How will the IPL fallout affect the T20 World Cup?

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Just two days after the IPL final, Papua New Guinea met co-hosts Oman in the opener for the delayed T20 World Cup. With such a short rest period, would those at the IPL be at a disadvantage, or will the extra time in the UAE mean that those players are sharper and better understand the conditions?

For England, 8 of their squad were at the IPL, with Moeen Ali being the only one to perform well. Eoin Morgan had a shocker, averaging just 6.83. The rest were limited to sporadic appearances, and, with the absence of Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, they are missing some of their key players.

Despite Dawid Malan being the No.1 T20 batsman in the world right now, I am yet to be convinced by him as his strike rate is just too low (just 114 in 2021).

Class is permanent, and this England side is littered with class.

They will need a player or two to step up if they want to challenge for the trophy, but class is permanent, and this England side is littered with class.

This will be the last time Virat Kohli captains India in T20s. Unsurprisingly, their squad has had plenty of game time in the IPL, but could they regret not bringing some of the emerging stars who featured there?

Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel were the top two wicket takers but have been ignored in favour of the more experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami.

Orange cap winner Raturaj Gaikwad misses out, yet Suryakumar Yadav keeps his place despite being out of form for months. Their squad is full of world class players though, from death overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah to quality finishers Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant, to one of the most rounded players in the world: Ravindra Jadeja. They certainly have the squad and depth to challenge, but can they make the most of it?

As has been the way for years, no player from Pakistan participated in IPL 2021, so it will be interesting to see how they cope, given that none of the players were recently in the UAE. However, they have played plenty of matches here in the past, being their home venue temporarily after the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lanka team.

Pakistan have a knack for performing on the big stage, namely during the 1992 World Cup, and beating India to the Champions Trophy in 2017. Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi both represent serious talent, so Pakistan are certainly contenders this year.

While Pakistan seems to shine on the big stage, the opposite is true for South Africa. Apart from winning the inaugural Champions Trophy, they have not reached a major tournament final.

Faf du Plessis showed once again how good he is in the IPL final, Anrich Nortje was one of the most economical bowlers in the IPL and Kagiso Rabada could turn up for the big occasion, despite not being at his best recently.

Spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi will cause opponents no end of problems on the slow UAE pitches, but I would be surprised to see South Africa get out of their ground.

New Zealand are regarded as the best Test and ODI team around at the moment but have struggled comparatively in the shorter format. No Kiwi really set the IPL alight, but their pace bowling attack is one of the most fearsome in the tournament.

However, I worry about their batting depth. Apart from Williamson, Conway and Guptill, none of their batsmen seem good enough to win this tournament for them. They are in the slightly easier group though, so if they can scrape through to the semi-finals, who knows what could happen?

Pakistan have a knack of performing on the big stage.

There were many ups and downs for the players from Australia in IPL 2021. Warner was promptly dropped after a lack of runs, Stoinis showed flashes of potential before his injury, Hazlewood was quiet, yet produced a stunning performance in the final and last but most certainly not least, Glenn Maxwell starred for RCB showing off some audacious shots to remind us that class is permanent.

There is no getting around the fact that this is one of the weakest Australian teams we have seen for a while and, just like New Zealand, they will be heavily reliant on their pace attack to carry them.

Now we come to holders West Indies. They have so much firepower, some of which was on display in the IPL, such as from Shimron Hetmyer and Dwayne Bravo. Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell are two of the best finishers in the world and on paper their squad is one of the most fearsome.

But can the players gel and find the consistency to turn up match after match? Even if they do not challenge for the title, they will surely have a say on who wins it as they can take points off anyone on their day. They were largely unfancied last time, so, like Pakistan, they could spring a surprise once more.

Unfortunately, Afghanistan have fallen away since breaking into the top eight of the world and this will not be helped by their country’s current political situation. Yet they do have world class players such as Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman, with Rashid showing his class in the IPL for the struggling Sunrisers Hyderabad. Surely qualification for the semi-finals is a step too far.

Those are the eight teams who have automatically qualified for the Super 12 stage of the World Cup, where the top two from each group advance to the semi-finals. It is worth mentioning that Bangladesh, whilst not qualifying automatically, did recently manage to comfortably beat New Zealand in a recent T20 series.

Their team has flashes of quality so they are definitely one to keep an eye on.

The delay to this tournament has meant that the build-up has been more exciting and, with many teams feeling like they have got a good chance of winning it, it should produce a memorable tournament.

Image: Indi.ca via Creative Commons

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