The vagaries of picking a winner in T20

The vagaries of picking a winner in T20

Oman have justified their qualification with a thrilling upset win over Ireland



By Sunil K Vaidya (Sports Editor)

Published: Fri 11 Mar 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Mar 2016, 9:51 PM

Such are the vagaries of Twenty20 format that it would be well nigh impossible to pick a winner for the ongoing World T20 cricket tournament that started with the qualifiers last week. The 'big brothers' will not be in action until Tuesday but underdogs Oman have set the tone for what could be an event full of upsets.
Oman are taking baby steps on the international stage of cricket, although the game is played in organised fashion in the Sultanate for over three decades. They, however, justified their qualification with a thrilling upset win over Ireland, the team known for causing big upsets themselves on world stage.
The most exciting moment of Oman's victory probably was when Zeeshan Maqsood flew like a bird to pluck a catch in mid-air and that spectacular catch set the tone for the match and perhaps for this edition of World T20. The beauty of this shortest format of the game is that every team stands a chance of winning. It is a moment like Zeeshan's catch or an over that can change the course of a match. Shorter the game, tougher the chances of recovery. Therefore, every team will have to be on their guard and always put their best foot forward.
The Indian juggernaut is rolling since the start of the year with the Men in Blue winning 10 out of 11 T20Is. The hosts are obviously firm favourites to win the tournament but then it can be said about any other team.
Australia are five times ODI World Cup champions and dominant force in the longest version (Tests) for a long time but the World T20 title has eluded them in the last five championships. The men in baggy green are placed sixth in the ICC T20I ranking but Steve Smith's team stands as good a chance, as the other top five teams, to win the trophy.
The South Africans have in their ranks one of the most destructive batsmen - AB de Villiers - in shorter format but they like the Australians are yet to win the World T20.
And, don't be surprised if one of the bottom two teams - Sri Lanka and Pakistan - among the top eight go home with the silverware. It is no coincidence that five countries have won the World T20 titles in the first five editions.
The field is open and at least six teams start as strong contenders to win the on-field battle and lay their hands on the trophy on April 3.
There was another off-the-field battle that politicians indulged in even before the teams got on to the 'real world stage'. The result, Pakistan were reluctant to come to India on security issues, particularly for their match against India at Dharamsala. At the last minute the problem seems to have been resolved but I wonder why no thought was given before allotting the match to the small hilly town in Himachal Pradesh.
International Cricket Council (ICC) should seriously avoid scheduling any India-Pakistan matches in their respective countries. Ideally, the India-Pakistan World T20 clash could have been scheduled in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or still better at the Ring of Fire in Dubai.
sunilvaidya@khaleejtimes.com 


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