The 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup is all set to get underway in the UAE and Oman from October 17. The event, which was earlier to be held in India, had to be shifted to another venue due to COVID-19. The BCCI, however, has retained the hosting rights of the event. The event will begin with Round 1, which will see eight teams, including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, fight for four Super 12 spots. The top eight sides automatically qualified for the Super 12s. They are India, Pakistan, Australia, England, West Indies, Afghanistan, South Africa and New Zealand. In this feature, we look at the top contenders to win the T20 World Cup crown this year.
2010 champions England will be among the top contenders to win the T20 World Cup crown. The defending champions in the 50-over edition, England will be missing some of their key players like Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran. However, they have plenty of firepower to trouble the other sides. Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler are two of their fiercest hitters of the cricket ball while Jason Roy is amazing at the top of the order. The form of Eoin Morgan is a big worry. In the bowling, they have a versatile attack with the likes of Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.
The last time Team India won the T20 World Cup was during the inaugural edition in 2007. MS Dhoni was the captain of the team back then while Virat Kohli was yet to make his international debut. Now, Kohli heads into his maiden T20 World Cup as captain, which will also be his farewell event as a leader in the T20 format. Dhoni is also back in the scheme of things as a mentor. In Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, India have the finest all-format players while Varun Chakravarthy and Axar Patel’s form in the IPL has been highly encouraging. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami form a terrific pace trio. India have it in them to go all the way.
3. West Indies
The defending champions, West Indies always find a way to raise their game in the T20 World Cup. They are the only side to have lifted the crown more than once. The T20 format was created for a team like West Indies, which has full of dazzling hitters. In Andre Fletcher, Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons, they have genuine match-winners with the bat. Shimron Hetmyer will take a lot of confidence from his success in the IPL heading into the T20 World Cup. Veteran Chris Gayle and vice-captain Nicholas Pooran might not be in great form but they can be expected to lift themselves on the big stage, considering their experience. Bowling is one area, where they might be slightly weak.
4. New Zealand
Gone are the days when New Zealand were dark horses in every ICC event. Ever since Brendon McCullum led the Kiwis to the 2015 World Cup final, New Zealand have been a force to reckon with at major events. They made the 50-over World Cup final in 2019 as well. Although they did not win the crown, they technically didn’t lose it either, tying both the 50 overs clash as well as the Super Over. New Zealand are led by a wonderful captain in Kane Williamson, who is also one of the best batters across formats. In Martin Guptill, they have one of the most successful T20 batters ever. Impressive opener Devon Conway would like to make an impression on the big stage. In Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner, they have three fine T20 all-rounders. If you look at their bowling, they have game-changing pacers in Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson. The Kiwis are weak in the spin department though.