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The Pecking Order

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T20 as a format is an open one, one where 'anything can happen'. You can't say 'who's going to finish where'. But that's never stopped anyone from making predictions and picking winners, finalists and semi-finalists. Certain patterns emerge, and using Squadstats, general trends and to some extent, the team's displays in the warm up matches, it may be possible to give an educated evaluation of who stands where, and who stands to go where. So, here it is.

Wildcard finalists: West Indies

It is a bit of a stretch, expecting them to win the tournament, or do too well. But it is not like they don't have the resources. Stanford has left a mixed influence in the Caribbean, but under his influence a breed of young, unknown but potent T20 specialists have come to the fore. The opener Fletcher has serious credentials at the domestic level, Sarwan looks to be in fair touch, Edwards has had a good IPL, in addition to the usual suspects Gayle and Bravo. The problem is that they seldom seem too interested in doing much about their ability. If they chuck aside the aura of disinterest and move in the well-oiled machine manner of their Standford SuperStars days, there could be a few surprises on the way.

They are stuck in the group of death though, with Australia and Sri Lanka.  

Favourites on thin ice: South Africa, India

Both top everyone's list of favourites to take the trophy but there are a few loose ends to tie up, more on the Indian side than the African. The Indian bowling is more competent and less 'great' or 'lethal'. It hasn't looked world champion-like in the warm up matches, and even otherwise, is something that can be hit. The middle and lower middle-order is untested, and in their last four T20 matches against international sides, they have only won one. South Africa has always been a bowling side rather than a batting one, and that holds true at this point as well. On recent form they have the best bowling attacks of the tournament with Steyn, Abdullah, Van Der Merwe, the Morkels and Peterson. But the lack of batsmen who can turn matches on their own, and the recent indifferent form of most of their frontliners gives rivals an opening to focus on.

The unheralded favourites:  Australia

Australia, as always, have a good cricketing side. The lack of hype around them is on account of the fact that unlike always, they don't have a great, all-conquering unit. Having said that, they are, arguably, the most bull-headed of the lot about winning the one major trophy they haven't won yet. That, combined with a good team, puts them above their two biggest rivals - the Indians, who have a better side but not the zing they had last time, and the South Africans, who have only recently just started winning against Australia.

Neither here, nor theres : England, Pakistan, New Zealand

England have the good side, a well balanced one, but without the x-factor. Like New Zealand, they miss the 'match-turners', lone-rangers who swing a game on their own steam (India have about 6 of them, for instance). Set similarly up as England, New Zealand have no extraordinary performers, but with more unknown quantity, you never know when the next matchwinner might emerge. Pakistan also have talent and a very good team, but seem a little too wayward, and too young.

Lukewarm at the Bottom : Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka have the misfortune of not only getting stuck with a very ordinary team but also getting wedged in the Group of Death. None of their frontliners are in remarkable form (and many of them have never been, in this format) and of the many who played in the IPL, only Dilshan and Malinga have brought back anything of note. The world realized through the Chennai Super Kings that you can't win matches with Murali alone.

If the West Indians beat Australia tom, Lanka will be staring deep down the wrong side of the gun. Watch out for Indika De Saram though, a man with huge potential and success at the domestic level of their game, and likely to be a surprise star if picked to play.

About the Minnows

Is it fair to still include Bangladesh as minnows? They are in a position to repeat the ambush attack they laid out for India in the ODI World Cup two years ago. But they have proved to be a loose cannon team. Firing wildly, with no clear plan or discipline. Well, the T20 format offers them their best chance of success with this method. Of the rest, Ireland look the strongest to pull off an upset, having not lost a single internation T20 match, and shown some steel in winning the Super Over contest against Netherland despite having just 6 runs to defend.


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