The World Twenty20 2016 is a tough puzzle to solve with plenty of teams in with a chance of lifting the trophy. The picture will be a lot clearer when international cricket’s finest players of the short format game take to the field in India from the 8th of March onwards, particularly after the result of the Asia Cup is known, but we think there’s a bit of value in backing Sri Lanka to defend their title at a huge price.
The competition has been held five times since the inaugural tournament in South Africa in 2007, and no less than five different teams have won it. No side has managed to take the title twice up to now, and no home nation has ever won it on their own soil. India were the first victors in South Africa, Pakistan won it in England in 2009, and the English went on to win it the following year in the West Indies. The Windies then won the next World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, who in turn went on to take the competition the last time it was played in 2014 in Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka are the most successful World Twenty20 side with three final appearances, followed by India and Pakistan who have reached the tournament climax on two occasions each. Neither South Africa nor New Zealand have ever made it as far as the final, while Australia have made just the one appearance – in the defeat to England in 2009.
The tournament will be held in India from the 8th of March to the 3rd of April, with sixteen teams taking part. The ten full members of the International Cricket Council qualify by virtue of that status, while a further six teams came through qualifying.
The ‘Super Eight’ of India, England, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and West Indies, will be joined by two of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Oman, Scotland, Ireland, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Afganistan, with the latter eight teams separated into two groups of four. These groups (A and B) will play a round robin format with the winners of each group joining the top eight in the second round which consists of two groups of five (groups 1 and 2). Another round robin format ensues, and the top two in each group will progress to the semi finals. The groups are as follows:
Group B Winner
Group A Winner
No home side has ever been victorious in a World Twenty20 and that should be enough to set the alarm bells ringing. India beat Australia 3-0 in January in a recent T20 series despite being thrashed in the one-day series, and went on to beat Sri Lanka 2-1 in the home T20 series. They are currently ranked as the number one T20 side in the world, but the way they were bowled out for 101 by a second-string Sri Lanka during that recent series is a cause for concern. India are the powerhouse of the region and the tournament, but at the price are easily passed over.
South Africa might be a fair bit longer at the odds but for the recent upturn in form which saw them win the last three ODI’s against England to take the series 3-2, and go on to assert their authority by winning two T20 matches against the same side. There’s no doubt that the 2nd best T20 team in the rankings have the talent though, and Quinton de Kock’s return to form against the English is very timely.
Former Australian bowler Ryan Harris labelled the World Twenty20 as ‘a waste of time‘ recently, and it is questionable how well his country will be prepared for the tournament. There is a desire within Australian cricket to win this competition for the first time, but they have had precious few T20 games over the last couple of years and their record in this format is nothing short of shocking.
England won over many a fan with the Ashes victory of last summer, but the ODI world cup display of early 2015 is not easily forgotten. They performed brilliantly to win the test series on this winter’s tour of South Africa, but were put back in their place by the Proteas with resounding ODI and T20 defeats. There is plenty of ability in this young England squad, but not so much experience and captain Eoin Morgan is aware of the size of the task facing his team.
A Wide Open Tournament
Sri Lanka have been largely ignored by the layers, and could represent a cracking value punt at +1600 with Skybet if they can get back to their best form in the upcoming Asia Cup.
The good news for Sri Lanka is that a host of players are returning to the squad from injury, and they have the experience to have a good tilt at the title. Lasith Malinga makes his return from injury to lead the team in both the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20, and he will be complimented by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. The bowler’s last T20 international was the final against India in the 2014 World T20. Angelo Matthews, the test and one-day skipper, makes his return having recovered from a groin injury, while experienced pace bowler Nuwan Kulasekara is also included.
If the Sri Lanka side can blow off the cobwebs in the Asia Cup over the next week or two, they could be well set for the World Twenty20 and such big prices won’t be flying around so easily.
Sri Lanka to win the World Twenty20
8th March – 3rd April 2016
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