weekend.

England take on Afghanistan in their first Group 1 encounter in Perth tomorrow, boosted by a timely return to white-ball form after the Test team initially carried the mantle this summer.

However, Jos Buttler and Co will have to do without the services of fast bowler Reece Topley, who has been ruled out for the tournament with an ankle injury suffered during a fielding drill in training this week. All the usual big guns are present for the Super 12s bar one notable absentee in West Indies, the two-time winners ousted in shock fashion after defeats by Scotland and Ireland.

Australia

Surprise triumph in the UAE 12 months ago was a prime example of their prowess at global events and the volatile unpredictability of T20 cricket. Look a better team than the one written off last year, with franchise star Tim David added and Josh Hazlewood now the world’s leading T20 bowler. Form of Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch are concerns, though, and they were well beaten by England in warm-ups. Still, rightful favourites.

India

Appear to have the most talented squad at the tournament, but have a hump to get over, having not won it since the first edition in 2007. Failed to make semis in the UAE but shackles have since been thrown off a sensational batting line-up under skipper Rohit Sharma, while Virat Kohli is back in the runs and Suryakumar Yadav the world’s form batter. Seam bowling is the one area of concern, with Jasprit Bumrah injured.

Pakistan

Beaten 4-3 by an England side missing several players in a thrilling series recently, but have all the ingredients if things click, including a gun pace attack bolstered by the fit-again Shaheen Afridi and, in Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, the most reliable opening pair in the tournament. Concerns remain about batting depth and middle-order power, as well as — as ever — slack fielding.

South Africa

Missed out on semi-final place on net-run-rate last year, but won in England this summer. A strong showing is expected, even if the debate over whether captain Temba Bavuma is worth his place is a noisy distraction. There is destruction — Rilee Rossouw, David Miller — and class — Aiden Markram — in an exciting batting line-up, with the pace of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada likely to be crucial.

New Zealand

Perennial bridesmaids. Runners-up last year and in the 2019 50-over tournament, the Black Caps retain a familiar core that could easily contend, but the fear is that an ageing side’s time may have been and gone, typified by Kane Williamson’s decline. Looked well-suited to edging tight games in UAE but less so if the runs pile up in Australia, particularly with last year’s hero Daryl Mitchell something of an unknown on return from injury.

Afghanistan

Seem a little stuck in the chasm between the associate nations and the big boys. Expected to ruffle feathers in favourable conditions in the UAE 12 months ago, but were well beaten by Pakistan, India and New Zealand. Talisman Rashid Khan again leads a fine spin attack with a fair chunk of Big Bash experience, but difficult to see where the runs are going to come from across five games, even if they could spring an upset along the way.

Bangladesh

Qualified directly for this stage by virtue of their ranking almost 12 months ago, but difficult to make a case for them being in the best eight teams in the world. Weakened by retirements since losing every game in the Super 12 at last year’s tournament and go into Monday’s opener against the Netherlands on a run of five straight defeats. Remain hugely dependent on all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

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