x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Team-by-team breakdown of World Twenty20 cricket: Group 2

Despite the absence of the injured Mitchell Johnson, Australia is still the hottest team in world cricket and Osman Samiuddin feels they are serious contenders for a first major ICC title since 2009.

Australian batsman David Warner plays a shot during the ICC World Twenty20 tournament's warm up cricket match between Australia and New Zealand at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah, on the outskirts of Dhaka on March 19, 2014. Munir uz Zaman / AFP
Australian batsman David Warner plays a shot during the ICC World Twenty20 tournament's warm up cricket match between Australia and New Zealand at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah, on the outskirts of Dhaka on March 19, 2014. Munir uz Zaman / AFP

AUSTRALIA

The hottest team in world cricket.

Granted this is an entirely different format and their team and the teams they face are different to the two sides with which they made such compelling viewing in Tests over the past few months.

There is also the absence of the injured Mitchell Johnson. But there is enough feel-good momentum about the side to make them serious contenders for a first major ICC title since 2009.

Prediction: Australia have often struggled in the format but something about them looks right this time.

They are on a roll, with a nice mix of personnel. The group is tough but they can come out of it. Winners.

Hit: When he started he was seen as a Twenty20 player only, but David Warner has evolved into a more rounded beast since those early days.

He is still fully ­capable ripping apart an attack over 20 overs and he will do it at least once here.

Miss: Could this be one tournament too far for Brad Hogg? In his earlier days, Hogg’s chinaman bowling style worked well in ODIs: he was difficult to read, was attacking and successful.

But in Twenty20 he has not worked out so well and been expensive to boot.

WEST INDIES

Their win in the last World Twenty20 was among the most popular triumphs at a world event by any side in recent years.

They arrive with a swagger befitting of the defending champions and of the great West Indian sides. They are fairly settled, too, with just three changes from that title-winning squad. One absence though, of Kieron Pollard with injury, may prove to be a critical one.

Prediction: Though they have a strong side, this is the group of death and it will come down to a few balls that decide which two go through.

As a punt, they may miss out. Group stage.

Hit: There are a few spinners to look out for in this tournament, but alongside Saeed Ajmal, there must be Sunil Narine.

He might be the single most difficult spinner to consistently hit for boundaries (his economy rate is under six).

Miss: Ravi Rampaul has done well for West Indies over recent years.

But he has never shed the impression that he is the spearhead they must make do with, not the one they would like to have. Nearing 30 and heavier of build than ever, he could struggle.

INDIA

Here is a remarkable statistic. India have played only one Twenty20 international since the start of 2013. Only Nepal and Hong Kong have played as few.

Granted they have had one whole Indian Premier League (IPL) season but that was in April last year. They will be the rustiest of all full members when they begin today against Pakistan. Logically it should hamper their efforts here.

Prediction: Since winning the inaugural World Twenty20 India have been abysmal in the rest, failing to make it to the last four even once.

It is unlikely they will do so now. Group stage.

Hit: All those jokes all those years ago about Ravindra Jadeja stopped sounding funny last year. He is a catalyst for India these days, especially in the shorter games.

On these pitches his spin will work wonders and his hitting is suited to the smaller boundaries. Throw in electric fielding and what a cricketer.

Miss: For so long Suresh Raina was the symbol of the coming India. Now he is a symbol of India’s batting failures.

He has been in such poor form that he was dropped from the ODI side. Though he ­retains his place in this format, ­expectations are not high.

PAKISTAN

Something about the unpredictability of this format and the inherent unpredictability of Pakistan make for a potent mix.

Pakistan have serious pedigree at this event, having won it once, made the final once and the semis twice.

They are yet to not make the last four in a World Twenty20. Despite the toughness of the group they should squeak through.

Prediction: Funnily enough, Pakistan may not have the bowling in this tournament to win it and that is something you do not say of them often. Semi-final.

Hit: After a number of indifferent years, Umar Akmal seems to have relocated what it was that made him so exciting back in 2009.

He has come to terms with his dual role as wicketkeeper and No 6 batsman and remains, even now, the best shot-maker in the Pakistan squad.

Miss: Nearly seven years ago, Sohail Tanvir made his name at the inaugural World Twenty20.

He has since deteriorated rapidly, his bowling too predictable, his batting redundant.

His recent form makes it surprising he was picked at all.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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