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Top four teams to watch out for in 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup

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Shillong, May 20: Once IPL 2024 is over on May 26, the attention of all cricket fans will move quickly to the ninth edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, set to happen in the USA and the West Indies from June 1-29.

For a change, the upcoming edition of the Men’s T20 World Cup will be a 20-team event, up from the 16 teams competing in the 2022 edition of the tournament in Australia. It’s also the first time USA, Canada and Uganda are participating in a Men’s T20 World Cup. IANS looks at the top four teams to watch out for in the upcoming edition of the showpiece event:

1. India

The Rohit Sharma-led side begin their quest to add another T20 World Cup silverware after the 2007 triumph when they open their campaign against Ireland on June 5 in New York, and then face-off against Pakistan, USA and Canada on June 9, 12 and 15 respectively.

Strength: India enter the tournament as the top-ranked men’s T20I side, with oodles of experience mixed with exuberance of youth in all facets of the game. On unknown conditions in the USA and slow pitches of West Indies, having in-form players like Virat Kohli, Sanju Samson, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav will prove to be the key for India to excel in the competition.

Weakness: Concern over the recent form of captain Rohit Sharma and his deputy Hardik Pandya, as both had a torrid time with Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024. The finishers are also a point of concern as Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja haven’t been at their lethal best in this aspect in IPL 2024.

Opportunity: It’s a chance for someone like left-handed batting all-rounder Shivam Dube to showcase his good hitting skills against spin and pace at the international level, after excelling for CSK in this department since IPL 2022, and play an integral role in India ending their long-standing trophy drought.

Threat: Since the 2013 Champions Trophy triumph in England, India have frozen at winning in the knockouts. The cobwebs of not getting over the line when it matters the most in past instances could come back to haunt India, which needs to be countered this time around.

2. England

The defending champions in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup will open their title defence against Scotland in Barbados on June 4. They are drawn in Group B of the competition alongside Australia, Namibia, Scotland and Oman.

Strength: The presence of Jos Buttler, Will Jacks, Phil Salt and Jonny Bairstow, along with Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Sam Curran provides a lot of batting firepower to the team. Having Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer, along with Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid is a major boost for England too.

Weakness: Though Archer has been included in the World Cup squad, his fitness is a major concern. He has suffered injury setbacks like stress fractures, long-standing elbow issues, which kept him out of international action since May 2023. If Archer suffers another injury setback during the World Cup, it will unsettle England’s plans.

Opportunity: It’s a chance for someone like Chris Jordan to help England retain their title in his home environment. Of late, Jordan’s lower-order hitting skills, along with a good death overs bowling option and energetic fielding make him a valuable asset in the Caribbean. With Kieron Pollard as a local coaching consultant for the World Cup, England have a lot of local intel to cash in the tournament.

Threat: Since they won the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, England had a horrid time in defence of their ODI World Cup crown in India last year, where they didn’t enter the knockouts. A similar threat looms when they enter the T20 World Cup title defence in the Caribbean.

3. Australia

Australia, the current holders of the ODI World Cup trophy and ICC World Test Championship mace, will open their 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup campaign against Group B opponents Oman in Barbados on June 5, facing England, Namibia and Scotland in the Caribbean.

Strength: Australia have a well-balanced squad in several experienced campaigners who have been part of previous silverware triumphs like captain Mitchell Marsh, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Adam Zampa.

Weakness: Recent form of Warner and Maxwell hasn’t been great in IPL 2024, which means Australia could be little short on firepower. Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar hasn’t played a T20I since the last Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022.

Opportunity: A chance for Australia to become the first men’s side to hold all silverwares which are present in senior international cricket. If they manage to steer past everything through their bevy of all-rounders like Maxwell, Marsh, Agar, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron Green, it would stamp Australia’s authority of being the best side in the world.

Threat: When they went into their T20 World Cup title defence at home in 2022, Australia had the same core which won them the trophy in 2021. But a huge loss to New Zealand meant they spent forever playing catch-up in terms of net run rate and lacked ruthlessness. Australia need to be careful of this if they are to get the trophy.

4. West Indies

Two-time champions West Indies are placed in Group C of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup and face Papua New Guinea in their opening match in Guyana on June 2, before playing against Uganda, New Zealand and Afghanistan in the rest of their group stage games.

Strength: Captain Rovman Powell, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell and Jason Holder have been in great form in the format, internationally as well as domestically. Plus, West Indies have been extensively preparing for the World Cup via ‘A’ team series against Nepal, a practice camp in Antigua and a three-game series at home against South Africa.

Weakness: West Indies have won the Men’s T20 World Cup twice in 2012 and 2016 respectively. But they have had an underwhelming run in the last two editions of the showpiece event. In 2021, Kieron Pollard-led West Indies failed to enter the knockouts after winning just one game in the group phase.

A year later, under Nicholas Pooran’s leadership in Australia, they couldn’t enter the Super ten stage. West Indies also missed out on qualifying for the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup in India after failing to be the top two teams in the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.

Opportunity: Being the co-hosts of the World Cup, West Indies are playing at their home venues for the upcoming tournament. They know the conditions best and more so, their recent form at home has been encouraging. They registered T20I series wins over South Africa, India, and England in the last 14 months at home, which gives them a good chance to win the title.

Threat: Daren Sammy, the current West Indies head coach, was the captain of their twin men’s T20 World Cup triumphs. So far, a hosting nation hasn’t won a T20 World Cup on their home soil, which means West Indies need to get past this threatening factor and their recent poor record in ICC events if they are to be the first team to win the showpiece event at home. (IANS)

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