By: Keyur Seta
The most interesting feature about the ongoing World T20 2016 or the T20 World Cup is that it is extremely difficult to predict a winner. Especially after New Zealand’s victory over India and Australia and England’s near-miracle chase of 230 against South Africa, it looks like anybody’s tournament.
However, I would still like to go ahead and offer a prediction. I strongly feel that South Africa is the strong favorite to win this World Cup. I know some of you might give daily soap reactions to this after their defeat against England, not-so-convincing win against Afghanistan and their history of being ‘chokers’. Some ultra-nationalists might even label me ‘anti-national’.
But do have a look at the reasons below:-
Batting line-up: South Africa might have lost yesterday’s match but we can’t ignore the fact that they scored as many as 229 runs in 20 overs. This was possible due to their long and dangerous batting line-up that fired in a key match. When you have Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB De Villiers, Faf du Plessis and David Miller as your top five and that too in good form, the opposition is set to experience a nightmare. Although ABD didn’t score well yesterday, his greatness needs no proof.
Bowling line-up: Things can go terribly wrong in a high-scoring T20 match on a flat wicket and I feel that is exactly what happened with South Africa against England and, to some extent, Afghanistan. I don’t expect an impressive bowling line-up of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abott to falter regularly. But the trump card for the Proteas, especially on Indian pitches, is Imran Tahir. The leg-spinner’s outstanding bowling figures of 4-0-28-1 went unnoticed with the focus being on England’s victory. Plus, they have the likes of Duminy as well who can be more than useful in Indian conditions.
Experience in India: This is a big reason for me considering SA as the favorite. Players with experience in Indian conditions and on Indian pitches always have an upper hand in such world tournaments. In the case of the Proteas, almost every player from their team has played regularly in India, either during tours or the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Venue Factor: We shouldn’t forget that SA has played both its matches on a super flat Wankhede wicket, which is not going to be the case with the rest of their matches. If there is some assistance for either pacers or spinners, this team will look dangerous. This might well be case of them striking when it matters the most.
New Zealand: The Kiwis have proved in their first two matches that they are strong contenders to win the World T20. Beating teams like India and Australia is a mammoth achievement indeed. But when it comes to winning big crunch matches, they have mostly faltered in the past; not to forget their abysmal performance in the 2015 World Cup Final.
Australia: Despite losing their very first match in the World T20, the Aussies, in my opinion, are still the top three favorites to lift the trophy. Their team is full of T20 specialists, who can turn the match on their day. It’s just that their recent lack of form (losing 3-0 against India in their backyard) that can keep them away from final glory. Just today, they had a tough time even against Bangladesh. But if they do manage to reach the semi-finals, it would be difficult to stop them from laying their hands on the coveted trophy.
What about India?
The top three favorites (as mentioned above) can prove to be too much for Team India. Although they have made amends for their humiliating defeat against New Zealand by beating Pakistan handsomely, I still don’t feel they are good enough to be the world champions. Their chances depend a lot on how they perform against Australia on March 27 at Mohali.
P.S:– Needless to say, I would love to be proved wrong.