The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently released the schedule for the 2021 T20 World Cup. The event will be held in the UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14. The tournament will begin with a Round 1 encounter between hosts Oman and Papua New Guinea. The Round 1 matches will end on October 22 and the top two teams from the two groups – A and B – will proceed to the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup, which will begin on October 23. The top two sides from the Super 12 groups will then proceed to the semi-finals. With the schedule for the matches released, we preview five matches to watch out for in the T20 World Cup.
1. Sri Lanka vs Ireland – October 20 in Abu Dhabi
Sri Lanka and Ireland are both part of Round 1 and will need to progress from here to make the Super 12 stage. Till a few years back, one could not have envisaged that the former T20 World Cup champions would have to get past teams like Namibia, Ireland and the Netherlands to proceed to the main round of the tournament. But the truth is stranger than fiction. Sri Lanka have nosedived badly in recent years. They can be expected to get past Namibia and Netherlands. However, Ireland could prove to be a proverbial banana peel for the Lankans. Ireland have players who can upset strong teams in T20Is. So they are no pushovers for any side and could give Sri Lanka a real headache.
2. Australia vs South Africa – October 23 in Abu Dhabi
The rivalry between Australia and South Africa may not be the same as it was in the 90s and the early 2000s. But the Proteas are one side you can never write off. They have a more than decent side in T20s with big hitters in Quinton de Kock, David Miller and a few upcoming talents. Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi can be a handful with the ball while Tabraiz Shamsi is a decent spin option. Australia will be buoyed by the return of David Warner and Steve Smith. With the ball, Pat Cummins, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa can make life difficult for South Africa.
3. England vs West Indies – October 23 in Dubai
A lot has changed since West Indies stunned England in the 2016 T20 World Cup final. Carlos Brathwaite, who hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes has failed to build on his success. Stokes, on the other hand, has gone on to establish himself as one of the best all-rounders in the game. England and West Indies both have power-hitters in their team in the likes of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell among others. If the pitch is a decent one, fans could be in for a six-hitting fest.
4. India vs Pakistan – October 24 in Dubai
Do we really need a reason to watch an Indo-Pak clash? It is arguably the greatest and the most intense rivalry in world cricket. The last time India and Pakistan met in the 2019 World Cup, Babar Azam was one of the batters in the team. He is now the captain and their main batsman and has also been inviting comparisons with his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli. For Pakistan, Mohammad Amir may not be around so it would be interesting to see if Shaheen Afridi can produce the goods against the likes of Kohli, Rohit and KL Rahul.
5. India vs New Zealand – October 31 in Dubai
New Zealand is one team India has struggled against quite badly in ICC events. In fact, India haven’t beaten the Kiwis in an ICC event since 2003. New Zealand stunned India in the 2016 T20 World Cup group match on a turning track and then in the 2019 World Cup semi-final on a seaming surface. India will be keen to set the record straight in the upcoming clash.