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Why Australia, England and India are top contenders for coveted trophy

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Why Australia, England and India are top contenders for coveted trophy

<br>The eighth edition of T20 World Cup is going to be an exciting affair with 16 teams playing 45 matches in seven Australian cities between October 16 and November 13. Hosts Australia are the defending champions and they will be keen to retain their title on home soil. However, the likes of England and India will be their biggest challenges.

No doubt, there are Sri Lanka, Pakistan (winner and runner-up of Asia Cup, respectively) who have also played impressive cricket in the build up to the World Cup, but it will be interesting to see if they can maintain the momentum in high-pressure events like the World Cup.

Australia, England and India also had their fair share of hiccups before the World Cup, but these professional teams know what it takes to deliver at the big stage. As the mega event is all set to begin, Ajit Weekly News takes a look at the aspects which make them top contenders to lift the trophy at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 13.

Australia

While Australia’s recent T20I form has been indifferent as they lost to England in the home T20I series, one shouldn’t be surprised to see the reigning champions click when the action matters.

Remember, not much was expected of Australia ahead of last year’s event and the Aussies were actually thrashed by England midway through the Super 12. But the Aaron Finch-led side found form at the right time to claim their first T20 World Cup title.

Like last year, when David Warner was in fine form and scored majority of the runs for the team, this time too the team will be heavily dependent on the southpaw for a brisk start, especially when his opening partner Aaron Finch is going through a lean spell of late.<br> <br>Warner has a special ability to score quickly and put the opposition under pressure and it’s also very rare for the left-hander to score well and the Aussies to lose, so don’t be surprised to see the tournament hosts ride his coat-tails for as long as they can this time around.

Apart from Warner, last year’s heroes of the semifinal and final — Matthew Wade and Mitch Marsh — will be crucial for Australia. However, the hosts need to find a few answers about their best playing XI heading into the big event.

There is a mystery around whether star batter Steve Smith will feature much for the Aussies on home soil and the indifferent form of Finch and Glenn Maxwell, as well as the injury battles of Mitch Marsh and Marcus Stoinis, mean it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the tournament hosts.

Unlike their batting, Australia’s bowling line-up looks well settled, in-form and ready. While the veteran duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will lead the way, Test skipper Pat Cummins and vastly underrated spinner Adam Zampa are just as important and will all play pivotal roles during the four-week tournament.

The Aussies will also be hoping that one of their many all-rounders to step up and contribute with both bat and ball. It could be Maxwell – or even Marsh or Stoinis – but the surprise package could be new boy Tim David, who has already shown his big-hitting skills.

Overall, there is certainly enough firepower in this Australia line-up for them to make it two T20 World Cup titles on the trot and the pressure of playing on home soil is unlikely to worry their star-studded squad.

England

Skipper Jos Buttler has all the tools at his disposal — especially a fiery batting line-up and an army of quality all-rounders — to win the trophy after 10 years.

It was Paul Collingwood under whom England team played fierce brand of cricket to win the 2010 edition of the T20 World Cup in the West Indies. This time, the focus will be on Buttler, who is one of the most feared batters in the T20 format, with many hailing him as the best.

Despite the additional responsibilities that come with captaincy, Buttler will view the tournament as a big opportunity to stamp his authority as the leader, as England move away from the Eoin Morgan era.

Buttler’s best bet to do that would be to lead from the front with the bat, setting the tone at the start of the innings as he so often does. His partnership with Alex Hales at the top will be of vital importance, especially in the absence of Jonny Bairstow. The captain’s performance, both as a batter and a leader, will dictate how England’s campaign pans out Down Under.

With plenty of power-hitters, England’s batting order is the envy of many teams. When on song, Buttler, Hales, Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali are some of the most dangerous players in the world. Harry Brook has emerged as an excellent prospect while Dawid Malan can play the role of anchor to perfection. England also bat deeper than most.

The likes of Ali, Stokes and Livingstone can also chip in with the ball, while their frontline bowlers like David Willey, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are no mugs with the bat.

However, the team would undoubtedly be hit by the absence of Jonny Bairstow, who would have added more firepower to the batting department. There are also worries in the bowling department, with a massive Jofra Archer-sized hole. Mark Wood and Chris Woakes are excellent performers, but will return after a long injury lay-off. Death bowling has also been an issue in the past and Reece Topley, Chris Jordan and Sam Curran will have to step up to ensure that the team doesn’t leak too many runs in the slog overs.

All in all, England have as strong a line-up as any team in the tournament and they have been rightly called as one of the pre-tournament favourites heading into the World Cup.

India

India, the world’s top-ranked T20 side, will look for a much better showing than their group-stage elimination in 2021. Fans of Indian cricket are hoping to see the the Rohit Sharma-led side lift its second World T20 trophy, 15 years after the first victory at the inaugural edition in South Africa back in 2007.

In absence of pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and star-allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, India’s bowling certainly looks weak and their star-studded batting line-up will have to take extra responsibility and put some extra runs on the board to give that cushion to the bowlers.

The likes of K.L. Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have the ability to win games single-handedly and the fate of India’s campaign very much relies on them.

Eyes will also be on India’s late-blooming middle-order batter — Suryakumar Yadav — who is currently in a league of his own when it comes to scoring briskly. A player with all the shots, SKY has an astounding strike rate of 176.81 across his 34 T20I appearances.

The 32-year-old is going to be fiddle of the batting while the likes of Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik are expected to do the finishing job for India. Pandya didn’t bowl much during the last World Cup due to his injury and it certainly disturbed the team balance. So a fitter Pandya along with all-rounder Axar Patel will be key for India this time around.

Undoubtedly, the absence of Bumrah is a blow but India will have to forget that and others will have to fill in that big shoe. Mohammad Shami has replaced Bumrah in the India squad and the expectations will be high from him.

The veteran has not featured in T20Is since the last T20 World Cup, but he played a crucial role in Gujarat Titan’s triumph in their maiden season in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Team India would expect the same from him.

Apart from Shami, the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh are the other pacers and they would want to extract some extra bounce on Australian pitches and trouble the batters. The focus will be on India’s death bowling which has troubled them the most in the recent past.

Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel will get the advantage of bigger boundaries in Australia and the team will rely on them for crucial wickets during the middle overs.

Overall, India have a decent line-up and their star-studded batting order make them one of the contenders to win the trophy.

–Ajit Weekly News<br>avn/arm


News Credits – I A N S

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