2012 ICC T20 WORLD CUP: Preview of the teams and the stars

2012 ICC T20 WORLD CUP: Preview of the teams and the stars

(Access all the video highlights of the 2012 T20 World Cup, compare to past T20 World Cups)

Colombo, 3 Sept 2012

Belt up cricket fans – the most exciting cricket tournament in the most exciting format is ready to launch in Sri Lanka on 18th September when the hosts, Sri Lanka, take on Zimbabwe in the opening game of the ICC T20 World Cup in the sleepy fishing hamlet of Hambantota on one of the largest cricket playing surfaces in the world.

ESPN, the official broadcasters are using 27 cameras for each of the 27 matches during the World Twenty20 to bring all the action live to a global fan base.

Asia teams have slight edge

Wasim Akram has picked Pakistan to win the title. India and Sri Lanka will be hard to beat in the steamy and hot conditions that prevail in Sri Lanka. Expect an all-Asian final on October 7 in Colombo.

India has a well balanced team; their batting is led by an in form Virat Kohli and offers quality from Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order to Suresh Raina in the middle order. Yuvraj Singh makes a welcome return after his scare with cancer but may be a tad rusty to reproduce his heroics from the 2011 World Cup. India is led by MS Dhoni looking to add to their success in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

Sri Lanka have a well balanced squad, with Mahela Jayawardena and T M Dilshan offering runs at the top, followed by Sangakkara and Chandimal in the middle. Allrounders Angelo Mathews and Thissara Perera provide raw hitting power in the death overs. Malinga is a proven game changer with his mixture of yorkers and slower balls.

New skipper Mohammad Hafeez has got a lot of exciting young talent to play with in Asad Shafiq, in form Nasir Jamshad and Umar Ukmal. Then there are the old stalwarts of Afridi and Razzaq to provide the experience. Pakistan reached the final of the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 to lose to India but won the next edition held in England in 2009 when they beat Sri Lanka at Lords. As always, Pakistan has the talent but can they hold it together in the pressure cooker environment of the knockout matches?

Australia are known to adapt to sub-continental conditions better than most teams, but their T20 form has been very patchy. They also do not possess a quality spinner and this may count against them as their pacemen are belted around on flat pitches.

England is untested in these conditions. The loss of form of their trump card, Graeme Swann, is also worrying. After dropping Kevin Pieterson, they also do not have a power hitter in the middle order who can turn a game in a few overs.

South Africa has shown terrific batting form in recent months in England, but have always been suspect on low slow bouncing tracks. Can they throw off the chokers tag finally by cementing their No 1 Ranking in several formats of the game with a first ever World Cup title?

A bolter? Both Sourav Ganguly and Sanjay Manjrekar have picked the West Indies to take the title. The Windies are at full strength with the likes of Gayle, Bravo, Pollard and Narine building a nucleus built on their depth of experience playing in the IPL.

Spinners to hold sway

A rich array of spinners will dominate this edition of the T20 World Cup. We expect to see Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine and Ravi Ashwin battle it out to be the best spinner on show. Ajmal has been in outstanding form against Australia recently. Narine was hard to pick in the 2012 IPL but lost some of his shine during the England tour this summer as batsman worked out a method to play him off the pitch. Ashwin has been at his wicket taking best in the NZ test series and will be in a more confident mindset in the T20 World Cup.

Graeme Swann, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Daniel Vettori and Shakib Al Hassan are also poised to play a major role in their teams success.

Key players to watch

Batsmen: Chris Gayle, Hashim Amla, Kumar Sangakkara, Virat Kohli, Michael Hussey, David Warner, Eoin Morgan, Brendon McCullum, Mohammad Hafeez

Allrounders: Jacques Kallis, Angelo Mathews, Dwayne Bravo, Keiron Pollard, Shane Watson, Shakib Al Hassan

Bowlers: Dale Steyn, Saeed Ajmal, Sunil Narine, Ravi Ashwin, Graeme Swann, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis

The Tournament Format

The 2012 T20 World Cup format is the same as used in the previous 2010 T20 world cup. There are four groups of three in a preliminary round. Apart from the ten test cricket playing nations, there will be a further two associate teams (Afghanistan and Ireland)

The top two teams from each group will proceed to the Super Eight stage of the tournament which has two groups. The top two teams from the two Super Eight groups would play the semi-finals, and the semi-final winners would contest the final to determine the world champions on 7th October 2012.

(access all the video highlights of the 2012 T20 World Cup, compare to past T20 World Cups)

By Chief Correspondent, CricketCrowd

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