Short format, long wait for pandemic-affected T20 World Cup


ISLAMABAD (AP) — It has been an extended watch for the marquee occasion in worldwide cricket’s shortest, highest-tempo format.

The pandemic-affected Twenty20 World Cup will lastly kick off on Sunday with no clear minimize favorites for the title.

The match was pulled from the 2020 cricket calendar after Australia shut its worldwide borders for the COVID-19 pandemic. India was then alleged to stage the occasion earlier this yr, nevertheless it was delayed once more after surge within the COVID-19 instances there. Cricket authorities lastly determined it will be performed in United Arab Emirates and Oman, with India remaining as official host.

For India’s main gamers, the UAE has develop into like a second residence in cricket phrases they usually’re accustomed to the sluggish nature of pitches. The second half of the T20 Indian Premier League was performed at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, resuming final month after being suspended mid-year.

Based mostly on that have, Virat Kohli’s India squad has been loaded with 4 spin bowlers — Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, Ravindra Jadeja and Rahul Chahal — aiming to clamp down any power-hitters within the opposition ranks.

Nevertheless it’s not solely India which is able to profit from the IPL being relocated to the gulf instantly earlier than the T20 World Cup. Key gamers from world wide, together with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, Australian allrounder Glenn Maxwell and England veteran Eoin Morgan, have all had a style of the situations.

Then there’s Pakistan, which has used the UAE as a home-away-from-home for years.

That makes the opening Group 2 encounter between archrivals India and Pakistan all of the extra intriguing on the Dubai Cricket Stadium on Oct. 24. India has by no means misplaced a World Cup recreation to Pakistan in both the one-day or T20 codecs. However Pakistan is unbeaten in six T20s on the stadium courting again to 2016.

“We all know the situations rather well,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam informed a pre-tournament information convention. “We all know how the wicket will behave and the changes batters should make.

“On the day whoever performs the higher cricket, wins the match. Should you ask me, we’ll win.”

Pakistan went near beating India within the inaugural T20 World Cup remaining in South Africa in 2007, however ultimately Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s lineup went on to win the sport when Misbah-ul-Haq’s was caught at quick fantastic leg off an extravagant paddle shot.

“As a crew, our confidence and morale are actually excessive,” Azam mentioned. “We’re not considering of the previous however the future. We’re making ready for that.”

The T20 format tends to favor big-hitting batters and unorthodox stroke-makers, however the power-hitters may very well be overshadowed on this occasion by the bowlers due to the sluggish nature of wickets. Solely the Mumbai Indians may cross the 200-run mark within the second half of the IPL’s round-robin stage, and totals of 170-180 have been thought-about aggressive.

Traits will emerge nicely earlier than the main title contenders get into motion. The highest eight groups have straight certified for the Tremendous 12 stage, which begins from Oct. 23. 4 groups will be a part of them by qualifying in Spherical 1, which kicks off Sunday with Oman taking up Papua New Guinea. Scotland and Bangladesh will proceed the Group B motion on Monday. Group A contains 2009 finalist Sri Lanka, Eire, Netherlands and Namibia. The 2 high groups from every group will advance.

Within the second stage, the defending champion West Indies and 50-over World Cup champion England are in Group 1 with Australia and South Africa. England, regardless of being with out Ben Stokes, is aiming to avenge its heart-breaking loss within the 2016 remaining when Carlos Brathwaite’s gorgeous flurry of sixes noticed the West Indies profitable its second title.

Liam Livingstone had a below-par stint within the IPL, however England may will nonetheless be banking on him to problem any bowling assault.

Brathwaite will not be there this time round, however Chris Gayle, the self-described “Universe Boss,” and Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell are all nonetheless within the squad. So too is recalled 37-year-old quick bowler Ravi Rampaul, who was concerned within the West Indies’ title win in 2012 however hasn’t performed at worldwide stage in virtually six years.

Neither South Africa nor Australia has gained the World T20 title, however every squad options sturdy tempo threats in Kagiso Rabada, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

Becoming a member of India and Pakistan in Group 2 will probably be New Zealand and Afghanistan.

New Zealand, which gained the World Check Championship remaining towards India earlier this yr and took the 50-over World Cup remaining to an unprecedented Tremendous Over after the sport led to a tie, is all the time a robust contender in an ICC occasion. Williamson is anticipated to recuperate from a hamstring niggle, and the Kiwis even have loads of expertise to attract on from Martin Guptill and Trent Boult.

Afghanistan has developed as one of many strongest rising groups within the format, however the Taliban taking again management in Kabul has affected the nationwide cricket crew.

Additionally, high-profile spinner Rashid Khan stepped down as captain, leaving Mohammad Nabi — the top-ranked all-rounder in T20 cricket — to steer the squad.

Khan had a below-par IPL season for last-place Sunrisers Hyderabad, however his legspin is anticipated to trigger bother for any crew within the group.

Afghanistan opens towards one of many Spherical 1 qualifiers in Sharjah on Oct. 25 earlier than taking up Pakistan on Oct. 30.

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Extra AP sports activities: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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